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A number of important events and activities are underway in the next 2 weeks to support transit. Read below for all the details on Wisconsin Transportation Town Hall Meetings, National Transit Action Month, Bike to Work activities, Milwaukee Streetcar social and more! And if you keep scrolling down, you’ll find links to articles and updates from the past few months.

Moving Forward Together
Coalition for Advancing Transit

It’s Bike to Work Week! From May 11-17, many communities across the state have scheduled fun events to encourage more people to consider bike commuting and to reward those that already do! Learn more at the Wisconsin Bike Federation website, and search for events near you.

Milwaukee Streetcar Update
Read the latest developments in their April newsletter, including an upcoming social on Thursday, May 15 from 5:00-6:30 p.m., a local retailer who re-located his business from the suburbs to be on the streetcar route will host a Streetcar Social. This free, casual gathering of like-minded people is the first in a series of periodic events to promote ridership, raise awareness and support businesses along the route. Learn more here>>>

Transportation Moves Wisconsin – Town Hall Meetings
Presented by WI Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb

These town hall meetings are unprecedented—and so is the challenge the secretary will be tackling: a $700 million budget shortfall, which will only continue to increase in the coming years. Big changes are coming. Town Hall participants can:

  • Fill out a green sheet with comments
  • Videotape a brief message (30 seconds) about why transit or paratransit are important to you. Come prepared with your message!
  • Listen to the Secretary’s remarks and ask a question.

This is an important time to speak up for transit as economic, workforce, and quality of life priorities, and urge the Secretary to support transit policies that are vital to our economy.

Meetings will be held in SE WI next week – Secretary’s presentation is at 5:30 p.m., Q&A to follow.
View this flyer for important event details and transit information.

Tuesday, May 20 – 5:00 to 6:30pm
MATC West Allis Campus, Room 117, 1200 South 71st Street
MCTS bus Rts: 23, 56, 76, Blue Line.www.ridemcts.com  Parking map:http://bit.ly/SzXSjp

Wednesday, May 21 – 5:00 to 6:30pm
At Gateway Technical College, Madrigrano Auditorium, 3520 – 30th Avenue
Kenosha Transit bus Rts: 1, 3, 6. http://bit.ly/1mC5lM7

SE WI Transit Systems:  http://www.yourotherwheels.com/

For more information about the Transportation Moves initiative and the Town Hall meetings: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/about/tmw/index.htm

May is Transit Action Month
On Tuesday, May 20th, participate in National Transit Call Congress Day

Join transit riders, workers and advocates to call for more and better public transit.  Transit supporters can let their elected officials know they support increased funding for public transit in the surface transportation bill and the impact that massive service cuts and fare increases have had in recent years. Tell them about the importance of transit to get to work, school and everywhere in between!

Find Wisconsin US Congress Members here. Link includes name, district and phone numbers for the representatives able to work directly on federal transit funding.

Learn more about Transit Action Month here or at www.TransitIsGreater.com

Wisconsin Transit Riders Alliance Meeting: Thursday, May 22 at 10:00am, Madison
In Rm. 302 of the Madison Public Library’s Central Branch 201 W. Mifflin St. (a block away from the downtown square).
Learn more about this affiliate of WURTA at www.witransitriders.org

Milwaukee Transit Riders Union Meeting: Thursday, June 5 at 5pm
At Hillside Terrace Resource Center, 1452 N. 7th Street, Milwaukee
“Jobs and Justice: A forum on regional transit”
Learn more at www.transitridersunion.org

New website launched dedicated to car-free transportation options
Bus, bike, walk has information about getting around the state using transit (intercity and intra-city transport info and links are provided) as well as policy background and advocacy for transit, biking and walking. Check it out here: http://www.busbikewalk.org/

IN THE NEWS

Yes! Bike Sharing is coming this summer (UrbanMilwaukee 5/14/14)

Biking with the Mayors (UrbanMilwaukee 5/13/14)

Who Will Be Streetcar Operator? (UrbanMilwaukee 5/8/14)

