Op Ed

Why the Streetcar Won’t Work

The planned route will duplicate bus routes and won’t solve any of the city’s needs.

By - Jan 14th, 2015 02:54 pm

Streetcars are the new fad in urban planning and it seems like every city in the United States is planning or already building one. While they’re a little late to the party, Mayor Tom Barrett and some civic and business leaders here are determined to make sure Milwaukee isn’t left out of the trend.

Unfortunately, though, just because something is popular doesn’t mean it is a good idea. That’s especially true for the Milwaukee streetcar project. There are a number of flaws with the plan that make me believe it should be sent back to the drawing board, even if that means Milwaukee forefits the $54.9 million in federal funding dedicated to the project

The Streetcar Won’t Increase Mobility or Job Access

One of the benefits of the streetcar touted by proponents is that it will increase job access and mobility for city residents. At best, this is a misunderstanding of how transit works, at worst it intentionally misleads the public in order to gain support for the project.

Portland native and transit planner Jarrett Walker has written extensively about this issue on his Human Transit blog. Streetcars running in mixed traffic have been shown to have little to no impact on mobility and job access when they parallel existing bus routes. While the proposed streetcar for Milwaukee would include improvements like better-designed stops, pre-boarding fare collection and all-door boarding that can lead to improvements in speed, these features are by no means exclusive to streetcars. There are bus systems all over the world that include these, just as there are train systems that do not. Milwaukee’s streetcar will run in mixed-traffic parallel to MCTS routes 15, 30, and 57. In the case of routes 57 and 15, the streetcar will run more slowly, and in the case of route 30, less frequently.

The Streetcar Won’t Boost Economic Development or the Tax Base

There is no conclusive data that streetcars promote or cause economic development and job creation. Most data on the subject comes from rapidly growing cities (unlike Milwaukee, which has a stable population) that also made general investments in better public infrastructure and other forms of transit at the same time they built streetcars, making it difficult to establish any kind of cause and effect relationship (for more about this see this article at The Atlantic’s CityLab). What the data does point to, however, is that streetcars tend to concentrate development that would have occurred anyway along specific corridors. If Milwaukee’s streetcar was planned to run through blighted, underdeveloped, or impoverished areas of the city (for example, a route to spread development from the east side to the west side of downtown) then that might be good enough. When the route is planned to go through some of the wealthiest and most rapidly developing areas of the city, though, it just amounts to an investment that further centralizes wealth in a city already grappling with appalling levels of segregation and inequality.

The Streetcar Isn’t Well Designed for Expansion

Milwaukee already has a very well-patronized bus system that excels at providing short, local trips. Partly as a result, we have the third-highest transit ridership per capita of any major city in the Midwest. What Milwaukee’s system doesn’t do well, however, is provide fast trips across the city and county. As a result, bus trips from Downtown and suburban jobs to most neighborhoods in the city are often prohibitively long, making it harder for transit-dependent Milwaukeeans to access jobs and educational opportunities. Any major transit investment should take this into account. A downtown streetcar can easily act as a starter route for a larger city-wide system that could help rectify this problem but to do that it needs to be routed places where there is high demand for transit (like Wisconsin Avenue, not St. Paul Ave in the Third Ward), stop less frequently than every block, and run in its own lanes out of traffic. These are all things that are compatible with streetcar technology. However, because it’s not designed to serve these needs, the initial segment of the streetcar is predicted to have low ridership. This could actually end up frustrating efforts to build future extensions by making it look like rail won’t work in Milwaukee.

The Streetcar Won’t Attract Millennials

Another argument that has been made for the streetcar is it will attract and retain young professionals in Milwaukee. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Data has show that millenials primarily move for educational and employment opportunities (something which is lacking in many fields in Milwaukee). Income and racial inequality has repeatedly been pointed out as an impediment to growing Milwaukee’s economy. If Milwaukee wants to grow its economy and attract more millenials (and everyone else), we’ll need to focus on solving this inequality, not building expensive projects that will further concentrate wealth and use up city resources that could have been spent elsewhere.

The Streetcar Won’t Meet the Needs of Minorities or the Transit-Dependent

The most important reason why the Milwaukee Streetcar project needs to be sent back to the drawing board is that it does nothing to meet the needs of minorities or the transit dependent. The initial route for the streetcar, coupled with the fact that the city couldn’t find the resources to initially extend the streetcar up N. 4th Street towards N. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. and Hillside Terrace but magically came up with $25 million to extend the line to the proposed Couture luxury condo tower, shows a troubling lack of concern on the part of Mayor Barrett and city leaders for racial and economic justice. In a city where African-Americans and Hispanics outnumber whites almost 2 to 1, it is deeply problematic for a major transit investment like a streetcar to only serve overwhelmingly white neighborhoods. This doesn’t mean we don’t need or shouldn’t build better transit on the East Side or Downtown, but there needs to be a focus on initial routes that serve a representative swath of the city and address the huge social and economic issues this city faces.

