City Won’t Delay Streetcar for County
Ald Zielinski's attempt to delay streetcar for county only gets his own vote.
Legislation introduced by Ald. Tony Zielinski to extend the bidding window by two months for the operation and maintenance of the Milwaukee Streetcar was resoundingly rejected today. Zielinski, a streetcar opponent, was the lone council member to vote in favor of the legislation.
The Bay View alderman’s proposal would have extended the bidding deadline from April 4th to June 5th for a contract to operate and maintain the system. This follows a recent, but belated, push by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to request that the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation and Milwaukee County Transit System submit a bid to operate the city’s system.
In arguing for the measure, Zielinski stated “I’m requesting the council approve this matter. I feel very strongly that a local operator should have a chance to bid on this contract.”
Zielinski, who voted in favor of the streetcar in 2011 and then became a vocal opponent by the time of its 2015 confirmation, failed to garner support from the two other leading streetcar opponents. Ald. Mark Borkowski said “it would be hypocritical of me to support this. I have been since day one vehemently opposed to the streetcar.” Borkowski called the streetcar “a financial anvil around the city’s neck” and noted he didn’t want to saddle Milwaukee County with any potential costs. Ald. Robert Donovan drew substantial laughter when he announced “my doctor has advised me at all costs to avoid the streetcar discussion.” Donovan abstained from the vote.
Ald. Robert Bauman spoke at length in opposition to the matter. The downtown alderman and leading streetcar proponent opened his remarks by stating “In a perfect world, if economic common sense were driving this project, if reason and logic were driving this project, of course we would have the Milwaukee County Transit System operate this project.” He went on to lament that “Milwaukee County has at best dragged its feet in supporting this project, and at worse has been an outright opponent. Now at the last minute, not at the 11th hour, but at the 11th hour and 55 minute mark, they come in and say they want to operate it, but they want to operate it on terms different than what the RFP is asking for.”
He noted that while the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 has backed the County Board’s push to bid on the project, whoever wins must have a workforce and under federal rules that workforce will have the right to collectively bargain. Bauman predicted that “ATU employees and members will very likely be doing the work” regardless of who the operator is.
Bauman added that regardless of the vote on this resolution, it wasn’t likely to matter because Mayor Tom Barrett, who has championed the streetcar project, has 10 days to sign any legislation into law. With the deadline for the RFP coming in less than 10 days, Barrett could simply run out the clock on any new resolution by declining to sign the measure until after the deadline.
Surrounding the whole issue is the matter of legality. Bauman, who is a lawyer, noted the city bidding rules are also subject to state and federal law, and that adjusting the RFP deadline could potentially delay the streetcar project through challenges by other bidders. He added that it would hinder the ability of the city to close on a federal grant to build the lakefront line.
Losing the contract or failing to bid doesn’t mean the county will never have a chance to bid again. The first operator contract is being awarded for a minimum of six years, three months with a five-year renewal option held by the city. The farebox system is excluded from the RFP and the city could still coordinate with the county on using the same fare collection system.
The streetcar is expected to start operation in November 2018.
Multiple sources confirm that a number of parties have expressed interest in bidding on the streetcar’s operation.
For more information on the county’s late push to bid and details on the scoring system for the RFP, see my March 23rd column “County Board Okays Bid for Streetcar.”
