Jeramey Jannene

More Thoughts On the KRM and Streetcar System

By - Oct 25th, 2007 07:20 pm
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Originally uploaded by nsuydam1

Small Business Times executive editor Steve Jagler has a special to OnMilwaukee.com entitled “Don’t Let Skeptics Derail Mass Transit Options“, and it’s nothing short of excellent. Jagler takes typical conservative mindsets to task for their inability to understand the benefits of regional mass transit systems.

Jagler states everything really well. His article is definitely worth your time.

I have a few things to add, mostly as a result of the comments. The comments to the article are so-far off-base and demonstrate a lack of understanding by members of the community of the issue at hand. People clearly don’t understand those who can’t afford a car (students, children, those who need to get work, but lack the means), those who are unable to drive (the elderly), those who don’t want to waste their time driving everywhere (I’ll call them “the enlightened”) and the fact that there is federal funding out there for the system.

The disgusting, growing notion of many Wisconsinites is that they can’t be taxed for new things, even if it improves their quality of life. These same Wisconsinites also go as far as to refuse to have existing taxes raised, while at the same time complaining for increased quality (and size) for things like roads and police protection. It’s this mentality ultimately that derails infrastructure improvements like the KRM system.

People complain that the business community hasn’t jumped on board with funding it. I bet you they would if we could get far enough in the discussion to ask them. Selling naming routes to certain runs (The Briggs & Straton Early Morning Express) or selling advertising within cars (or painted cars, like they do with buses) would certainly bring in money from companies to help support the system.

The one thing he doesn’t say that I wish he would have is that there isn’t a single city or region that built a system like this and is now actively trying to shut it down. Sure, for some of these systems the up-front costs may have been wrong, but the results of well-aligned stations and tracks have been great.

Also, if you’re interested in seeing what Milwaukee could become look no further than the $6 billion investment Denver is making to expand their system through FasTracks. Think if you didn’t have to worry about ice in the winter or your blood-alcohol content on Saturday night. You could read the newspaper, play with your iPhone, or work on your laptop on the way to work. Sleep on the way home. And when you get off the train you can enjoy the nice, clean air knowing that you’re one less car on the road.

When all is said and done you can’t talk about real economic development (the kind that comes with low unemployment) without the development of a transit system. I wish both parties could agree to this.

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