Transit Cuts Reduced By Abele
After questions raised, his revised 2020 budget finds more revenue for bus system.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced today that some bus routes proposed to be cut earlier this year will now be saved in his 2020 proposed budget. Some $4.1 million in county funding “largely possible due to better than expected health care projection costs for Milwaukee County in 2020,” has been added to the budget for the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), according to a press release from Abele, along with an increase of $2.2 million in federal funding and $1.2 million in state funding that would help fund the transit budget.
In an email to constituents, however, Abele described this as a change in funding priorities he made in response to their concerns. “Through emails and phone calls, I heard from hundreds of residents from all parts of Milwaukee County who would be negatively impacted by MCTS route cuts,” Abele wrote. “I’m proud to announce the re-direction of over $4 million in the 2020 recommended budget to restore some of the routes initially slated for cuts.”
Since March, transit officials have been warning that the system is facing a deficit. In May the system announced they would cut bus service by 10 percent. In August, estimates put the deficit at approximately $8 million.
Just two weeks later Abele made today’s announcement of added funding for the system. In his press release Abele promised to “always fight for every opportunity to renew, restore and rebuild our infrastructure and keep us competitive.”
The funding in the proposed budget saves 12 routes and creates a new service that will run from N. 35th Street and W. Fond Du Lac Avenue through Downtown and the near South Side to the Amazon distribution center in Oak Creek. Seven routes will still be cut. They are: Route 42U: 6th Street – Port Washington UBUS; Route 49U: Brown Deer UBUS; Shuttle Route 17: Canal Street; Shuttle Route 276: Brown Deer; Shuttle Route 223: Park Place – Bradley Woods; Shuttle Route 219: Oak Creek; and the special events lines to Brewers games and ethnic festivals.
Dan Boehm, MCTS president and managing director, said, “While this is good news for 2020, I want to stress that it is only a short-term fix until a long-term funding solution is identified… Balancing future budgets will continue to involve difficult decisions with less funding for essential services unless the state helps the county come up with a sustainable transit funding solution.”
County Supervisor Steven Shea recently launched an online petition to save transit service to the south shore. It currently has over 1,000 signatures. He released a statement Thursday saying: “The County Executive and his administration have heard the voice of the people and have restored these routes as well as others… I want to thank the thousands of constituents who organized with me in support of these critical routes.”
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