City of Milwaukee expects $20M more needed for streetcar project (BusinessJournal 4/22/14)

What To Do About DOT’s $650 Million Funding Gap (WUWM 4/18/14)

More Transit Funding Needed, Fitch Ratings Warns (UrbanMilwaukee Streetsblog 4/9/14)

WisDOT secretary outlines funding crisis (BizTimes Morning Headlines 4/9/14)

Press release: New Study: Riders Want Improved Transit. Abele Offers Plan to Add Service, Asks For County Board Support  (Posted on UrbanMilwaukee 4/8/14)

County Executive Chris Abele offers sound plan on transit services (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial 4/7/14)

Chris Abele renews push for outside operator of transit system (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 4/2/14)

4th Street Forum – Beyond Roads: Transportation Issues Today and Tomorrow (Aired 3/21/14)

Milwaukee’s Transit Decrease in Context: Our estimate puts 2013 as the worst year in the last 25 years of Milwaukee’s bus system (Milwaukee Magazine 3/11/14)

Milwaukee transit ridership down, bucking national trend (BizTimes 3/11/14)

Milwaukee out of step as public transit use rises nationally (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 3/10/14)

Sen. Miller: Introduces bills to improve public transit throughout Wisconsin (WisPolitics 3/7/14)

The Transit Agenda: Supporters headed to the State Capitol for “Public Transportation Day,” meeting with legislators, promoting their agenda, and handing out awards (UrbanMilwaukee 3/7/14)

Supervisors seek new bus contract bids, with county-run option in play (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 3/5/14)

Wisconsin Urban & Rural Transit Association (WURTA) 2014 Legislative Day at the Capitol (Mass Transit Magazine newsletter 3/5/14)

Greater Milwaukee Committee group wants to jump-start transit debate (BusinessJournal 2/25/14)

Our View: Legislature should allow creation of regional transit authorities (JSOnline 2/13/14)

You are invited!  Join us on Thursday, January 9th for the second series of VISION 2050 Planning in partnership with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC). Workshops were held in each county earlier this month, but if you missed it, this is your chance to participate!

On the agenda:

  • Hear from SEWRPC staff the results of the first series of VISION 2050 workshops.
  • View a set of draft Guiding Statements about regional land use and transportation.
  • Provide your feedback on the Guiding Statements – review, rate and suggest improvements.

Details:

Thursday, January 9, 2014 from 3:30-5:00pm
Held at ManpowerGroup, 100 E. Manpower Place, Milwaukee  MAP
Refreshments will be provided.
RSVP HERE

This workshop and review of the statements will serve as a guide for how the Region should move forward and for developing “sketch” future land use and transportation scenarios—the next step in the VISION 2050 process.

Manpower is located east of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (3rd Street), off of Cherry Street and just north of downtown Milwaukee. Parking is available on Cherry Street and in the Visitors Lot north of the building (on Cherry). Bus routes 19, 80, 57 and Green line all run nearby. Visit www.ridemcts.com to plan your trip. 

Learn more & get involved:

Workforce Mobility Study released this week
The Public Policy Forum released their independent study “Getting to Work: Opportunities and obstacles to improving transit service to suburban locations.”  The study was commissioned by Transit NOW with support from Greater Milwaukee Foundation. It provides data-driven information and analysis that will hopefully lead to action steps that will meaningfully address critical workforce transportation issues.

State Rail Plan posted by WisDOT, comments accepted online through December 30. Learn more at http://www.dot.state.wi.us/projects/state/railplan.htm

SB259, a bill to authorize the creation of a Regional Transit Authority in the Fox Cities, is underway. A public hearing was scheduled for today at the State Capitol. Read the bill here: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/sb259

As we look back on 2013, many exciting opportunities to further transit got underway including the 2013-15 State Biennial Budget and VISION 2050 regional planning process. We look forward to continuing to inform the coalition about these and other ways to continue to show your support for transit in 2014.

Happy Holidays!

Moving Forward Together
Coalition for Advancing Transit

ARTICLES & INFORMATION

Milwaukee sees steep decline in driving, WISPIRG study contends (JSOnline 12/11/13)

21st century technology is the new ticket for Milwaukee County Buses (JSOnline 11/29/13)

Bill Targets Federal Transit and Bike Funding (Streetsblog, posted on Urban Milwaukee 11/20/13)

Who Will Run the County Buses?  (Urban Milwaukee 11/14/13)

Once nearly extinct, streetcar gets new life  (Associated Press 11/12/13)

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: BudgetComments@legis.wisconsin.gov
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

ARTICLES & INFORMATION

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

ARTICLES & INFORMATION

C.A.T. Update – September 29, 2010

Thanks to those who came to the Coalition for Advancing Transit Meeting on September 16.   It was a great discussion and we had wonderful participation from over 40 members.   The meeting included an update from Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) on the 2011 Budget and a review by Kerry Thomas of Transit Now of what has happened in transit since the spring legislative session ended.   For a full update, including Key Milestones and Lessons Learned, visit the CAT Google Groups Page here: http://bit.ly/bqvzXK

Moving Forward – Recommendation: Launch a Transit Campaign

The C.A.T. Steering Committee met several times over the summer to discuss where we go next given that the RTA bill did not pass in the last legislative session.  The recommendation is that the Coalition for Advancing Transit form and launch a “Transit Campaign” that will focus on increasing support in the community in a very broad way for an RTA and dedicated funding for our local transit systems.   At the meeting, we discussed a list of proposed strategies and next steps.   A Strategy Planning Session will be held in October; CAT Members are encouraged to sign up and be a part of making this happen! Contact kristi@uedawi.org if you are interested in joining this effort.  Otherwise, stay tuned for updates throughout the fall and winter!

To review the Transit Campaign Strategy items, visit the CAT Google Groups page here:  http://bit.ly/aZIJEi

Recent Reports & Articles:

As we heard at the 9/16 meeting, MCTS has proposed transit service cuts to meet a 2011 budget shortfall.   The Center for Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee released a study a couple weeks ago that showed these cuts would eliminate transit access to at least 24,350 jobs in Milwaukee County alone.   The MCTS budget proposal is the beginning of the budget process.  County Executive Scott Walker will deliver his budget proposal on September 30th at 9:30 AM for County Board approval.

The loss of critical access to jobs will be an annual fact of life in Milwaukee and other communities until a permanent dedicated source of funding is found. The easy service cuts have been made years ago.  Now we are chopping away at the very bedrock of the metropolitan transportation system – to learn more about these impacts, read the entire study (see link on the right):  http://www4.uwm.edu/ced/index.cfm

WISPIRG has released a new report that shows how the Midwest High Speed rail (or Inter-City Rail network) will boost the economy in short and long term, modernize and improve transportation for Wisconsin and the Midwest.  Read more here:   http://bit.ly/a1erJs

Also, the Make It Work Milwaukee Coalition is hosting a Candidate Forum THIS Friday, October 1st! Hear about Issues & Ideas with Milwaukee Area Candidates for State Senate and Assembly.  It will be held from 1:00-3:00PM and will be moderated by Marcus White of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.  Location:  IndependenceFirst, 540 South 1st Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204.  RSVP: Please contact Disability Rights Wisconsin at 414-773-4646 or elisec@drwi.org.

We will continue to update you as we move forward with the Transit Campaign.  Also, visit our Timelines Page for a list of key dates this fall where you can get involved in this issue! (http://bit.ly/aZIJEi)

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit

It’s time to recharge and there is some urgency!!

Thursday, September 16th at 8:00 AM at Manpower International, Milwaukee

Eager to learn what’s happened on the regional transit front over the past 2 months? Despite the lack of success in the spring legislative session to get an RTA and dedicated funding for SE WI transit, there have been a series of announcements and activities over the summer regarding key investments that will be made in public transportation.   Now’s the time to stay engaged. Plus we still need to get dedicated funding for our local bus system – a vital infrastructure component of our local and regional economy.

