In 2011, public transit advocates across the state of Wisconsin faced huge challenges in terms of preserving service and capital improvements in the face of anticipated reductions in state funding and tough local budget situations.  These included:

  • A 10% cut in state transit aid, leading to deep cuts in service for bus systems across the State.
  • All RTAs created or enabled in the 2009-11 Budget were repealed. Future RTAs will require a binding referendum for creation.
  • The transit capital bonding program for SE Wisconsin was eliminated.

However, advocates worked hard with local and state elected officials to ensure that:

  • Transit remained in the segregated transportation fund – incredibly important for maintaining state support for transit in Wisconsin.
  • Transit workers were exempted from the collective bargaining provisions in the Budget Repair Bill, which kept $48 million in federal transit aids intact for WI transit systems.
  • A new $5 million para-transit fund was created that will assist in keeping vital services in place.
  • Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) did not implement major service cuts for 2012, using funds allocated towards the now dissolved KRM project to offset the cut in state aid and keep most bus and paratransit services intact for the next 2 years.
  • MCTS also worked to streamline some routes and implement 3 new Express Service routes.

With the economy and jobs continuing to be an area of major concern, transit coalition members and partners were able to convince local elected officials that public transit is vital to our economy and this resonated statewide.  Many thanks to the community and business leaders, elected officials, and citizen advocates who worked together to effectively push back on historic attempts to sideline transit!

November 14th Transit Coalition Meeting Summary

Thanks to those who joined us and the members of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG) for an informational meeting, “Building Aging-Friendly Communities with Transit and Why it Matters to You.”  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett joined Nino Amato (CWAG), Anita Gulotta-Connelly (WURTA), Jeramey Jannene (UrbanMilwaukee) and Kerry Thomas (Transit Now/CAT) to discuss:

  • How important a balanced transportation system is to a thriving economy and community, particularly one that offers people choices to get around (bus, car, bike, streetcar, etc.)
  • The impact of demographic shifts – investing in public transit is both an opportunity to appeal to younger generations that are choosing not to own a car, and a way to fulfill the responsibility we have to ensure aging-friendly communities.
  • How increased poverty and the widening income gap affects people’s transportation choices and employment opportunities.
  • Continuing to focus on building our transit coalition and broaden support for the needed changes to ensure dedicated local funding for local transit.  In 2011 we saw our Coalition connect both rural and urban transit issues.
  • An overview of the changes expected in 2012 for MCTS after the County Budget was passed, including an explanation of three new express routes.

Below are links to the materials and presentations that were utilized at the meeting – feel free to share!

Lastly, MCTS offers FREE rides on New Year’s Eve, courtesy of Miller Lite.  Free rides begin at 8:00pm and run until the end of regular service, except for 13 routes, which extend service until 4:00am.  Visit the MCTS Website for details and route information.

Thanks again for another year of strong and engaged advocacy on behalf of transit and Happy New Year!

Moving Forward Together
Coalition For Advancing Transit (CAT)

November 14th Meeting Materials: