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The next few days are an especially important time to speak up for preserving transit.  The state budget committee will be voting on the 2013-15 transportation within the next week, possibly as early as Thursday, May 23rd.

Please call or email now to remind Joint Finance Committee members, and your own Senator and Representative, about the urgency and importance of restoring state transit funding to preserve vital transit services in 2014 and 2015.

Even if you have already emailed or called earlier, please take a few minutes now to speak up once more to preserve transit.  Sharing your personal reasons for supporting transit is very powerful – and feel free to use the facts below.

Contact information:

A contact list for the Joint Finance Committee members can be found here.  You can click the links on the document or copy and paste the addresses.  Find your own Representative and Senator here:

Request: Please restore state funding to maintain vital transit services in 2014 and 2015.  Be sure to leave your name and address.


Without a change to the current 2013-15 State Biennial Budget Bill, AB 40, the cut in state funding made in the last state budget would continue, and communities across the region and state would continue to lose transit connections.

In Milwaukee County, one-time federal funding was used to fill the gap temporarily.  That funding will expire in 2014 leaving a $7 million gap in the MCTS annual operating budget.  A loss of this magnitude can only result in very significant and harmful service cuts and/or fare increases.

Restoring state transit funding to maintain transit services is reasonable. It requires less than one half of one percent of the $6.4 billion transportation budget.

Transit is essential part of our transportation system, keeping our communities and our economy working: 

  • Keeps workers connected to their jobs and students to universities, colleges and schools.
  • Supports businesses workforce needs, and the multitude of events and tourist destinations that provide jobs and tax revenues.
  • Makes us more competitive, helping to attract businesses and the young professionals they seek, who are choosing to live in places that offer transportation options.
  • Allows our growing senior population to remain living independently and out of expensive nursing home care, the cost of which often rests on government programs, and ultimately, the taxpayers.
  • Good transit will be even more important to keeping commerce moving during the Zoo Interchange and I-94 reconstruction that will stretch over the next decade.

VIEW THE STATE BUDGET FACT SHEET HERE or see more information at


The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is holding 4 public hearings on the Biennial Budget Bill.  These hearings provide an opportunity to testify before legislators who will make critical spending decisions on transit.   The SE Wisconsin hearing is on:

Thursday, April 4 from 10am to 6pm
At Greendale High School
, 6801 Southway, Greendale  MAP

Scroll down for more information on talking points and tips for testifying.  If you are not able to testify at the hearing, send your comments to the committee members via email, phone or mail.
Also, share this information about transit with associates and friends!

Regional Transit Initiative Policy Platform and Joint Finance Committee Contact Information

Find your State Legislator here or call 1-800-362-9472

Transit is vital to so many aspects of the economy and community of SE Wisconsin, and yet the 2013-15 state budget bill, AB40, continues the harmful 10% cut to transit funding made in the 2011-13 state budget. It also undermines the future of transit by moving transit out of the segregated transportation fund into the general fund where is will be competing with every non-transportation program.

Without a change, communities in SE WI and across the state will continue to lose essential mobility.  Milwaukee County faces a particularly devastating situation when the one-time federal funding expires in 2014 that is funding transit since the 10% cut in transit funding in the last state budget.

Implementing the following 2013-15 state budget priorities is essential to preserving transit service and protecting our ability to create and retain jobs, help train and educate our workers, and connect workers to employers in Southeast Wisconsin.

  1. Restore state transit operating aids that were cut in the 2011-13 biennial budget, to preserve vital transit services.
  2. Maintain transit funding from the segregated Transportation Fund, to provide crucial funding stability. Transit is as integral a part of the transportation system as roads and requires the same stable dedicated funding from the segregated funding source.

Tips for Testifying

  • The hearings draw a big crowd, so arrive early to register to speak.
  • Bring 20 copies of your testimony, if possible – enough copies for the committee (16) and some extras for those who are interested.
  • Be brief – remarks are generally limited to 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Begin with a clear and concise statement of our position and what you want. “I am urging you to amend the budget to include ______________.”
  • Powerful testimony is a combination of personal stories and accurate, current statistics. Speak from your heart.


