Ald. Nik Kovac
Press Release

A big league city needs big league public transit options

Statement of Alderman Nik Kovac November 19, 2014

By - Nov 19th, 2014 05:17 pm
The streetcar as it meets Broadway in the Third Ward.

The streetcar as it meets Broadway in the Third Ward.

Milwaukee is a big league city. I’m not just talking about the Bucks, the Brewers and the Packers. Across all categories of culture, we punch above our weight. Whether it’s the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the Symphony, the Orchestra, Pabst and Turner Halls, the Art Museum, the Harley Museum, Discovery World or Summerfest, we are a destination for artists and lovers of culture from across the world.

There is one major category, however, where we come up way short. Take a look at the list of cities with fixed rail as the spine of their transit system, and we are the only major league city without it.

After decades of waiting, planning and debating, that is finally about to change. In the next few weeks the Common Council will be voting on the Mayor’s bold new plan for public transit, and I will be proudly voting YES.

These 4.6 miles of streetcar track will connect the Intermodal Station to the lakefront and both of those places to the rest of downtown and the lower east side. Those miles of track will spur new cranes in the sky for developments that could total a private investment of $2 billion.

The money we will invest to make that happen is $59 million. Without that investment, that additional tax base simply won’t be there. We are not diverting tax dollars from other priorities. We are creating new resources. It is a smart investment by any measure.

And these tracks are just the beginning. Extensions are planned to the northeast, the north, the west and the south. Even with these valuable connections to our neighborhoods, the streetcar will never replace our bus system. Rather, the fixed rail and the rubber tires will work together—like they do in every other major American city—to get people around.

In fact, this investment in a fixed rail spine to our regional transit system will increase ridership and thereby reverse the current downward spiral. In the last decade, we have lost riders, investment and routes. That will now change. Bus riders throughout the city and county will benefit from a reinvigorated commitment to alternative transportation.

I am proud to live in this great, beautiful, diverse and vibrant city. Like so many of my neighbors, we can’t wait to make this an even better place to live, work, play and get around in.

Urban Milwaukee Streetcar Coverage

Streetcar Renderings


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One thought on “A big league city needs big league public transit options”

  1. Polly Reber says:

    Those of us who are against the “Trolley” are being totally ignored. I have e-mailed my alderman, Nik Kovac and our Mayor . No response from either of them. We have lived on the east side of Milwaukee for 30 years and have never heard anyone complain about transportation to the downtown area. Our City Government is on an ego trip, I will NEVER vote for Barrett or Kovac again , they do not have the best interest of the residents of this city as a priority. A city wide vote would show how the people feel, that’s why a vote won’t happen.

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