Milwaukee Streetcar Maps and Renderings

Milwaukee Streetcar Coverage

More about the Milwaukee Streetcar

For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.

Read more about Milwaukee Streetcar here

Categories: Op-Ed

79 thoughts on “Op Ed: Why the Streetcar Won’t Work”

  1. Casey says:

    I agree with some of these points so before the roads get torn up lets design a better route that in the long run will be successful.
    Here’s an idea…connect the denses neighborhood in the state (near southside) to the denses job center in the state (downtown)

    16th & Forest Home to Mitchel to 1st/Water to Wisconsin to Couture.
    The route I’m thinking of off hand sure isn’t perfect but I beleive it beats the current proposal.

  2. Patrick says:

    This has been the most intelligent piece I’ve read that speaks out against the streetcar projects. Simply put, the streetcar doesn’t add value when IT RUNS ALONG EXISTING BUS ROUTES. What this shows us it that we need public transit that can take us ACROSS MILWAUKEE IN REASONABLE TIME.

    The Mayor has a parcel of city property that will be available once the 794 lakefront on/off ramp is revamped. His job should be seeking out business owners in Chicago to relocate to Milwaukee. We’ve got plenty of housing developments going on in the downtown area, but very little growth in the business sector. I feel the focus has been put in the wrong area. We need to get back to the basics. Recruit businesses to invest in Milwaukee. That will get you your tax base to continue to improve Milwaukee in a meaningful and valuable way that continues to encourage economic development.

  3. Rory Bellows says:

    The point about the ineffectiveness of mixed-traffic routes is interesting and makes me doubt the project. Thanks for the tip about the Human Transit blog–lots of interesting streetcar info there: http://www.humantransit.org/streetcars-trams/

    The other points I think are not so relevant. For a millenial urbanite, fast reliable transit is a huge factor in deciding where to live. If you want to attract young people with high incomes and decades of earning potential, you have to compete on transit.

  4. Beer Baron says:

    Jarrett Walker is a CATO paid goon who has been caught in his lies repeatedly. I don’t know who Samuel Jensen is, but clearly he has been duped be a charlatan.

    It’s a good starter line, but I’m glad to see according to his proposal, the right seems to be in favor of a full-blown regional rail system, so once the first tracks are laid, I say we take out a loan and build it!

  5. smh says:

    So is the drive to stop this the reason Bob Donovan keeps hanging out in men’s bathrooms?

  6. Michael says:

    I too am skeptical about the streetcar proposal. It doesn’t seem to be solving any transportation problem that exists. You can get an Uber from one end of the street car route to the other for around $6. Nor is it solving a development problem. The downtown/east side of milwaukee already has a wide variety of development projects in the works.

    A Wauwatosa to Milwaukee train would be much better in connecting the region, reduce the need for giant double decking highway expansions and would help connect to growing areas with a lot of millennials the cities are looking to attract.

  7. Michael says:

    Beer Baron – A quick google search would reveal that Samuel Jensen is a director of the Milwaukee Transit Riders Union, a group that supports the development of fast reliable public transportation in Milwaukee. The streetcar however does little to improve that.


  8. Russell Rossetto says:

    Well, some interesting point are laid out here. But the failure to take many well known factors into account in explaining why this first leg has turned out as it has points to a straight up, irrational bias against this project.

    First of all, those who are claiming that the project should be sent back to the drawing board have missed many years of planning and opportunity for input. None of these critiques are new, and the best minds in the game have been working on addressing them. The fact of the matter is that constraints play a huge roll in defining a system and what has been settled upon is the best that can be accomplished for a phase 1.

    Expansions into Bronzeville, the southside, and other areas are crucial for a functional system, but they will never happen if phase 1 doesn’t happen. Regarding the Couture addition, the funding didn’t “magically” appear. The funding mechanism used there is self-sustainable based on transit dependent development credits and a kind of near term tax base increase that is in synergy with the street car. Furthermore, I can’t think of a better way to jump start the street car system than by providing summer visitors via the Intermodal Station easy access to the art museum, lakefront, festival grounds and hotels.

    Milwaukee has a first-class public works department, is well known for top notch city planning and has a rich and diversified history of urban transit. The politicization of this project has presented obstacles that aren’t normally present for the construction of a viaduct, a canal re-dredging, a draw-bridge rehabilitation project. But the politicization is probably ensuring that the best possible outcome is being achieved, given budgets and other constraints.

    What’s clear is that not moving forward on this project puts future federal funding for transportation in Milwaukee at stake, and it also sends the wrong message to all of the bold architects of change and innovation and development in this city, in both the private and the public sectors. We cannot be a city that does not embrace these things, because not acting now leaves us with no system for a generation.

    A fruitful tree grows from a vulnerable sapling which springs from a seed in fertile ground. Let’s nurture this thing together and make it something that serves our needs to the fullest!

