SERTA: Transit News & Notes

Let’s roll on the RTA Today

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on April 14, 2010

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By Peggy Schulz

Posted: April 13, 2010

State Reps. Tony Staskunas and David Cullen and Sen. Jim Sullivan were at the West Allis Library on April 12 to hear the views of their constituents and others on a bill that would give Milwaukee County the authority to establish a Regional Transit Authority. The RTA would be funded through a 0.5% sales tax.

If this RTA legislation does not pass out of the Assembly and Senate before the current legislative session ends April 22, the Milwaukee County Transit System faces at least a 30% cut in service for 2011.

At the listening session, there was lots of discussion, a bit of raised voices and the expected “no new taxes” demands. In other words, there was more than enough frustration to go around, from all sides of the debate.

But in my view, one woman at the library summed up the situation perfectly when she described MCTS as a lifeline.

My trip to and from the listening session might serve as a good illustration of just how important our bus system is to the entire community.

I rode to the meeting on two buses, south on Water and S. 1st streets and then west on Mitchell and Burnham streets, ending up on National Ave. On the way there, people were going to and from work, as well as students with school books in hand. It’s likely at least some of the people were going on to visit patients at West Allis Memorial Hospital or to other businesses in West Allis.

Earlier in the day, surely, there would have been hospital workers and people going to appointments at the clinics inside the hospital.

Coming back east, there were plenty of shoppers laden down with bags of groceries and other items from the various shops along National and even on Greenfield Ave. near 70th St.

In ways too numerous to list here, our bus system truly is a lifeline. Not just for those who choose to use it, or even for those who have no other choice due to age or disabilities, but for every single citizen in Milwaukee County – and beyond.

Transit supporters have been citing statistics until we’re blue in the face:

• Over the past decade, 40,000 jobs in Milwaukee County have become unreachable by public transportation.

• 140,000 or more rides are taken per day on MCTS, roughly half of which are workers going to jobs.

• A much less sanguine factoid: As fares have risen and routes have been cut, the usage of the system has gone down.

I’ve been unemployed since last June. It’s depressing to read one after another classified ad proclaiming the position advertised is “not on a busline.”

I’ve written for this publication several times over the years about the absolute necessity of Milwaukee County having an affordable, efficient, convenient bus system. My writings might have been seen as ravings, I suppose, in the opinion of the “let them buy cars,” Marie Antoinette-like people.

But now, I’m begging you: Contact your state senator and representative today. Let them know that unless they pass the RTA legislation, Milwaukee could lose one of its most important lifelines – the truly public transportation system that is the Milwaukee County Transit System.

Call (800) 362-9472 or visit www.legis.wisconsin.gov and click on “Who represents me?” to find out the names and contact information for your state senator and representative.

Please, don’t force me to move to Chicago! Make those calls today. Thank you.

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