Milwaukee needs to save its Bucks and its buses  (3/8/13) BizBlog by Milwaukee County Supervisor Michael Mayo

Is Scott Walker killing of public transit? Transit’s funding is uncertain but road builders win big (3/6/13) Shepherd Express

Good Transit Policy Shouldn’t Lean Left or Right  (2/16/13) JSOnline “Purple Wisconsin” blog by Alex Runner

Scott Walker says he’ll invest $6.4 billion for transportation needs  (2/15/13) JSOnline “All Politics” blog by Don Walker

Growing Our Economy: Investing in Infrastructure  (2/14/13) Press Release on Transportation Budget by Governor Walker

Thanks for all of your work on transit over the past months and weeks!  Although this has been a tough budget cycle, we do have some wins to celebrate.  Two weeks ago the Joint Finance Committee voted on key transportation provisions, including a very big vote to keep transit in the Transportation Fund (this is very positive news!) and the creation of a $5 million fund for para-transit over the next two years.

However, a few key items remain unresolved that could have a detrimental impact on local transit systems in WI.  Many legislators are still discussing options, which include:

  • How to reduce the 10% cut in transit aids.
  • Addressing the collective bargaining changes so that Federal funding of some $46 million in transit aid is not affected or jeopardized.

Our State Legislators need to hear loud and clear how integral keeping our transit systems intact is to a growing economy.  Now is the time to reach out and remind them of the benefits of transit and the consequences of transit cuts.  Legislators will go into caucus early next week and begin voting on the State Budget.

Take Action!  Now’s the time to show transit has strong support.

Contact one or more of these legislators by THIS Tuesday, June 14 and ask them to preserve our transit systems.  Thank them for their hard work – we kept transit in the transportation fund but we need them to go further.


  1. We need to restore the 10% cut in State transit aids – only $12 million (or 5%) out of the $6.4 billion Transportation fund will keep our local transit systems at the current level and able to cope with rising fuel prices, while providing essential services.
  2. We need to remove transit workers from the collective bargaining provisions so that WI does not forfeit $46 million in Federal transit funds

Or, write a Letter to the Editor – state why you think transit is so important to our State’s economy and quality of life.  Visit our Media Outreach and Facts pages for tips and talking points.

Lastly, scroll down for links to many transit-related articles, radio shows and upcoming events such as June 16 – National Dump the Pump Day.  The latest Transit Savings Report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows that a two person household that downsizes to one car can save — on the average — more than $10,000 a year.

Don’t forget to contact your legislators by Tuesday, June 14!  We will keep you updated as the budget process continues.  Thank you for your hard work and support!

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit


Dump the Pump Day-June 16, 2011 National Dump the Pump Day encourages people to ride public transportation (instead of driving) and save money.   Riding public transit is one way to beat high gas prices.   Visit to access Fuel and Carbon Savings Calculators and more…

WUWM Project Milwaukee “Southern Connection” series (June 6-10):  A series of stories discussing the benefits and drawbacks of linking Milwaukee and Chicago in a regional corridor.  Most of these stories discuss transportation, including a special forum of civic leaders, planners and business leaders.  On their page, click on “Radio Reports” and other links to learn more.

We received confirmation that the Joint Finance Committee will vote on the remaining transit provisions in the state budget THIS Thursday, May 26th.  These budget proposals, as described in our previous post, can only result in significant service cuts for transit that will cut people off from jobs and harm our economy.

At a recent 4th Street Forum, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Mayor Tom Barrett discussed the detrimental impacts of the proposed state budget for the metro Milwaukee area.  As reported in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, “Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said business and academic leaders should stand together with county officials in opposing state aid cuts for the Milwaukee County Transit System.”

Let’s stand together with our elected officials and fight for transit!

Please take a few minutes to reach out and urge Joint Finance Committee members and your legislators to preserve transit – it is an important part of allowing everyone in our community to have the opportunity to work and lead productive, healthy lives!

