Jeramey Jannene

New Milwaukee Transit Plan Unveiled

By - Jan 22nd, 2010 08:45 am
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Eight drafts, and a couple months later, the new regional transit authority plan for southeastern Wisconsin has been unveiled. Governor Jim Doyle introduced the new bill at a press conference at Bucyrus in South Milwaukee with Bucyrus President and CEO Tim Sullivan, Roundy’s CEO  and Chairman Bob Mariano, Northwestern Mutual CEO Ed Zore, AT&T Wisconsin President Scott VanderSanden, S.C. Johnson & Son Chairman and CEO J. Fisk Johnson, Johnson Controls Chairman, President and CEO Steve Roell, Greater Milwaukee Committee President Julia Taylor, and  Racine Mayor John Dickert.

This press conference was the unveiling of a plan originally announced on September 8th, 2009 by Governor Doyle at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station. This plan is the result of working with legislators following Doyle’s line-item veto of one of the regional transit authorities proposed in the state budget. Doyle was not satisfied with the changes made to regional transit authority proposal in his executive budget, and opted to veto the plan and go the route of introducing separate legislation.

For the sake of hopefully getting a good plan in place, going the “veto and separate legislation” route was a wise move on Doyle’s part. We’ve endorsed the idea before of a regional transit authority funded by a sales tax, and still stand by it as the right thing to do today.  The new plan is not nearly as aggressive as the old one, allowing Racine and Kenosha Counties to phase in over time. It does, however, provide desperately needed funding for Milwaukee County, contain language for an elimination of transit funding from the property tax (creating a tax trade-off instead of a new tax), and allow for development of the KRM Commuter Rail line to go forward which will better connect Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha, as well as Wisconsin and Illinois.

Despite what County Executive Scott Walker tells you, we think this is a good plan to get southeastern Wisconsin transit out of the death spiral it’s in. It’s also worth pointing out the irony of the knee-jerk reaction of some Republicans to dismiss this plan as a new tax, while the businesses and people they claim to represent are on-stage asking for it.

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6 thoughts on “New Milwaukee Transit Plan Unveiled”

  1. Jeff Jordan says:

    This is the best plan this Governor and Legislature could come up with and in my opinion, will work for Milwaukee. Milwaukee’s success will bring the others on board.
    You can bet that Walker will show up at the ribbon cutting for the new KRM and take credit somehow.
    The problem with this Regional Transit Lite is that even this is not a done deal. We have to let our reps know we want it and support their vote for the plan.

  2. Timothy says:

    I think this is a great idea. We need an RTA.. when I go to Chicago which is only 80 miles south they have it figured out.. yes they have some money issues but see the thing about them is Chicago/Cook count cares about everyone.

    What I mean about that is Milwaukee County only seems to care about Milwaukee County. When they presented ideas about the light rail that would run 27th street to bayshore mall.. it dosnt invlude any other county. What about all of the people who live in Ozaukee County and Waukesha County? Yes the Waukesha people want nothing to do with Milwaukee (which is a huge mistake and it WILL hurt them sooner or later) but what about the people who live in Ozaukee county yes there isnt a whole lot of growth right now (although places like Mequon-Cedarburg-Grafton could be doing ALOT better if the RTA would start including them in on things)

    I guess thats my big issue is that Milwaukee County needs to stop being Milwaukee county and be more of an RTA.. the main purpose of an RTA is to care about the REGION… but I guess this is one step closer to that.

    Thats all 🙂

  3. Regional Transit is a good idea in principle, but Milwaukee County has an existing bus system that needs an alternate funding source (to the property tax) IMMEDIATELY. Without stablizing the existing bus system, the Federal Transit Administration will not provide any funding for the light rail system. A lot of work went into securing voter support of a referendum in November 2008, and Doyle was asleep at the wheel to just blow that off by vetoing state approval. He’s sort of made amends coming around now, but whether he can get this new legislation through both houses is a big if.

  4. John says:

    Does anybody know how long it would take to actually implement rail transit in Milwaukee county? It seems like the streecar system and KRM will never get built.

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @John I think the streetcar has a pretty good shot of actually getting built by 2014, as it has funding for construction at least. The KRM well that completely is dependent on the RTA getting passed so.. who knows.

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