For more information on project details, how the operator will be selected, what the vehicles will be like, and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
- County Okays Streetcar Bid – Jeramey Jannene – March 23rd, 2017
- Streetcar Track Steel Has Arrived – Jeramey Jannene – March 16th, 2017
- Should County Operate Streetcar? – Jeramey Jannene – March 8th, 2017
- Streetcar Track Construction Starts in April – Jeramey Jannene – February 17th, 2017
- Should County Operate Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – March 8th, 2017
- The Milwaukee Streetcar is Hiring – Jeramey Jannene – January 20th, 2017
- Streetcar Project Receives Federal Grant – Jeramey Jannene – October 12th, 2016
- Council Okays Streetcar to Bucks Arena – Jeramey Jannene – July 6th, 2016
- $6.5 Million in Streetcar Savings – Jeramey Jannene – February 26th, 2016
- Donovan Lies About Streetcar Suit – Jeramey Jannene – February 15th, 2016
- BID Sells Streetcar-Related Development – Jeramey Jannene – January 15th, 2016
- Pennsylvania Company Wins Streetcar Contract – Jeramey Jannene – November 13th, 2015
- City Accepts $14 Million Federal Streetcar Grant – Michael Horne – October 29th, 2015
- Anti-Streetcar Petition Dies – Bruce Murphy – August 28th, 2015
- Scott Walker Aids Milwaukee Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – July 13th, 2015
- Streetcar Construction Starts in October – Jeramey Jannene – July 10th, 2015
- The Strange Politics of Anti-Streetcar-ites – Bruce Murphy – June 18th, 2015
- Anti-Streetcar Petition Drive Fails – Bruce Murphy – March 5th, 2015
- Streetcar Signing Is Quite a Celebration – Michael Horne – February 13th, 2015
- Milwaukee Streetcar Approved – Jeramey Jannene – February 10th, 2015
- Who’s Lobbying for the Streetcar – Bruce Murphy – February 5th, 2015
- Will Streetcar Help the Inner City? – Bruce Thompson – February 4th, 2015
- City Attorney Says Streetcar Petitions Might be Moot – Bruce Murphy – January 30th, 2015
- Millennials And The Streetcar – Bruce Thompson – January 27th, 2015
- Streetcar Responses Show Wide Support – Jeramey Jannene – January 22nd, 2015
- Streetcar Approved, but Held – Jeramey Jannene – January 21st, 2015
- Koch-Funded Group Backs Anti-Streetcar Drive – Bruce Murphy – January 20th, 2015
- Streetcar Backers Say They Have the Votes – Jeramey Jannene – January 20th, 2015
- Who is Funding the Anti-Streetcar Effort? – Bruce Murphy – January 20th, 2015
- Will Anti-Streetcar Referendum Succeed? – Bruce Murphy – January 9th, 2015
- The Story Behind the Streetcar Referendum – Michael Horne and Bruce Murphy – January 8th, 2015
- Council Delays Streetcar Until January – Jeramey Jannene – December 16th, 2014
- Committee Takes No Action on Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – December 10th, 2014
- Committee Approves Milwaukee Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – December 9th, 2014
- RACM Approves Tax Funding for Streetcar – Michael Horne – December 8th, 2014
- How to Sell the Streetcar – Michael Horne – November 28th, 2014
- Next Stops for the Streetcar – Michael Horne – November 24th, 2014
- Barrett Moving Forward with Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – November 18th, 2014
- Who Will Be Streetcar Operator – Michael Horne – May 8th, 2014
- A Streetcar Named Cooperation? – Dave Reid – April 27th, 2014
- How a Streetcar Spurs Development – Angie Schmitt – November 3rd, 2013
- Streetcar Social – Michael Horne – September 12th, 2013
- Mayor Says Streetcar is a “Trojan Horse” – Michael Horne – April 17th, 2013
- Whoops, We Changed Our Mind – Dave Reid – September 27th, 2012
- Battle of the Bobs: Donovan vs Bauman Streetcar Press Conference – Jeramey Jannene – May 18th, 2012
- Important Hoan Bridge and Milwaukee Streetcar Meetings This Week – Dave Reid – November 14th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Passes Common Council – Jeramey Jannene – July 26th, 2011
- Keep the Milwaukee Streetcar Moving Forward – Jeramey Jannene – July 8th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar at Apex – Jeramey Jannene – June 16th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Takes Key Step Forward – Jeramey Jannene – May 6th, 2010
- Milwaukee Streetcar Meeting This Thursday – Jeramey Jannene – October 5th, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Routes Unveiled by Mayor Barrett – Jeramey Jannene – September 21st, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Round-Up – Jeramey Jannene – April 19th, 2009
- Vote for your Favorite Milwaukee Streetcar Route – Jeramey Jannene – March 25th, 2009
- Design Your Own Streetcar Route – Jeramey Jannene – March 23rd, 2009
- Streetcars Coming to Milwaukee – Dave Reid – March 14th, 2009
For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
- Transportation: Should Milwaukee Stop The Hop? - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 13th, 2020
- Transportation: The Hop Now Wears a Mask - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 18th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Is A Couture Deal Finally Coming? - Jeramey Jannene - May 13th, 2020
- Transportation: SUV Driver Runs Into The Hop - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 28th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Kiosks Could Bring In $500,000 Annually - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 20th, 2020
- Thanks A Million, Hop Riders! - The Hop - Feb 19th, 2020
- Transportation: We Energies Will Sponsor Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Ridership Up in January Versus 2019 - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 7th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Ridership Up in December - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 14th, 2020
- Transportation: Ridership Falls for The Hop - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 16th, 2019
Read more about Milwaukee Streetcar here