  9. mbradleyc says:

    He is wrong on all his points. All of them. That’s a little funny.

  10. Jon Fostik says:

    Well thought out concerns for any foray into streetcar planning is always a good thing. In terms of duplication of existing municipal bus routes one would hope that those duplicative bus service would be readjusted proportionally especially during periods when a streetcar is running. This is what happens in larger cities when the METRO or other heavy rail system is launched. The bus becomes a feeder to the new line not a competitor.
    I agree that it would be greatly desirable to have dedicated lanes for streetcars in all cities where they are being considered. That is a shortcoming in the hopefully soon to open H Street Line in Washington, D.C. Citizens should actively push for that accomodation and perhaps articles such as this can influence policy makers. Ideally Milwaukee and the region would address some of the concerns with having a commuter rail system. However the politics of passenger rail, in any form, is unfortunately very politicized in the state. How sad for a state with such a progressive history.

  11. Steven Midthun says:

    The most disingenuous line from the article, “The most important reason why the Milwaukee Streetcar project needs to be sent back to the drawing board…” It is clear that the author in no way would support any form of public transportation, and, ironically, suddenly champions the buses! I wish the opponents of public transportation could muster this type of brain power to bring more business to the city instead of keeping Milwaukee firmly planted in the mid-twentieth century.

  12. PMD says:

    I don’t understand why people believe buses and the streetcar can’t coexist. Plenty of cities have buses alongside another form of public transit like a subway or light rail or streetcar.

  13. Robert Blondis says:

    The one point that Mr. Jensen makes that strikes me as strong is that the present plan does nothing for the near north and south sides of our highly segregated city. The reply seems to be that the current plan is the starter, and that eventually those areas will be served when the system expands. Is there a timeline of some sort so that we know when the expansion is to happen? Action must be taken to get folks who live in these areas and depend on public transportation to available jobs and educational facilities.

  14. Patrick says:

    The streetcar would be a fine, viable, and value-adding addition to MKE if there was more economic activity, destinations in the downtown area, and non-resident foot traffic. Certainly, some MKE residents would find it cool, but cool should never be the first criterion for urban growth. MKE needs to find ways to add fundamental value to people’s futures to attract and retain the right type of business and residents first (which is seems to be doing a better job of) before looking to make largely cosmetic additions to its urban landscape. Also, and perhaps most practically, a growing city—and, again, it seems like MKE is starting to see some growth—should never start erecting high-cost infrastructure until it has a better handle on where the changes will be.

  15. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Great article capsulizes what most of us have been saying to last 30 years. Bunch of us fought “Light Rail”. Does nothing for the city or metro area.
    Kenosha just filed their 5300 signatures to fight the addition of trolley in kenosha. Not used, a white elephant already.
    Just read that Milwaukee has highest Black murder rate in country. Why will we take millions, 100 million or more from the taxpayers via TIF for this nutty idea. We need more cops and better education for Black and Hispanic kids. How willl the choochoo help?
    Thank God that Barrett never became governor he is only screwing up Milwuakee.

  16. PMD says:

    It’s simply not true that light rail would do nothing to help the city or metro area. For example, light rail has been a big success in Utah, of all places. If they can do it, we could do it. And it’s not like every single dollar has to or should go to two things, cops and education. And come on you could 5300 signatures to fight almost anything. Pick your topic. Hardly impressive.

  17. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    PMD. better to have peoel think you are ignorant then open mouth. You have never tried to get signatures obviously. To run for governor you only need 2,000. 5300 is lots. Damn tough. course anything will help somewhat.
    if you are making 50,000 year and have 3 kids, would it help if you bought all new computers, cll phones and new SUV. Course but if that means that the roof does not get fixed, kids have to go to MPS. You have to have priorities.

  18. PMD says:

    “if you are making 50,000 year and have 3 kids, would it help if you bought all new computers, cll phones and new SUV. Course but if that means that the roof does not get fixed, kids have to go to MPS.”

    What the hell are you talking about?

  19. ELH says:

    I agree that we have critical public transportation needs for inner city residents that will not be addressed by the trolley line, at least initially. However, having lived in Minneapolis for many years and seeing the development of the light rail gives me some anecdotal evidence that this may be much more successful than anyone anticipates. It was in Minneapolis. The bus system became a feeder system for the light rail (which, by the way, has street track in Minneapolis and now in St Paul downtowns as the success of the first line led to development of a second line). I don’t know enough about the route here and exact issues it may solve to know what parallels exist. But what was not expected by the general public was how much non-transit users became transit users. That the route was straight-forward from a park-and-ride to specifc downtown venues was attractive. That it is clean, new, etc was attractive to this set. Expanding public transportation ridership among the middle-class expands support for all public transit. There was much more public transportation used to commute downtown from a large first ring suburb. It came from the airport to down town so lots of business travelers use it and LOTS of people use it to go to professional sports events. All of this has relieved highway traffic. There has been a good amount of development along the route and an uptick in customers for businesses already along the route. Downtown Milwaukee isn’t exactly thriving in many areas and a boost in business would be good. And another way to take drunk drivers off the street is good. I tend to agree with Milele Coggs that you can support the street car as well as improved opportunities for the inner city.