The Joint Finance Committee can be contacted by email:
Contact your Assembly Representative and State Senator – find their information here.

Let them know you support transit and to:

  • Keep transit in the segregated Transportation Fund – transit IS transportation.
  • Oppose the 10% cut in State transit aids – as fuel prices increase local transit systems will be limited in making up this shortfall and still provide essential services.
  • Remove the provision that repeals existing Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) – they do not have a fiscal impact and will help provide tools to local communities to better manage transit systems.

Visit our Facts Page for discussion points or scroll down for some links you may find helpful, in particular the Budget Papers prepared by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.  We will keep you updated as the budget process moves along!

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit


Every day it seems that the viability of our state economy is under attack through various legislative proposals designed to undermine our state transit systems.  On average, nearly half of all trips made on transit in Wisconsin are for work purposes.  In Milwaukee County alone nearly 35,000 people rely on transit for work every weekday.

Below you will find links to media articles and radio stories that discuss the proposals we’ve seen – everything from the elimination of Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to the failed application for funds to upgrade the Hiawatha line to strong support from business groups like the MMAC for transit.  The State Budget process is moving quickly through the legislature’s budget committee and there are proposals in this budget that will harm transit and our economy:

  • Proposal to move Public Transportation out of the segregated Transportation Fund.  Moving transit costs to the General Fund, as proposed, would harm everyone as transit would be thrown into a competition for schools, Badger Care, Medicaid and other critical programs in a tough budget.
  • Reduce State Aid to local transit systems by 10%.  This would undermine already struggling transit systems, and local governments currently do not have the necessary tools to make up the difference.
  • The Budget Repair Bill has an unintended consequence, which would force WI to forfeit $46 million in Federal Transit Aids.  Collective bargaining for transit workers is a prerequisite for receiving these funds.  This would slash operating budgets by 30% – 50% in some communities, devastating transit systems statewide.

Also, last week, Assembly Rep. Vos introduced a measure that was passed to repeal the 4 RTAs that were created in the last State budget, including SERTA, which works on the commuter rail project.  It is important to know that last year as we worked on efforts to help support the creation of these RTAs, not one single person testified at any of the public hearings of the Finance Committee to eliminate the RTAs through the budget process.

RTAs provide the tools for a multi-modal transit system; they have broad support from businesses to educational institutions, to environmental groups to local governments to individual citizens and more.

We must send legislators a strong message of support for RTAs!  Contact your legislators, but most importantly, your Assembly Representative, and let them know you support transit and are against the elimination of RTAs and the 10% cut in state transit aid and that transit should stay in the transportation fund.  Find your legislators and tips for contacting them here.

Also, don’t forget to keep those Letters to the Editor coming!  Click here for information on how to submit one or contact us for assistance.  They will vote on this budget in June – stay tuned for updates and what you can do.

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit


Thank you all who came out or supported our efforts around the Joint Finance Committee hearing on the State Budget this past Monday.  Between the “Save OUR Ride” rally with Milwaukee County Supervisors, our members and partners who assisted with the Bake Sale for Transit and those that showed up to testify, we know your efforts had an impact!

Over 200 people were able to provide their testimony at the hearing but approximately 1,000 people showed up at the hearing to participate.  Many people talked about the importance of transit for them to get to work, school and more and discussed the damaging impacts the proposed budget has for local transit systems.  The Joint Finance Committee ran a tight schedule, ending the hearing around 6:30pm.  This article from Third Coast Digest gives a good overview of what happened at the hearing and the variety of testimony heard.

Special thanks to local elected officials such as County Supervisors Dimitrijevic, Schmitt, Jursik and elect Haas, County Executive Elect Abele and City of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for talking about transit and local roads in their testimony!

You can still submit your comments!

If you were not able to attend, or waited for hours and did not get a chance to speak, you can still submit written comments.  We need all transit supporters to send in their comments! Send them by THIS Friday, April 15th:

Be sure to include your full name and snail mail address.  Scroll down for talking points or click here to access our State Budget Action Alert flyer.

