Ald. Tony Zielinski
Press Release

Ald. Zielinski: Mayor diverts additional funding for streetcar that could go to more cops

City Hall news conference set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday

By - Oct 23rd, 2017 05:01 pm

Alderman Tony Zielinski has found additional city funding in the 2018 proposed budget that Mayor Barrett has quietly directed to be used to fund streetcar operations – badly needed funding that the alderman said could instead be used to hire police officers to help bolster public safety.

Alderman Zielinski, who has scheduled a news conference for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday (October 24) in the third floor Council Chamber anteroom at City Hall to discuss the matter, said the total amount of city budget funding for the streetcar that is being kept quiet by the mayor now totals more than $500,000.

“Just weeks ago we uncovered $208,000 for two streetcar management positions that the mayor siphoned off, and now we find there’s another $315,000 going to the streetcar instead of being used for police or fire personnel or property tax relief,” he said.

Alderman Zielinski said the $315,000 is a “Local Transit” line in the Parking Fund 2018 Budget and is the local match for the Federal Transit Administration grant for the streetcar.

“The mayor deliberately chose to use city funds for this purpose,” the alderman said. “It’s time for Mayor Barrett to come clean with the public about where else he’s directing city funds for the streetcar and what that total amount comes to.”

Alderman Zielinski sponsored an amendment (to the mayor’s proposed 2018 executive budget) that would take the $208,000 for two streetcar management positions and instead direct that money to pay for police officers. “The $208,000 funding would allow us to pay for 2.5 police officers to help keep our citizens safe,” he said.

More about the Milwaukee Streetcar

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

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Statement of Alderman Tony Zielinski October 23, 2019

11 thoughts on “Ald. Zielinski: Mayor diverts additional funding for streetcar that could go to more cops”

  1. mbradleyc says:

    How many police are enough? The streetcar improves the quality of life and makes Milwaukee a more desirable place to live. This is critical development. Where do you draw the line? Are you simply against the streetcar? Pandering much?
    Seriously, how many are enough?

  2. Old Man Yells at Cloud says:

    You’re off your rocker. You sound like you’re trying to land a job in Trump’s admin.

  3. Mike Retired at 60 says:

    we are in the middle of a crime wave being committed by hard and vicious juveniles. Not everyone in Milwaukee lives and works downtown. I wonder why they JUNKED our OLD trolley system back in the early 50’s? When every one talks about Federal money remember there isn’t any. We owe 20 Trillion dollars and pay 240 Billion dollars a year in interest on that debt and GROWING. Eight years of progressive spending and not much to show for it.

  4. There was something about riding a Street Car that was a fun ride and exciting. Plus to wait at the Street car stop and watch the Street car riding on tracks. Which a bus could not compare. Today ,without a Street Car Milwaukee Down town looks like a Hick Town. The people who don’t want a Street Car are the (people who never rode a Street Car.) The Street Car will re due the Downtown and I can’t Wait. Years ago they wanted to build a Car Factory here, The same type of people complained then and turned it down. Today that Company is located in Detroit,MI.As a teenager, I would ask my Mother if I could use her Pass to take a Street car ride. NOT THE BUS. IT WAS AN EXCITING RIDE. ESPECIALLY THE #10 ROUTE. I’m 78 years old. BRING BACK THE STREET CAR AND EXPAND THE ROUTES…

  5. Mike Retired at 60 says:

    Electric track-LESS street cars are the way to go. Not going back to the 40’s?

  6. TransitRider says:

    Mike, the Republicans are are at least as responsible for the National Debt as Democrats. When Clinton left office, we were actually paying down the Debt, but George Bush said (before a joint session of Congress) that paying down the Debt meant that people were being overtaxed, so he started increasing the debt again.

    Again, today, the GOP is paying for their “tax cut” by increasing the Debt. The tax cut the average person will get will be less than the amount the tax cut will increase the National Debt.

    As to why Milwaukee’s streetcars were scrapped…

    The old streetcar company was required to maintain (pave, snowplow, sweep) every street with rails. The rails were also subject to property tax. By switching to buses, they avoided all those costs.