  20. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    I keep forgetting that the Left is slow. Priorities. Fix crime and MPS, not take money from them for this turkey.

  21. PMD says:

    Your example above is nonsensical WCD. Crime and MPS are extremely important, but they are not the only important issues or the only issues deserving attention, effort, and money.

  22. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    That statement alone shows why Milwaukee has become third class city top ten most violent, top ten worst run, worst poverty, worst segregation, worst schools. You build a city, a family from bottom up, not top down. That is what detroit did.

  23. PMD says:

    So you’re saying the only issues that matter and deserve any attention whatsoever are crime and education, and that not a single dollar should be spent on anything else?

  24. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Choice to be made. Cater to eastside yuppies, Global warming nuts and talk about streetcars, Arenas or the inner city and talk about crime, unemployment, MPS, poverty??
    I would prefer to have my streets safe before I run a choochoo down them or drive to Bucks

  25. Bruce Thompson says:

    I found this article very strange:
    1. The Jarrett Walker blog post that Jensen links to strikes me as a thoughtful effort to keep realistic expectations for streetcars, not the anti-streetcar screed that Jensen turns it into. In fact, Walker lists 4 advantages to streetcars: they attract more ridership, they promote urban development; they are quieter and more environmentally friendly, and they are fun to ride.
    2. While an openness to ideas across the ideological spectrum may be admirable, this article reads as if ghost-written by the McIver Institute or Citizens for Responsible Government. Yet a quick look at the web site that Jensen is credited with co-founding would place it on the extreme left end of the ideological spectrum. I have to wonder if someone is being used by people with a political agenda.
    3.Jensen uses the rhetorical trick of criticizing the project for not doing all the things it was not designed to do. Unless a project is perfect, it is not worth doing. That route lies stasis.
    4. Jensen criticizes the chosen route but it does not appear that he has bothered reading the discussion of the various alternatives studied.

  26. PMD says:

    I’d like to talk about global warming, crime, unemployment, education, and public transit. I’m sure many others feel the same way. It’s only an either/or scenario for those with narrow, simple minds.

  27. David says:

    People seem to forget that the proposed route is just a starter system. The plan is to connect neighborhoods and ultimately the region. Bus ervice has been cut by 25%, it has no dedicated funding and continues its death spiral. The buses or streetcar debate is a false choice because once the streetcar is killed, the right becomes an apponent of buses. I’ve seen tghis first hand. DOT has just proposed taking transit funding out of the transportation budget and putting it in the general fund, requiring transit to fight it out with all the other programs. The right is no fan of transit whether its bus transit or the streetcar. Public transportation is an attack on their “rugged individualism”. WCD, please stop the lies.

    The city needs to take bold steps because we can’t leave it up to the region. The region is a do nothing, nimby, self righteous, divisive and obstructionist block that has made every urban initiative a partisan crusade. THIS IS RIGHT OUT OF THEIR PLAYBOOK. They have taken on a divide and conquer mentality that calls for the complete isolation of the city of Milwaukee.

    WCD is merley and spin artist that mixes lies with truths. We’re supposed to believe suddenly that buses are the future when the right continually cuts service and eliminates funding. I don’t know who this author is and I don’t care. His arguments only meant to divide the base and are easily rebuked with a little research. He’s a plant. Btw, talk radio is organizing an anti streetcar ralley. God help us!

  28. Dave says:

    I don’t have the impression that the streetcar will be some sort of magic bullet for downtown or the greatest thing since sliced bread but I’m am completely fed up with the lies and misrepresentations of the opposition.

    What is proposed, will cost taxpayers NOTHING (federal funding and TID districts that will capture NEW property taxes from proposed or existing development). Yes, fare revenue won’t cover all operating or maintenance expenses (like all public transportation…or roads, for that matter) but the 2 million or so that taxpayers MIGHT be asked to cover (assuming federal grants run out and increased parking revenue plan is scrapped which I think it should be) is 0.1% of Milwaukee’s 1.5 BILLION dollar budget. That’s literally $2 a year for the average homeowner. $2. F**king. Dollars.

    The money for the streetcar (again, federal funding and TID money) CAN NOT be used to hire more police officers, fix the potholes in front of your house or fund MPS (side note – MPS isn’t even in the City of Milwaukee budget. For as much crying and complaining about taxes I hear from the opposition, you’d think they’d at least look at and understand their property tax bill.).

    This will not interfere or “double up” on services buses offer. As the opposition (suddenly, experts on buses) notes, buses have tires and can run wherever. When the streetcar is running, these buses can be put into service on other routes thus improving public transportation a little bit throughout Milwaukee. I also see “concerns” about speed. Traffic lights can (and should) be programmed to give streetcar priority so that it is an efficient means of transportation.