This event is FREE and open to the public, so invite your friends and transit supporters!   You will hear from:

  • A representative from the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), who will provide an update on what 2011 will look like for the County Bus System.
  • C.A.T. Steering Committee members will provide
    • an overview of what we think happened with the State legislative session last spring,
    • what’s happened since the legislature ended their session, and
    • where we go from here  –  locally, regionally and state-wide

What we need from you: JOIN US and provide your input! We want ideas from C.A.T. members on how to increase our advocacy and campaign on a grassroots level to show more support for transit as we head towards 2011.

Check-in and Networking will begin at 7:30AM, the program will start at 8 AM and we intend to wrap up by 9 AM.  You will have the opportunity to enjoy breakfast refreshments and network with other members in the Coalition to learn what WE can all do together to move regional transit forward.

RSVP to Kristi Luzar, Program Manger at UEDA:  Phone: (414) 562-9904 or kristi@uedawi.org

Location Details:

Manpower International is located on 100 Manpower Place, which is East of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (3rd Street), off of Cherry Street and just north of downtown Milwaukee.  Parking is available on Cherry Street and in the Visitors Lot north of the building (on Cherry).  Bus routes 19, 80, 57 and 15 all run near Manpower. Visit www.ridemcts.com to plan your trip or call the Bus Line at (414) 344-6711 (24-hour automated) for assistance.

Also, this was announced yesterday:

Transportation project awards include KRM money – Published:  September 9 by The Daily Reporter
Gov. Jim Doyle on Thursday announced $37.5 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) awards that will help 25 transportation-related projects in southeastern Wisconsin that don’t meet federal ozone requirements.  Four awards will be used to invest in public transportation, according to a release from the governor’s office.  Milwaukee County was awarded near one-quarter of the available money. Read more:  http://bit.ly/cjht7d.  Also covered in the BizTimes:  http://bit.ly/clbX5N

And more coverage and an Editorial by the Journal Sentinel on the Inter City Rail line from President Obama’s visit and announcement on Labor Day:  http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/102483044.html

Moving Forward Together
Coalition for Advancing Transit

An update from the Coalition for Advancing Transit…

On the Federal front, Transportation for America (T4America) has been working to align national, state and local transportation policies with issues such as economic opportunity, energy security, housing and more.  They are focusing on issues that will play a key role in giving families and individuals greater and more appealing options when it comes to transportation – their vision for the 21st Century.

T4America advocates for more equitable funding for transit at the federal level and this week the Senate introduced new legislation to provide up to $2 billion in grants for transit agencies across the U.S. to preserve vital services.  Learn more about this bill and take action; check out their site and learn more about T4America.

On the Local front…Representative Tamara Grigsby continues to shine when it comes to supporting transit solutions for SE WI.  This week her Op-Ed was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. See below for a message from her and links to the full Op-Ed.

And…the Milwaukee County Transit System’s (MCTS) celebration of “150 Years of Public Transportation” continues on the morning of Wednesday, June 9 with Miller Lite Free Rides on ALL ROUTES from when the buses pull out until 9:00AM. Route and schedule information is available by calling 1-800-FREE-RIDES (1-800-373-3743), by texting “FREERIDES” to 30364 or by visiting www.MillerLiteFreeRides.com.

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit

Dear Friend of Transit,

I wanted to take a moment to pass onto you an opinion piece that’s running in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. We can’t give up on our communities and our regions that depend on public transportation. Please know that I’m committed to continuing this fight.

Best Wishes,
Tamara Grigsby
State Representative, 18th Assembly District

Link to article >>>

The necessity of transit, By Tamara Grigsby Posted: May 25, 2010

Like the many businesses that support it, public transportation is a cornerstone of any modern, urban economy. Businesses, labor leaders, community advocates, and employers realize the necessity of mass transit.

