SERTA: Transit News & Notes

Weekly SERTA Advocate Alert

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on April 2, 2010

We have good news! This week the Assembly Transportation Committee took unprecedented steps in regional cooperation by passing transit legislation through committee. Thank you to everyone that made calls and wrote letters. While this victory should be celebrated, there is much work that needs to be done in the month ahead.

The next stop for the transit legislation is the Joint Finance Committee. The committee is scheduled to vote on the legislation next week, if we want to see this legislation get passed this session it must get through Joint Finance and onto the full Assembly for a vote.

Our call to action this week is to call local Joint Finance Committee members and thank them for their support and ask them to champion this bill through Joint Finance and on to a full Assembly vote:

Senator Lena Taylor
(608) 266-5810

Senator John Lehman
(608) 266-1832

Representative Pedro Colon

(608) 267-7669

Representative Cory Mason
(608) 266-0634

Representative Tamara Grigsby
(608) 266-0645



Kenosha News: Assembly committee passes updated regional transit bill

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on April 2, 2010

Rep. John Steinbrink, D-Pleasant Prairie, chairman of the Transportation Committee, said the legislation gives citizens and local governments control over creating regional authorities.

“The bill our committee passed protects taxpayer control by requiring a binding referendum and limiting revenue options, givers businesses and transit supporters the opportunity to make their case to citizens and, most importantly, puts the authority to make local decisions in the hands of people in communities in our area and around the state.”

The bill has a short time to pass the Legislature, as lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year later this month.

To read the entire article please visit the Kenosha News

From our friends at Transit NOW

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on April 1, 2010

Success! RTA bill Passes Committee 8-1
“It’s Time to Get On Board or Get Out of the Way!”
Thanks for all of your efforts to keep the RTA moving ahead!
The Assembly Committee on Transportation passed a new, stronger RTA bill (AB-282) out of committee today with 7 democrats and one republican voting in favor (Thank you Rep. Ott from the Fox Valley!) and one republican in opposition. It was great to see a bi-partisan vote that reflects the breadth and depth of support for the RTA across business, labor, minority, faith-based, environmental, and community groups.

This is a another big step forward for SE WI’s businesses and families.
This bill is all about jobs and economic growth. Today’s vote shows that there is statewide consensus for giving WI communities the tools they need to save transit systems, and create good regional transit networks that are needed to get our economy moving and get people working.

Please take a moment to reach out and thank:
Assembly Committee Chair Steinbrink and these dedicated and visionary Representatives who have worked tirelessly to keep this critically important legislation moving ahead: Representatives Barca, Sinicki, Grigsby, Mason, Turner, and Fields.

John Steinbrink,, 608-266-0455
Peter Barca,, 888-534-0064
Tamara Grigsby,, 888-534-0018
Christine Sinicki,, 888-534-0020
Cory Mason,
Robert Turner,, 888-529-0061
Jason Fields,, 608-266-3756
Assembly Bill 282 is a statewide legislative council bill that was amended to include important provisions related to the creation of a Southeastern Regional Transit Authority, including strengthening of the property tax relief provision, as well as including the provisions for a Fox Cities RTA.

Representative Grigsby commented after the vote: “When it comes to RTA, the message is clear. It’s time to either get onboard or get out of the way. Today’s action makes it clear that we’re absolutely serious about moving forward with revitalizing transit and creating jobs in Wisconsin.”

Next Steps
Next week we hope to see a hearing on AB-282 in the Joint Committee on Finance and shortly after, a vote on AB-282 by the full Assembly. We look forward to a collaborative effort in the Senate and for AB-282 to be brought to a vote soon.

Stay tuned…the next 3 weeks will be busy!

Thanks again to the many advocates who traveled to Madison on March 11,
attended press conferences, or sent in comments to build the awareness and support for this success.  

See press coverage and videos
State should approve RTA for mass transit, By Bruce Speight, WisPIRG

Transit is about economic growth and jobs – JOBS, not ideology, By Roger Caron, President, Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce and Jeff Van Koningsveld, President, IBEW Local 430, and co-chair of the Racine Transit Task Force

Please watch and share this powerful video on what Business Leaders and Others are Saying about Transit

See video from the Assembly Hearing on RTAs:

We are getting there!