    If the streetcar is successful, it will be expanded. Part of that success will mean the TID funding worked (i.e. new development occurred and property became more valuable) and model could be used on expansion (again, not taking money from taxpayers).

    I do know this…if the lies of Bob Bauman, AM radio and Dave Sobelman (see the STOP the streetcar FB page) succeed in torpedoing yet another good thing for Milwaukee, I will seriously consider my options for getting out of Milwaukee and Wisconsin. This just another case of ignorant and foolish people opposing any investment and change in our city.

  29. Rich says:

    Every commenter insiting that the streetcar should be scrapped because it doesn’t go to Bronzeville (or wherever) is disingenuous at best and delusional at worst. You have to start somewhere and build support, you can’t start everywhere. The same people who think the $60mil is too much to spend obviously didn’t apply even one second of brain power to how much it would cost to immediately blanket the city with rail, so quit with the false choice argument. So, yes, you go after a niche market that has a chance of success and it grows organically from there when future constituents call their (non-Donovan, non-Davis) alderperson and asks when the streetcar will reach their neighborhood.

  30. David says:

    Remember the right’s anti high speed rail argument? They would argue that no one will take a train between Milwaukee and madison. They leave out the fact that its part of a larger network connecting Chi-Milw-Madison-Mpls. The freeway spur bewteen Milwaukee and madison would be far less useful without the larger network that connects the entire region. But they made that their rallying cry. It’s so difficult to have a real debate. Just think, the money for the street car would barely be enough to build one freeway off ramp.

  31. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Wisconsin people use planes, cars, trucks and buses. They do not ride bikes to work or use rails. Why do we have to subsidize another loser? A lot of Barretts buddies, campaign contributors will get rich on this.

  32. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    $60 million??? What planet are you on? It will be 200 million and the end amount will be 1 billion. Can run lots of buses for that fix MPS and add cops.

  33. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Dave you obviously do not understand TIF districts. They will takee xisting dollars from copshop and MPS to the tune of 100 million or os over the next years. That is straight form state, Dale Kooyenga and Legislative Ref Bureau.

  34. David says:

    WCD…… right. Get a grip dopey.

  35. Dave says:

    Are you operating on the premise that if you repeat the lie enough, others will assume it to be true?

  36. Dave says:

    WCD, that is completely false. TID districts take NEW tax revenue, not EXISTING. BIG difference.

  37. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    First it is TIF districts and the TIF that Barrett is putting together takes a lot of area that is already paying,it will take present tax money over the next decade to the tune of 100 million. “it is better to have people think you are ignorant then open mouth and prove it”.
    Have someone with some knowledge explain it to you.

  38. Dave says:

    The point of TID districts is to build something that will spur development and increase property values and thus amount of property taxes district pays. You can’t not build something and then say those funds could be used elsewhere (for instance, police or MPS) because those funds won’t materialize. It’s misleading at best to claim the streetcar is taking 100 million from cops or schools. Dale Kooyanga is a liar and disgrace to Marquette University.

  39. Dave says:

    I think we’re done here, wcd. If you want to argue whether its a TIF or TID (its a TID) and you take economics lessons from a rat, there is no point in talking with you.

  40. David says:

    Yeah WCD, enough. You lie enough on your own site. Time to move on. We know how it’ll be funded.

  41. PMD says:

    Yeah it is a TID: http://milwaukeestreetcar.com/pdf/The-Milwaukee-Streetcar-GENERAL-FACT-SHEET-FINAL.pdf

    “The plan relies on existing federal funds and TID funds…” But please WCD keep lecturing others on being ignorant.

  42. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Since their is not any additional funds from the streetcar, they are not taxing it it has to take money from existing development, which subtracts money from the schools and copshop to the tine of 100 million. Kooyenga announced that as soon as Barrett announced how he was paying for this. Records from throughout the country shows that there is little new development around this turkey and in many places they lose tenants and building cause the thing is pain in ass.
    This big development lie just like the supposed development form the new Bucks turkey.
    Geniuses itemize the areas where they will get the money from, to add the 100 million or so it will need. Milwaukee must pay fro moving utilities and also the additions.

  43. Kyle says:

    Dave, while you’re right on the concept that TIDs only take new money, some people remember that the Couture was a proposed project before the streetcar was going to run directly to it, and certainly before the streetcar was a required feature of the project. That pokes a hole in the case that all the money from the TIDs would not exist if not for the streetcar. I believe another project on Michigan Street (809 maybe?) is included in the TIDs for the streetcar, and that construction is already underway.

    Also, just to make PMD happy that I’m nitpicking (and to sooth a linguistic irritation), it’s a TID, not a TID district. The D already stands for district. (It’s also not an ATM machine for the same reason.) It’s not a TIF district, though saying “the TIF that Barrett is putting together…” could accurately describe the financing.