With so many groups showing continued support for this vital investment, it’s time we all recognize the job creating benefits public transportation provides to our community and region. In a very literal sense, transit means business, which is why we cannot give up on expanding economic opportunity through smart investments in public transportation. A functioning transit system makes sense in terms of the opportunities it creates and the money it saves.

Studies show that a commitment to transit can save residents approximately $1,040 in vehicle, parking, and roadway costs, providing a 277% annual return on transit investments. According to the American Public Transportation Association, households can save an average of $9,293 in transportation costs each year.  This is in addition to savings in the form of congestion reductions, increased traffic safety, and a healthier environment that benefits everyone.

Given the obvious positives, opposition to smart transit investments is perplexing, especially when recent efforts to revitalize the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) could have been tied to direct property tax relief for Milwaukee County.

Throughout the recent debate on regional transportation for Southeastern Wisconsin, businesses highlighted the many successes they were having with new job creation, yet raised concerns as to how they could possibly gain access to a necessary workforce if there were no functioning bus system in Milwaukee.

The combination of public savings, benefits to business growth, and additional development that comes from investing in public transportation underscores how truly essential transit it is to our community and economy.

We cannot forget one of the most important aspects of public transit: the people who use and rely on it.

According to customer surveys taken by those who use buses in Milwaukee County, an overwhelming 70% of riders do not have a car they can count on for travelling to work, the hospital, or a number of other important locations.

According to one estimate, MCTS also uses its paratransit services to provide more than 1 million rides a year to persons with disabilities. Given the number of jobs, businesses, and individual lives that depend on our transit system, the implications of its further erosion will be disastrous.

We must find a way to stop the coming transit tragedy.

Public transit is a smart way to grow the economy, creating a public investment that has vast benefits, both public and private. Failure to invest in this important and economically vital infrastructure will result in nothing short than the continued decay and eventual collapse of Milwaukee County as we once knew it.

The current legislative session is over, but the fight for public transportation is not. Transit means business for everyone, which is why everyone needs to come together for transit as Wisconsin moves forward.

Tamara Grigsby, a Democrat, represents the 18th Assembly District.

April 29, 2010 UPDATE

Despite the disappointing outcome of the past legislative session for local transit systems throughout the state of Wisconsin, the fight goes on!  At the Coalition for Advancing Transit, we believe it is absolutely necessary that we continue to push for the solutions required to save and invest in our local bus systems and other forms of transit. 

The ability to form and fund an RTA is a critical launching point for creating an integrated, regional transit system that will provide economic benefits to cities, counties and regions in Wisconsin.  In the past two days, both C.A.T. and Transit Now have released statements to the media and elected officials regarding the most recent outcome:  http://tiny.cc/ipdgx

The Racine Journal Times had a nice editorial afterwards (“Legislature Needs to Act” http://ow.ly/1EM6q) and our friends at UrbanMilwaukee had their take on the outcome too: http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2010/04/26/rta-on-hold-for-now/

So in that fighting spirit, we encourage you to stay engaged as we move forward – we are talking to our other advocates and partners about where we go from here and will be in touch soon.  See below for more links to MCTS’s 150th Anniversary celebration, National Train Day and research from the Pew Charitable Trust.

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit 

There are plenty of reasons in the next couple weeks to celebrate the benefits that transit brings to our community. 

On May 7, 2010 the Milwaukee County Transit System will celebrate “150 Years of Transit” beginning with rides all day for FREE on Route 15 (Oakland-Kinnickinnic), in honor of the first transit route, which operated on a portion of the current Route 15. Northwestern Mutual is sponsoring the rides, which last from start to end of service.  MCTS will also unveil the new look for the 90 new Clean Diesel Buses which will be arriving this summer on May 7.  