    Also, the old tracks used wooden cross-ties which rotted out and required frequent replacement. They couldn’t pave over the cross-ties, so they covered them with bricks which created an uneven road surface that everybody hated. (Pedestrians tripped on the bricks and cars had a very bumpy ride.) And electricity was much more expensive than diesel fuel.

    None of this applies any more. There are no more wooden cross-ties. The road surface over the rails is smooth concrete. And electricity is now cheaper than diesel fuel.

    The Electric Street Car and the Electric trolley Bus, Both had overhead wires for there Electric power.That was back in the 1940’s and 50’s. I rode them every day. If there was a fire or a road block.’ The Street Car or Electric bus where dead stopped.till the road was reopened again. Having over head wires meant the Buses could not reroute.And the Street cars had tracks to stay on.( WHY DID THE ELECTRIC STREET CARS AND ELECTRIC BUSES FADE OUT.) The correct answer is:( General motors in Detroit, MI.) Promised all the Bus Companies and Street car Companies That The Wireless bus was the way to go.It could reroute if the street was blocked. No track maintenance, no wires and provide faster service.
    Back in the 40”s and 50’s the Street Car tracks where paved with solid cement and the ride was smooth as a baby’s skin. The problem was steel wheels and Steel tracks made for a noisy ride. But Bearable.. It had nothing to do with uneven brick roads. Yes Milwaukee had some Brick Side roads. and no one ever stumbled on a brick, that i recall. Plus in the 50’s public transportation was starting to riders, they stated buying cars. The answer was a bus with no wires. it was faster, it could re route and less maintenance

    Please get your History Correct. Wooden cross ties did not rot out and require frequent replacement. That had nothing to do with it..The roads at that time were cement or tarred like today. They where even for Parades on Wisconsin Ave.. And else where!!! People were not dummies back in the 40’s And 50’s..
    The Horse Drawn Street Car, (Well that’s a different story !873 to be exact, it operated on North Jefferson Street.with wooded ties and a brick road..LOOK IT UP. HORSE DRAWN

  8. TransitRider says:

    While GM was involved in many cities’ decisions to scrap streetcar systems, I don’t think it was much of a factor in Milwaukee. To see why, look at a timeline.

    Diesel buses were not sold in the US until after World War II, and GM didn’t start it’s anti-streetcar campaign until it had diesel buses to sell. (Gasoline buses were available before that, but they were quite a bit shorter than today’s diesels, and were not practical for busy routes.)

    Milwaukee decided to scrap streetcars (and replace them with electric trolley buses, AKA “trackless trolleys”) back in the 1930sm well before GM started pushing diesel buses. The first route converted from streetcars to trolley buses was Route 21 (North Avenue) in 1936. Milwaukee bought its first diesel buses in 1950 and found they cost less per mile than the electric trolley buses.

    Milwaukee’s last streetcar was retired in 1957, and trolley bus service stopped in 1965.

    I stand by my statement that streetcar routes were paved with bricks. Other streets were indeed asphalt as were parking lanes on streetcar routes, but road surface between the tracks was brick.

    Here are some photos showing this. The last one, from 18th and Wells, (taken in the 1950s—look at the cars) clearly shows red pavement along the tracks, and darker asphalt parking lanes. The first photo (Howell & Chase) also clearly shows different pavement along the tracks.

  9. TransitRider says:

    Here is another photo from the 1950s clearly showing the brick road surfaces on streetcar routes.

  10. Andre says:

    Tony, claw back the $1.9 million you gave to Bon Ton this year to remodel the downtown Boston Store.

  11. Mike Retired at 60 says:

    I was born in 1956 and remember riding electric busses powered by overhead wires and watching the sparks overhead when it crossed an intersection. Overhead wires would be easier to move than tracks. Once the tracks are in all property along the route will be prioritized at the expense of other areas. One of the reasons we have so many drunk driver arrests is a lousy bus service. Sooner or later Milwaukee taxpayers will have to pay for the trolleys upkeep! Remember the stadium? We are still paying for that. Transitrider I am not trying to blame just Democrats for our expensive debt BUT at least Clinton worked with Gingrich we just had eight years with a president who acted like a KING. If anyone knew how to bend the constitution it was King Obama! Funny how the banks got close to a trillion dollars in Obamas first year and no one went to jail.

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