If you have a copy of your testimony that you are willing to share – please email it to or   This can be very helpful as we communicate with legislators and want to share personal stories.

We will keep you updated as the State Budget process continues.  Thank you and we appreciate your support!

Moving Forward Together
Coalition for Advancing Transit

INFORMATION on State Budget Bills AB 40/SB 27 & TRANSIT

The proposed State Budget has serious and detrimental impacts for local transit that will undermine Wisconsin’s economic recovery.  Many people rely on transit for work, school, to shop for food and to get to health care.  Nearly half of all trips made on transit in Wisconsin are for work purposes – keeping people employed, living independently and providing an educated workforce is essential to building a stable economy and reducing government costs.

The following changes to the proposed State Budget will help keep Wisconsin families working and our State economically competitive:

  1. Keep Public Transportation in the segregated Transportation Fund. Moving transit costs to the General Fund, as proposed, would harm everyone as transit would be thrown into a competition for schools, Badger Care, Medicaid and other critical programs in a tough budget.
  2. Reject the proposal to reduce State Aid to local transit systems by 10%. This would undermine already struggling transit systems, and local governments currently do not have the necessary tools to make up the difference.
  3. Fix the unintended consequence of the Budget Repair Bill which would force WI to forfeit $46 million in Federal Transit Aids. Collective bargaining for transit workers is a prerequisite for receiving these funds.  This would slash operating budgets by 30% – 50% in some communities, devastating transit systems statewide.
  4. Focus on “Fix It First” – protect Wisconsin families from continued “Pain at the Pump” and give residents a better return on our hard-earned tax dollars.  The current $5.7 Billion budget proposal gives highway spending a 15% increase and cuts transit spending by 10%.   Transit takes just 5% of the total Transportation Fund but provides so much.

State legislators have begun hearings and listening sessions on the proposed biennial State Budget.  The proposed 10% cut in transit funding could mean an 8% service reduction or a 30% increase in fares for MCTS, according to the local planning commission.  Transit systems are truly at a crossroads – facing historic threats AND opportunities too.  The voices of supporters and advocates are needed more than ever!

We MUST INSIST on balanced transportation priorities that solve our budget problems AND keep families connected to jobs, and businesses to the workers they require.  Not only is transit a vital, daily link for thousands of people in our community for school, health care and shopping, but transit is vital to keep Wisconsin working.

TAKE ACTION – Wisconsin’s future is at stake.

Join us THIS Monday, April 11th at the Joint Finance Committee Budget Hearing. Tell legislators your story and why you support transit.  Held from 10:00am to 6:00pm at Wisconsin State Fair Park in the Expo Center, Hall A.

  1. Visit our BAKE SALE FOR TRANSIT, just outside the Expo Center from 9:00-10:00am.  Get your Support Transit sticker and visit with other advocates before the hearing starts, and if you’d like, bring some bakery to support the cause!
  2. RIDE THE BUS to the hearing and pin your transfer to your lapel.  If coming from the east, catch Route 18 at 2nd & Wisconsin to 8200 W. Greenfield.
  3. Join County Supervisors, bus drivers, bus riders, students and others on Monday morning on the “Save OUR Ride” bus ride to the hearing.  They will catch the 44U from UWM to the hearing and when they arrive (around 9:15am) they will hold a brief press conference and rally for transit.  If you are on Facebook, click here to access an Event listing or scroll down for more details.

If you are not able to attend the hearing, submit your comments in writing as soon as possible.  Email to, or send via U.S. Mail to: Joe Malkasian, Room 305 East, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53702.

See below for more information on Monday’s hearing, as well as article links.