Assembly Committee OKs Transit Legislation

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on April 1, 2010

From a recent Journal Sentinel article:

An up to 0.5 percent sales tax could be levied in Milwaukee County to fund public transportation, under a regional transit authority bill passed by an Assembly committee Thursday.

By a 7-1 vote, the Assembly Transportation Committee approved a bill that would allow the creation of interim transit authorities in Milwaukee and other counties in southeastern Wisconsin that could eventually merge into a Southeastern Regional Transit Authority. But the measure still faces a steep climb to pass the Legislature before it ends its regular business on April 22.

Six Democrats and one Republican on the committee approved a complex, 52-page amendment before passing the bill. The amended proposal would:

■ Allow interim regional transit authorities in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Ozaukee, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties. Those authorities could raise money for public transportation through a sales tax or membership fees charged to their local government members.

A sales tax would require a binding referendum in all counties except Milwaukee, which passed an advisory referendum in 2008. The revenue from the sales tax could only be used in the county that levies it, unless that county agreed to share the proceeds with the eventual Southeastern Regional Transit Authority.

• Allow for regional transit authorities to be created in other areas of the state including La Crosse and the Fox Valley

• Provide incentives for Racine and Kenosha counties to improve their transportation services through their possible transit authorities

• Leave out a requirement that Milwaukee County be paid for its transportation assets such as buses. That requirement had opened up the possibility of taxpayers paying for those resources twice

“State should approve RTA for mass transit”

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on April 1, 2010

Shortchanging public transportation is a classic case of being pennywise and pound foolish.  Now more than ever, public officials must make transit a top priority. Not only will it save consumers money, but it’s vital to economic growth and development in the region.

At a time when many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, giving more people in Milwaukee access to transit makes good sense for our communities and for our pocketbooks!

To read the entire piece by Bruce Speight and Kathryn Tholin visit the Milwaukee Biz Blog

From our Friends at C.A.T.

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on April 1, 2010

Progress for RTAs in SE WI…

On Thursday, April 1st, the Assembly Committee on Transportation is scheduled to vote on the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) bills that were considered at the March 11 public hearing.  They have combined them under one bill – AB 282.  The Committee goes into Executive session at 10 AM tomorrow morning so please contact your representative’s office as soon as possible!

Take 5 minutes and call your Assembly Representative and State Senator today!  Tell them AB 282 moves Wisconsin and its communities in the right direction – to create more transportation choices for the citizens and visitors to Wisconsin.  Also let them know you are counting on them to work with their colleagues and leadership to make sure the RTA bill passes. 

If your legislators are Representative Sinicki, Representative Fields, Representative Grigsby, Senator Sullivan, Representative Cullen, Representative Staskunas, Representative Stone, Senator Lehman or Representative Honadel, they especially need to hear from you! 

This is GREAT news – the legislative process continues to move forward, but our window is short.  This legislative session ends April 24th, leaving a few weeks to get a bill passed that will allow communities in Wisconsin to form RTAs and secure dedicated funding to support local bus systems.

Other ways you can help!

  • Join us at the next Coalition for Advancing Transit meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 8 at 5:30PM and learn how you can get involved over the next few weeks…it truly is “all in” this time around and we need EVERYONE to help us call supporters, canvass neighborhoods and get the word out. 
  • Visit for event details – this meeting is free and open to all C.A.T. members and supporters.
  • Contact Legislative Leaders – Tell them the RTA legislation is critical to the economic vitality of SE Wisconsin and the state.  Urge them to move the RTA to a vote – we need their leadership now:
  • Assembly Speaker Michael Sheridan:  (888) 947-0044 or
  • Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker:  (877)496-0472 or

We can’t afford the cost of inaction on this jobs bill: the loss of 1/3 of our transit service that will cut people off from 60,000 jobs and put more people out of work.  Without the RTA bill we will lose critical access to school, shopping, healthcare, and opportunity.

While other states across the country have implemented RTAs to invest in transit, Wisconsin has not.  RTAs will help create thousands of new jobs, attract businesses and investors, and spur economic growth – all of this is at stake.  Time is short. Their leadership is needed now. 