  44. Dave says:

    “Records from throughout the country shows that there is little new development around this turkey and in many places they lose tenants and building cause the thing is pain in ass.”


  45. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    PMD it says right in the fact sheet that they are taking property tax money from things that are already built and are supposed to be built, money that would go to police and the schools. Even a leftist dummy can figure that out. The street car does not add any development like a new bulding would.

  46. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Stop the trolley Madness Rally this sat. Jan. 17th from noon to 4 Pm at Elks Lodge 5555 W. Good Hope Rd in Milwaukee.
    Hear the truth about this BS instead of reading all this crap from the Leftists that have destroyed Milwaukee making it the top ten most violent cities and worst schools in country.
    Why do we want to take cops off the beat so a few yuppies can ride around downtown. We need to fix up neighborhoods first.

  47. PMD says:

    This leftist dummy can read, and it’s a TID. But carry on WCD. Being called names by someone 70+ is one of life’s small pleasures.

  48. Dave says:

    “Why do we want to take cops off the beat so a few yuppies can ride around downtown.”

    I give up. Again.

  49. Marie says:

    It is interesting to hear about all the concern for solving Milwaukee’s problems relating to crime and lack of jobs from people who opposed light rail connecting the central city with the suburbs (where many jobs are). Eugene Kane pointed that out in a recent column.

    And the comment about how Wisconsinites don’t use rail–well it’s pretty hard to use if you don’t have it (Thank you, Scott Walker and other anti-rail folks!). Thank god Amtrak still makes a stop here and that tea partiers have not yet killed that.

    Yes, the streetcar needs to be scaled up to better serve more city residents, but we need to start somewhere. It will make it easier for city residents, suburbanites, and tourists to move around downtown and access all the existing business, cultural and dining venues, and encourage more. The route needs to connect to north and south sides ASAP (including airport) and then connect with the suburbs through some sort of regional transit. Public infrastructure–beyond streets and freeways–is much needed for MKE’s growth and sustainability(which should not be a dirty word).

  50. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    We have buses that stop more often and closer to the people than the stupid rail programs. when we fought light rail we talked to the Transit people and they said that they an change routes, add on buses and the Waukesha businesses would be happy to work with us to bring out workers and to help get housing for them

  51. Potsie says:

    “A key consideration is a vibrant downtown community with convenient transportation and easy access to our facilities. As a result we also have a keen interest in the downtown streetcar project and are monitoring that situation closely.” – Johnson Controls spokesperson on potential new downtown development.

    “Yeah, but…. but….um….” – Streetcar opponent.

  52. David says:

    Not true WCD. Outside the county, no one wants transit access to Mikwaukee. Trust me… I was involved in efforts to improve access around the metro area. I will never forget the crazy stuff I’ve heard from residents. All the raping and pillaging that will occur if regional transit ever happens. I’m not exaggerating. Quit resisting and let it happen. You’ll feel better.

  53. Bathroom Bob Donovan says:

    So anyone paying attention would know WCD and those saying it steals from the city are lying. This is from an existing TIF. The money is going to improvements in the area.

    Oh and 5,300 signatures in Kenosha is support? Hombre 98,000 people live there. That number is very low.

  54. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    People here are sure ignorant about what this dopey idea does to the community. Steals millions from the other units for maintenance, shortages for something that is not needed. People are strongly against getting an addition in Kenosha, it is hard to get that many signatures, anyone that says it is is lying. This community has big needs to make the neighborhoods safe and teach the kids. This does nothing except fill the pockets of a few people with federal money than takes money out of everyone elses pockets for perpetuity. We are getting great response from the populace to stop this thing. Not as big as stopping the new Arena but close. The liars here are those that are paid hacks fro Barrett and co.

  55. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    by the way, those advocating this thing are blowing smoke cause they either do not know what is going on or are advocates of this stupidity. By the way the TIF, Dave and others know little about this stuff, takes all the property taxes from all of the schools, city, county for this disaster costing the other groups millions. Will Milwaukee exist and prosper without this turkey?? Yes?? Will Milwaukee propers with lousy schools, high crime, bad management?? No!!!

  56. Robert Blondis says:

    To those of you trying to engage the Wisconsin Conservative Digest person or persons in a civil discussion, I suggest that you are wasting your own time and that of other readers. The person simply parrots the thoughts and words of Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling, ad nauseum. Luckily, chances are the person does not actually live in the City of Milwaukee, and therefore cannot vote here.