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit

MONDAY APRIL 11th – Joint Finance Committee Hearing Details

  • 10:00am to 6:00pm at Wisconsin State Fair Park in the Expo Center, Hall A.
  • Located at 8200 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, WI  53214 (Enter Gate 4 on 84th Street, north of Greenfield Avenue for parking).  Note: The parking fee for State Fair grounds will be waived for Monday’s joint finance budget hearing.
  • Arrive early to register to speak.  The hearings draw a big crowd, so you may need to stay much of the day.
  • Bring copies of your testimony – enough copies for the committee (16) and some extras for others who are interested.   Often legislators from the local community attend the hearing.
  • Be brief but speak from the heart!  Remarks are generally limited to a maximum of 3 minutes.
  • Click here for more Tips for Testifying

If you would like to join the “Save OUR Ride” bus group and ride the 44U from UWM, arrive on the UWM campus on Monday morning at 8:00am and meet them at 8:15am on the corner of Hartford and Maryland.  Parking is available on campus or at the Pavilion Parking Structure at Edgewood & Maryland Avenue.


“State transit cut could mean major service cuts or fare increases in Milwaukee” (MJS 4/6/11)

Out Of Service: Milwaukee Budget Cuts Hit Bus Lines — And Keep Residents From Jobs (Huffington Post 4/5/11)

“Walker beefs up transportation funding…” (MJS 4/4/11)  This article discusses the additional funding that highways would get, while transit funding would get cut.

This year’s Spring Election represents a significant opportunity for transit advocates to identify and support candidates that will take a leadership role on transit.

Transit keeps people working – nearly HALF of all transit trips are for work purposes, with 35,000 people using transit to get to work or other job opportunities EVERY DAY in Milwaukee County alone.

C.A.T. and other partners believe that a long-term strategy must include the building of consensus and strong support for regional solutions to our transit challenges in southeast Wisconsin – County Executives, Supervisors, Mayors, Council Members and others are key to our success!

Many people rely on transit for work, school, to shop for food and to get to health care.  Keeping people employed, living independently and providing an educated workforce is essential to building a stable economy and reducing government costs.


Local electeds have a significant impact on our ability, as a Coalition and a Community, to implement the solutions we need to preserve, improve and enhance our local transit systems.

To look up your polling place and other information regarding Election Day, contact:


State budget bills AB 40 / SB 27 have serious problems for local transit. Its impacts are wide-reaching and long-term – driving up job losses and increasing workforce challenges for businesses.  This will undermine Wisconsin’s economic recovery.   Wisconsin needs a budget that supports our local transit systems, which are a vital, daily link for thousands of people in our community.

What can you do?  TAKE ACTION – Wisconsin’s future is at stake.

  1. Attend the Joint Finance Committee Budget Hearing on April 11. Tell them your story and why you support transit.  Held from 10 AM – 6 PM at Wisconsin State Fair Park in the Expo Center, Hall A.  Located at 8200 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, WI  53214 (Enter Gate 4 for parking).

  2. Submit your comments to the Joint Finance Committee as soon as possible or by April 15.  Email to, or send via U.S. Mail to: Joe Malkasian, Room 305 East, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53702.

  3. Contact your State Legislators and let them know your concerns.  Visit our new page, “Contacting Elected Officials” for assistance.

Click here to access our State Budget Action Alert Handout, where you’ll find links to legislators and key facts about the transit issue for SE WI.

Stay tuned for more information later this week about next Monday’s Joint Finance Committee hearing!

Here is an update on the transit-related issue for the Budget Repair bill (SS SB 11), which is scheduled to be voted on today or tomorrow.  Below is an article discussing how this measure could have extremely detrimental impacts on the majority of transit programs, both urban and rural, throughout Wisconsin.  This may not impact Milwaukee, Racine or Waukesha, but it will impact Kenosha and other systems – this would be a huge step backwards for the ability of local communities in Wisconsin to provide transit services.  Even Senator Alberta Darling has stated she would like to discuss/address this before voting on the bill.  

