Jeramey Jannene

Open Letter to Mayor Barrett Concerning Transit

By - Nov 6th, 2008 03:26 pm
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Mayor Barrett,

On Monday, November 10th, your representative to the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), Sharon Robinson, will cast an important vote for the future of transit in our city and region. We write to you to encourage her to vote “yes” to any sales tax funding proposals. While we have recently outlined why we think RTA’s are an efficient way to deliver regional services, we have a few more things we think you should consider.

  • Milwaukee’s transit system (MCTS) is in a sad state. Route cuts, service reductions, and fare increases have been the outcome of ugly budget battles. While MCTS is managed by Milwaukee County, and is paid for by the state of Wisconsin and Milwaukee County, it would be foolish to think the city does not have a stake in the game. The transit system constitutes a large part of the image of Milwaukee and is heavily used by city residents. With the RTA managing regional transit, you will have gained some control of a system that is critical to the life of the city. Today you have zero votes on how the system is managed, tomorrow you can have 1.
  • The creation of a regional transit authority that actually manages transit will improve the image of the region by ultimately bringing all the systems under the same branding and management. This should make the transit experience both less confusing and more appealing for residents and visitors. This will also end the question of “who runs Milwaukee’s transit system?” A straw poll of ten people on the street would certainly reveal a significant number who believe the city is responsible for the buses.
  • This is a regional effort for a region that has been very fragmented to-date. It would be a big win for you to say you’re working for the city and the region.
  • This is the start to building the funding mechanism to unlock the $91.5 million in federal funding for a new starter system. This is a way to end the deadlock with Scott Walker.
  • The Milwaukee County 1% Sales Tax Advisory Referendum recently passed, a clear sign that residents are ready for change.
  • The business community is behind the RTA. They are ready for regional governance that can get their employees to and from work. Transit Now has a lengthy list of supporters.

Please join your counterparts from Racine and Kenosha in voting yes for a true regional solution on November 10th.


Jeramey Jannene & Dave Reid


8 thoughts on “Open Letter to Mayor Barrett Concerning Transit”

  1. capper says:

    Here, here. Well done. I offer the same sentiments.

  2. Steve says:

    Well said.

  3. Kevin says:

    I also agree. Well though-out and written.

  4. Michael says:

    This is something the city and area desperately need!

  5. RMW says:

    Sorry, but I must respectfully say you sheeple are goofy. Forming a Regional Transit Authority will improve the image of the region? Are you serious?! A RTA would ultimately take the voice away from the people, and put decisions solely into the grubby mits of representatives on the take. I say improve the existing bus system and routes which are flexible and can go to where the people live. An inflexible and cost-prohibitive anchor like rail determines where people should live. IOW, it takes away the freedom to live where you want.
    Statstics show that forced train transit in places like Portland, Denver and San Diego does not translate into users. These heavily-subsidized systems are a drain on the tax base and actually stifle development. While it may look and seem cool to have a rail transit system, the facts do not justify it at all. As for yet ANOTHER tax for something that would benefit very, very few people? Absolutely Not!! Let the businesses that are pushing for this pay for it!

  6. RMW says:

    RMW, you are 100% right, trains do limit where you can live by creating an inflexible system, they limit you in the same way that roads limit where you can live, and just like roads, they are a drain on the tax base. Let’s get rid of roads.

  7. Jesse says:

    The main reason rail is an economic driver and buses are not, is that rail isn’t at the whim of yearly budgets. However, we’ve seen lately how the flexibility of a bus route is used to close routes because we need to save $12/year on our taxes. I’ll take the significant investment and permanence any day.

    As for your ‘facts’, where are they?

  8. Aaron says:

    I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, however with the rough economic times we are experiencing, I believe a large number of voters saw this as a way to reduce their property taxes and not to help transit.
    I take the freeway bus to work and unfortunately since gas prices have come down, so has riders. I hate to say it, Milwaukeeans love their cars. Do not get me wrong, I would like to see transit improvements made to the area, however their better be a lot publicity on getting the public opinion on how best to use this 1/2 % sales tax on transit. If we do not get it right in the beginning, it will be impossible to find the funds to expand the system and then we will be left with a inefficient system, like our freeway system!

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