  57. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Actually Sykes and Belling parrot my lines. I was heere before them. Have written political columns in various newspapers before they were born. We led the fight against “light rail” in the 90’s with George Watt, Blonien, Czaja, Mett, Scherbert etc.
    The dems give me lots of names to vote in the city every year? Facetious.
    We have the biggest Conservative gang in the state with major numbers in the Metro area, Milwaukee. We helped get David Clarke, Walker others elected, we expose the idiots on county board, Barrett, Gimbel etc. I have worked in city for decades.
    We have seen the city deteriorate under Barrett as in the WPRI research shows that it is Milwaukee, their antibusiness attitudes, poor management, crime, bad schools etc chase everyone out to Waukesha. We want to keep that business in Milwaukee county and to start we need to reduce crime, Fix and break up MPS so the kids can learn and expose the white liberal racists that control this city.
    Brookings exposes Milwaukee’s inept management, top ten worst run and this turkey streetcar is good example. Under Brookings Milwaukee ranked 78th out of top 100 for job growth since end of recession. Madison and Milwaukee are the reasons that Wis. failed to grow well.

  58. Evan says:

    WCD: The areas around streetcar systems in St Louis and Portland have shown economic and density growth since development. This means more taxpayers living in the city, which means more tax revenue for your cherished public schools and law enforcement.

    Milwaukee has money allocated for one purpose only, that being the development of a streetcar system. It cannot be given to the county to fund their bus system, and if the money is not used, it will be sent to some other city for development of their streetcar. So why not use that money, which, again, can only be used for this specific purpose, to spur growth in the taxpayer base, in turn growing the funds for police and schools?

    The fact that you speak on the potential of a new arena with disdain makes it very clear your true feelings regarding the city. This is again reflected by your anti-transit rally being held safely in Tosa, West of Hwy 100.

    I grew up in Milwaukee and never learned to drive, relying heavily on the MCTS for getting around. Seeing your ilk and their messiah Scotty W slowly eroding the service of Milwaukee’s public transportation throughout my life invalidates in my eyes any opinion you hold on the subject.

    Now, I’m a university graduate making fairly comfortable money. I chose to leave Milwaukee in part because of the lack of public transportation that people like you have fought (with racist undertones I might add) throughout my life. That’s one less taxpayer to fund your beloved public schools and police.

    I could go on about how you can’t solve the issues of criminality without addressing the economic root, or the economic and environmental impact wrought by an inadequate transit system, but I don’t think there’s any changing your mind. However I challenge you to really consider what your motives are for stopping this development.

  59. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    You are so full of crap it is funny. How did NY, Austin and other reduce aggravated assaults by 80%?? did they suddenly start handing out money? This dopey left wing stuff has been disproved for 50 years. We had less crime in depression than we have now.

  60. Jonny says:

    WCD – until you master the english language, grammar, and syntax (and apparently the use of fine motor skills to type), no one can possibly take you seriously. Arrogance and ignorance does not make a good argument. You are making fellow conservatives look like uneducated fools. Learn to read, write, research, and type and then you can actually convince. You are embarrassing me as an educated conservative.

  61. Tim says:

    WCD, why do you hurl insults at every opportunity? Do you fail at making better arguments or are you just lazy?

    We know spending money on the Streetcar will pay dividends in economic development & attracting residents. It’s uncertain that plainly giving more money to MPS or MPD will make a difference.

    Riddle me this Bob Dohnal, why do you always shout that the Streetcar’s funds should be going to education & police, isn’t it the right-wing mantra that you can’t fix problems with money?

  62. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    You know?? what expert are you? There is little reason to believe that this turkey that will take 100 million or so from the schools, copshop etc over the next decade or so will produce any development that would not come from buses on the same route. They largely have been failure across the country. Today we meet to get the referendum, let us see what the people that will have to pay for it think? Detroit followed the same model. Fix up the downtown for the yuppies and screw the Black population and the Hispanic neighborhoods. that is what the white liberal racist want just as long as they vote for them in Milwaukee.

  63. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    “Stick a fork in this choo choo cause it is all done”. Yes, sad to say but I never learned to type well. I can spell really well, but get 500 emails daily for the Digest, so have to spread time. In the last 50 years multimillions have read my”scratchins” in various newspapers and all the Conservative and major news media in the country. Must be doing something. right. Maybe they say” if you cannot dazzle them with your knowledge then baffle them with your bulls—“.
    Just came from the CRG rally, hundreds of people are streaming in and they have three weeks to go. These are the people that got over 200,000 signatures to recall Ament. This is child’s play.
    Worst for the pro choochoo people is the fact that most have white hair. They reelly scare you cause they work. Bob Dohnal, Publisher Follow this on facebook: Wisconsin Conservative Digest
    Top copshop guy was there and told us that theya re down 250 positions cause the <ayor places far mor improtance on buying votes and otehr corrupt practices than keep inthe people safe. The white, liberal rcist care little if the inner city is hooting gallery as long as they do not coem out to Shorewood.
    Jonny, that ws really deep. You just have read Scoratesa nd marx.

  64. Tim says:

    So, you’re telling me the choice is between MPS & MPD who have failed to provide top education or safety for all & Streetcars that have enabled BILLIONS of dollars of investment across the country.