Please take a few moments to call the following legislators, as well as your own, and ask them to consider the impact on transit systems in Wisconsin before voting on the bill:

Read More:  Walker budget repair bill puts $46.6 million annually in transit aids at risk – Federal Transit Aids Get Mired in Budget Bill

Summary:  Under the Budget Repair Bill (SS SB 11) proposed by Governor Scott Walker, transit systems in Wisconsin could lose $46.6 million in federal transit aid.  The federal government is a financial partner in providing public transit services in local communities, ensuring citizen accessibility, safety and service stability.  This long time successful and efficient partnership would be greatly jeopardized or eliminated with the enactment of the budget repair bill under consideration.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:  “The measure by Gov. Scott Walker would strip most union rights away from most public employees. That could put in danger federal aid for buses because U.S. law requires that collective bargaining rights remain in place to get federal funds, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.”

The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released a briefing paper outlining the specific risks to Wisconsin communities. They found that some transit systems in Wisconsin would not be affected because they are private companies that are under contract to local municipalities, which means they would not be affected by the labor provisions in the Budget Repair Bill. However, the final result could mean a loss of $46.6 million annually in federal transit aids to Wisconsin.

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the Joint Finance Committee, wants to address the transit issue before the bill is voted on.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said no changes will be made to the bill to would ensure transit funds are not at risk before it is voted on today.

We just wanted to take the opportunity to thank the members of the Coalition for Advancing Transit for your efforts and commitment to working on behalf of transit in southeastern Wisconsin.  The past year has had its share of ups and downs, but as we head into the New Year, we know that our work must continue and we must demand a better public transportation system.

The economic vitality of Southeastern Wisconsin depends on having a strong regional transit system and dedicated local funding that will not only preserve and improve it, but will also contribute to the success of families, businesses and communities in Wisconsin.  We know you are all committed to this vision, despite its challenges.  For this, we thank you.

As our other Coalition members and partners have noted, 2010 saw a remarkably broad and diverse coalition join forces across the state to support giving local communities and regions the ability to fund and coordinate efficient regional transit systems.  We have a strong foundation as head into 2011 – stay tuned for more information the following events:

  • Early-Mid February the Governor will deliver his state budget proposal
  • February 23, 2011: Transit Lobby Day in Madison from10:00am to 2:00pm.
  • March: Joint Finance Committee budget hearings will take place; this is a time for you to express your wishes about better transit.


On December 9th, the US Department of Transportation announced that $810 million in federal stimulus funds allocated to Wisconsin would be redistributed to other states to build inter-city High Speed Rail connections.  There has been significant coverage on this over the past few weeks – scroll down for links to various articles.

The Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association (WURTA) recognized State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) as this year’s Transit Legislator of the Year in acknowledgement of her commitment to transit issues and opportunities throughout Wisconsin.  She received this award at a time when Wisconsin’s future commitment to a diverse transportation system is in question.  Recently appointed the ranking minority Assembly member to the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee for the 2011-2012 legislative session, Rep. Grigsby has pledged to continue making transit and job access a priority in Wisconsin.  Take a moment and email or call her to thank her for her efforts – we will need her commitment as we move forward! or (608) 266-0645

Milwaukee County Transit System Updates:

MCTS received a grant that would work to make transit more inviting to passengers with disabilities.  Full story >>>

On New Year’s Eve, ride Free! Thanks to Miller Lite, all rides on MCTS will be FREE AFTER 8:00PM until the end of regular service.  In addition, 13 routes serving popular venues will extend service until 4:00AM.  Last year nearly 15,000 rides were given so make it your New Year’s Resolution to have a safe New Year’s with MCTS!  Read more>>>

Remember…Beginning Sunday, January 2, MCTS service changes approved in the 2011 Milwaukee County Budget will go into effect.  While three Freeway Flyer routes will be eliminated, two routes will be adjusted to serve other park-ride lots.  Additionally, frequency on some Saturday bus routes will change.  Read more>>>

Also – a win!  Congress approved the extension for the Transit Benefit, which allows pre-tax deductions for transit up to $230.  With the increase, the transit limit now matches the monthly amount allowed for parking expenses. Since it was introduced, thousands of commuters have taken advantage of the incentive and additional savings, which has increased ridership in mass transportation.  Learn more>>>

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

The Coalition for Advancing Transit
Moving Forward Together