From the days of the horsedrawn carriage to the streetcar to the trackless trolleys to the near-zero emissions buses arriving this summer, the incredible support of our community partners underlines that transit was vital then and is vital now.   The 150th Celebration will last for six months: http://ridemcts.com/news/index.asp?id=1430

On May 8, 2010, the 3rd Annual National Train Day will be a FREE coast-to-coast celebration.  In Milwaukee, celebrate with the first ever exhibit at the downtown station to include two model train layouts by The Milwaukee Lionel RR Club, information from Operation Lifesaver and travel agents, giveaways, and more.  Held from 10AM to 4PM at the Amtrak Milwaukee Inter-modal station, 433 West St. Paul Avenue.  Celebrations will also be held in Wisconsin in Columbus, LaCrosse and Sturtevant: http://www.nationaltrainday.com/events/other/

Why celebrate National Train Day?  Well, Amtrak has already carried over 13 million riders in the first 6 months of their fiscal year, with the busy season of summer travel yet to come.  That is about 100,000 more riders than the 13.5 million posted in FY 2008, which turned out to be Amtrak’s best ridership year in company history when America’s passenger railroad carried 28.7 million passengers.  Also, every single route is up in March.  One of C.A.T.’s “A-Team” members put that in perspective for us – this would make Amtrak the nation’s 8th largest domestic ‘airline,’ with nearly the passenger load of Continental (31,954,535) or Northwest (32,624,283).  See the stats at Amtrak News Releases: http://ow.ly/1EMeJ  (Scroll down to April 8, 2010: “Amtrak Ridership on Record-breaking pace”)

And from the research file…the Pew Research Trust released a study that shows highway users pay just 51% of their way, rail users pay better than 2/3s.  Highways, which span over four million miles in the United States, are increasingly paid for by ”non-user” fees—including sales, income and property taxes.  The report shows that in recent years, these revenues are funding a greater share of highway construction and maintenance projects, with a corresponding decrease in the percentage of user contributions—including gas taxes, vehicle registrations and tolls.  So for those that argue that roads are fully paid for through user fees and transit is more subsidy we don’t need, this is an interesting counterpoint.  http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=56233

Dear Friends and Supporters,

On April 22nd the Wisconsin State Legislature ended their legislative session for this year without acting on AB-282.  This bill would have enabled local communities throughout the State to form and fund Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) and dedicate local funding sources to support buses and other local transit systems. 

First of all, on behalf of the C.A.T. Steering Committee, WE THANK YOU for your participation, your calls, letters and emails, and most of all your visible support for resolving the crisis facing our local transit systems.  We would not have gotten this far without your collective efforts!

Also on our list to thank are key legislative champions who worked tirelessly over the past 2 months to move AB-282 forward and to advocate for its passage among their colleagues.  In particular, we would like to commend:

  • State Representatives Peter Barca, Tamara Grigsby, Chris Sinicki and Cory Mason
  • State Senators Lena Taylor and John Lehman
  • Assembly Transportation Committee Chair John Steinbrink and Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan
  • The many local elected officials throughout southeastern Wisconsin who displayed great leadership and public support for this legislation. 

It is clear that a significant number of constituents recognize the need to support efforts to save and invest in our local transit systems.

NEXT STEPS

Key members of our Coalition are now discussing possible options for where we go from here.  It is clear to everyone who has worked to support this legislation that the significant impacts of leaving this issue unresolved cannot be understated.  Right now, local communities are left to face funding shortfalls on their own, leaving them with no choice but to start significantly cutting service and raising fares in 2011.  Business growth will be stifled, people will lose access to jobs and education, and many others will be forced to make hard choices because they will no longer be able to get around independently.  The cost of inaction ensures there will be a wide array of economic consequences for this region.

What Can You Do?

  • Write a Letter to the Editor – let them know what you think about the outcome of this legislative session.  Instructions for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are below; a similar process is usually followed for other papers (Racine Journal Times, etc.)  Check their websites for details.
  • Write a letter, email or call your Legislators and ask them what their Plan B is.  What will they do to ensure that local communities have the tools they need to create a regional transit system and prevent significant cuts in service in 2011?  Find your legislators:    http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx or 1-800-362-9472
  • Write a letter, email or call the Legislative Champions we listed above and thank them for their support and efforts.  Encourage them to continue working with us to find a solution.