    Well, choo frickin’ choo and let’s have “A Streetcar Named Desire” because that’s how I want to improve Milwaukee!

  65. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Tim, you are funny.

  66. Potsie says:

    The Elk’s lodge hasn’t seen a crowd like that since last year’s Pinochle tournament!

  67. Bill says:

    Here’s the problem with the streetcar. Even the proponents of this seem to agree that the proposed route would need to be expanded greatly in order for this thing to be useful. What they never discuss is how much that might cost and where that money might come from. Will there be another Federal grant? Will we be able to invent another TIF district that piggy backs off one of Mayor Barrett’s corporate buddies?

    So the real questions are: How much will the total system cost? Where will the money come from? What will the annual subsidy be? How many people will ride it?

    Let’s get that stuff out there and then we can truly debate the topic and not the half measure that’s being proposed.

  68. Rich says:

    @Bill…Why do you expect all of these answers to be in hand on day one? Perhaps “incremental” is something you’re not familiar with. This is like saying Milwaukee shouldn’t have ever built any roads since the people in 1846 had no information on how many there would be and how much it wold cost…

  69. Wanderer says:

    I just want to say that Jarrett Walker is one of the most respected consultants–nationally and internationally–in transit route and network planning. Walker’s major point about streetcars is that they should be judged on their value as transportation investments. That is the reason to spend $50 million on transportation. Economic development is not, the coolness factor is not.

  70. Bill says:


    I expect these answers because even the proponents of the street car willingly admit that this thing will need to be expanded in order to work. I assume they have a good idea of where and how they’d like to expand this so it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with.

  71. Dave says:

    Assuming we wont get anymore federal dollars and TID funding will be more difficult in areas outside downtown without the high property values, I looked at what it would take from City taxpayers to finance expansion (as if the anti-streetcar proponents would ever allow us to do that seeing as they won’t even let us start the first phase with essentially zero cost to taxpayer). Tacking on 2% to city budget of 1.5 billion dollars a year would be 30 million a year. If we were to do that for 20 years, it’d be 600 million dollars…certainly a good chunk of change. That’s in the ballpark of $25 a year for the average homeowner. Yeah, count me in again.

  72. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Dale Kooyenga, leader of the accountants in the Assembly took, from the prospectuses of the trolley, the fact that this TIF district put together by Barrett will take more than 100 million from the other taxing bodies over the next decade. All to hopefully attract a few yuppies to Milwaukee. At the meeting Saturday, the head of the police union said that the reason we are in the top ten most violent cities in the country is that the copshop is down 250 officers and they expect more cuts. As long as the white liberal racists, writing on this blog, do not care about inner city kids and will gladly sacrifice them for this turkey. Milwaukee will flounder.
    Milwaukee and Wisconsin has always grown form the bottom up, not from people coming into to our brutal winters. Our businesses grow from the skills of the people throughout the state and employ most of the people. Almost all of our growth in jobs has been from within.
    We need to fix our inner cities, teach kids to read reduce violent crime like NY did, work on youth unemployment, abandoned houses, heroin problems before we buy a cadillac toy for downtown like this trolley or the new arena. We owe that to the people here.

  73. Tim says:

    WCD, can you point to a city that’s the same size as Milwaukee, has more cops, and lower crime? How do we know just throwing more badges on the street will work?

    Show us where they’ve hired the cops and eliminated their crime problem.

  74. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Austin, and they have guys with guns all over place and 50 gunstores. But there are dozens, just do some FBI research. We have an authorized force of 250 more. You can go to Bruce Murphy and he has Glenn Frankovis’s outline on policing Milwaukee.
    WE all know that putting in twice as many cops to enforce all the small, broken windows laws has good effect.
    Frankovis was Police captain in the worst precincts in Milwaukee and he shaped them up. He is retired.

  75. Michael says:

    WCD – Milwaukee spends approximately 40% of the budget on Police. Throw in the Fire Department and you’re at 57% . This doesn’t even count the pension contributions.

    Of course the head of the police union wants more cops, union heads always do. We could be spending 100% of our budget on police and fire and he still wouldn’t be satisfied. The city does need to invest in other areas as well.

  76. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    What you say is irrelevant. The reason that humans formed cities is for police, fire, roads. anything else is fluff. We added transportation later after people did not use horses everywhere. These are authorized position to get Milwaukee out of the top ten most violent. Trolleys will not do that. This is basically a big money for the pockets of Barrett’s buddies as no one on the southside or north side is going to use it regularly. A pork barrel for the rich. will produce more income inequality and 1%ers.

  77. Tim says:

    Milwaukee already has more police per capita than Austin, why would 250 more make a difference?

  78. Dave says:

    “The reason that humans formed cities is for police, fire, roads. anything else is fluff.”

    And then we went through a thing called the 20th century.

  79. Gary says:

    Cost of this project is not worth the benefit. There are much better ways (cheaper, flexible) to get around at much lower cost.

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