Also…save the date for a Listening Session that will be held on Monday, April 12 at 6:30PM in West Allis, for the districts of Representative Tony Staskunas and Representative Cullen.  Details to follow!

We will continue to keep you updated as things move along.  In the meantime, help us spread the word!  Forward this email to your friends, neighbors and colleagues – ask them to join us in making sure SE WI moves forward with a strong economic future.

“We are steadily decimating a bus system that has long ranked as one of the nation’s finest.”

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on March 31, 2010

The following is from this week’s Murphy’s Law – to read all of this week’s Murphy’s Law visit Milwaukee Magazine:

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the decline of the Milwaukee County Transit System, decrying the cutbacks in funding. This generated comments and e-mail from readers suggesting the buses were empty and that’s why County Executive Scott Walker was cutting back the service. That seems untrue in two ways. Walker has long argued that buses are the best form of public transit, and wanted all $91.5 million of the federal money promised to Milwaukee for transit to go to buses rather than rail. (The Democratic-controlled Congress gave him 40 percent of the money for buses and 60 percent to the city for a rail line.) Walker has always given the impression of cutting back the bus system reluctantly, as a way of keeping down the county budget.

As for empty buses, it’s worth noting a state study that found Milwaukee’s bus system rates high nationally in passengers per revenue hour and expenses per passenger. I also checked with the Milwaukee County Transit System about the ridership numbers for their routes. They sent me a list of their top 29 routes with ridership per bus hour: It ranged from a high of 51 passengers per hour for the No. 30 bus to a low of 18 for the No. 64 bus.

Buses are certainly empty on occasion, as the transit system’s Web site notes: “For example, Route 27 carries 11,503 passengers on one average weekday. It travels from 27th and Sycamore to Green Bay and Hampton for the majority of the trips. As the bus starts out on its run, it might only have a couple people on board, but as it travels along the route, it picks up additional people and lets others off, as a bus should do. But, by the end of the trip, all people will be off the bus.”

As I noted in my column two weeks ago, ridership on Milwaukee County buses declined by 25 percent from 2000 to 2009, dropping from 52.8 million to 39.4 million rides. Some are predicting an additional 30 percent cutback in the next budget if no funding alternatives are found. We are steadily decimating a bus system that has long ranked as one of the nation’s finest.

Shave your head for transit?

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on March 30, 2010

100 Calls To Support Southeastern Wisconsin RTA!

Launch Milwaukee Has Issued A Challenge To Raise 100 Phone Calls In Support Of Transit!
Steve Glynn from Spreenkler is backing it up. If you make the calls, he will shave his head for transit!


  • Because transit equals jobs for tens of thousands of residents in Southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Because people need transit to get to school, church. To buy groceries. To be part of their community.
  • Because the longer we wait the further Southeastern Wisconsin falls behind other states competing for talented people to work and start businesses.

Details on Steve’s haircut and FREE PIZZA at Transfer Pizzeria!

Your Chance to Voice Support for Transit

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on March 29, 2010

Senator Sullivan is holding a Town hall meeting TONIGHT, Monday, March 29 at 5:30 PM at the Wauwatosa Library in the Firefly Room.

For more information visit: Launch Milwaukee and Wauwatosa NOW

RAMAC Begins Radio Campaign Supporting KRM, Transit

Posted in Uncategorized by SERTA on March 29, 2010

Racine, Wisconsin — The Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC) will begin airing a radio advertisement in Racine on Monday to convey the organization’s support for economic development through the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail and a regional transit authority (RTA) in southeastern Wisconsin.

RAMAC president Roger Caron commentates the 30-second bit: “With over 40 years of Chamber of Commerce experience, I understand economic development and know the importance of creating jobs for people in our community. Now is the time to invest in our economy, by supporting public transit and KRM.” Caron concludes by requesting listeners call and thank continued KRM supporters, Wisconsin State Senator John Lehman and State Representative Cory Mason.

The Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC) was formed in 1982 from the consolidation of the Racine Area Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers’ and Employers’ Association. RAMAC is a voluntary, nonprofit association whose primary source of operating income is the dues paid by member firms. It is wholly independent and serves as a central source of information and data on a wide variety of business problems and issues affecting its members. RAMAC is the largest single voice representing the interest common to every small and large, industry, profession, service and retail business and community organization in the Racine area.