Stay tuned…we will be in touch with C.A.T. members over the next few weeks with an update of where we go from here.   As one of our Steering Committee members stated this morning, he feels “empowered in the faith that small bricks make big buildings.”  The “small bricks” in this Coalition give us all a lot of faith that we can do what’s right for transit in our community!

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit

Letter to the Editor Instructions for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“Timely, well-written, provocative opinions on topics of interest in Milwaukee and Wisconsin are given first preference.  All letters are subject to editing.  Letters selected for publication in the newspaper will also be posted on JSOnline.com.” 

GUIDELINES:

  1. Approximately 200 word limit.
  2. Include your name, street address and daytime phone.
  3. They do not acknowledge receipt of submissions.
  4. They don’t publish poetry, anonymous or open letters.
  5. Each writer is limited to one published letter every two months.

Write: Letters to the editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, P.O. Box 371, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0371 or Fax: (414)-223-5444 or E-mail: jsedit@journalsentinel.com.

We thank you all for your hard work, support and calls/contacts to legislators over the past year.  We know that we have reached out and asked a lot of you, especially in the last 6-8 weeks.  But consider tomorrow, Thursday April 22nd, transit’s very own “D-Day.”   

 The final vote on AB-282 has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 22nd along with reconsideration of amendment 2 requiring a binding referendum in Milw Co.   A senate vote for tomorrow must also be scheduled by Senate Leader Russ Decker.

The amendment for reconsideration mandates a binding referendum in Milwaukee County to allow a sales tax for transit and removal of transit costs from the property tax levy.  This amendment was passed even though a referendum in Nov. 2008 was already approved by Milwaukee County voters to do the very same thing.  Currently, the RTA bill’s language states that this suffices.

This added referendum takes us backward to move forward and wastes valuable time and money.  The people have spoken on this issue and Milwaukee’s crisis is urgent.  Let’s move forward and solve the transit crisis now.

Your Actions Are Needed Today and Tomorrow: THIS IS IT!
Our last opportunity…We need to give it everything!

  1. Call your Representative and Senator ASAP, this is CRUCIAL especially if you live in these districts:  Reps. Cullen, Staskunus, Krusick, Honadel, and Stone.  Senators Sullivan and Darling—all of whom plan to vote NO or are undecided.
  2. Call Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker and tell him you support AB-282 and want the Senate to schedule a vote.  877-496-0472 or Sen.Decker@legis.wisconsin.gov

CONTACTS:

Throughout yesterday’s debate in the Assembly on AB-282 a great deal of progress was made—and many attacks on transit were thwarted.  Our deep appreciation to our unflappable transit champions in the Assembly.  They pulled out all the stops yesterday:  Our thanks goes out to Reps Peter Barca, Tamara Grigsby, Chris Sinicki, Cory Mason, and others.  If you get a chance, send them an email or call and express your thanks.

See below for reasons why we need to act NOW to support AB-282.  This bill gives SE WI and all communities in Wisconsin the ability to vote locally to create RTAs and save our steeply declining local transit systems, create jobs and economic growth, and give people in SE WI much needed property tax relief.

We thank you again for your support and efforts – remember, now is our time to shine and show how important transit is to our local communities!

 AB-282 is about JOBS and economic development that we desperately need!

  • There are many trades people and entire neighborhoods that are at 50% unemployment!  How can we not pass this jobs bill?
  • Milwaukee will lose 1/3 of its bus service beginning in January 2011.  Racine and Kenosha are not far behind.
  • This is in addition to the 20% service cuts and 50% fare increases that have taken place over the past 7 years. 60,000 jobs will become inaccessible by transit if we continue down this path.
  • Dollars will stay in communities that they are raised in and local elected officials must vote to create the RTA’s and designate funding sources and amounts.  
  • This legislation enables local communities to form an RTA.  No community is forced to belong to an RTA.
  • If legislators oppose the RTA, ask them what their Plan B is for their constituents when their buses are cut and they can’t get to work or to school or the doctor’s office, and those whose jobs and economic development do not materialize.