Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Freeman Balks At Regional Transit Cooperation, Milwaukee Rail

I got severely criticized a couple of weeks ago when I suggested that Milwaukee opt out of the Southeastern Wisconsin Planning Commission, SEWRPC, being told that I was undermining regional cooperation.

I argued the commission didn't operate in Milwaukee's interest.

But now along comes The Freeman, Waukesha's daily paper, along with some area public officials, who want Waukesha County to stay out of a cooperative, regional body - - the Regional Transportation Authority, or RTA, which is working across the region to try and rationalize transit services.

The Freeman argues that the RTA isn't in Waukesha County's interest.


Hmmm...

The Freeman also got in a good kick at light rail because the paper sees it as only benefiting Milwaukee - - which, the last time I checked, is the biggest city in the most populous county in the region, let alone the whole darn state.

Will the editorial result in an uproar over disrespect for regionalism? Will there be concern about a lack of cooperation with the City of Milwaukee, or the counties in the RTA - - Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee County - - and its mutual mission?

No.

Here is The Freeman editorial and related material from the paper, which also praises Mark Belling and rips toll roads:

Waukesha County should stay out of regional transit authority

– Freeman editorial board

Waukesha Freeman
June 28, 2008

Regional leaders, including some from Waukesha County, were involved in several discussions this week to discuss regional transportation issues.

The Waukesha County Action Network held talks about funding transportation and regional leaders attended a summit in Milwaukee to discuss transportation and mass transit.

We’d like to address a few items that came up during the discussions:

First of all, while we are fine with regional partnerships and cooperation, we remain firmly against Waukesha County being part of a regional transit authority.

It doesn’t make sense and is not in the interest of Waukesha County residents is to establish a regional transit authority that has the power to raise your taxes and will have aims that mostly benefit Milwaukee.

***

In regard to mass transit, all efforts that affect Waukesha County should be based on automobiles and buses.

The idea of light rail should be derailed for good. It just isn’t practical.

The expense and inflexibility of such a system are deal breakers. Instead the focus should be on buses. We could potentially see a future where someone opts to go downtown Milwaukee via a hybrid doubledecker bus instead of a car.

But if that doesn’t happen and no one uses the buses, at least there won’t be all kinds of expensive light rail tracks going unused.
***

Here’s the best idea that came up during the discussions this week:

“Maybe we have to just leave Waukesha County out of the RTA now and once they see how well it works, hope they’ll be clamoring to get in.” – state Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale.

Don’t count on too much clamoring from out west, Jeff. But, yes, leave Waukesha County out of it.

***

Here’s the worst idea that came up this week, this one from another transportation panel:

Transportation experts said Wisconsin needs to implement toll roads because the state doesn’t have enough money for road repair and construction in the region. Just think, all those taxes you pay and there still isn’t enough to fix our roads.

By the way, is there really anything about Illinois that we want to emulate?

***

There’s a buzzword that was floating around the discussions this week: NEGATIVITY.

Leaders repeatedly referenced Mark Belling’s recent Freeman column critical of mass transit. But instead of taking his opinion into consideration, many of the leaders chalked it up to the NEGATIVE climate surrounding the regional transit issue.

This dismissive attitude from some of these leaders toward those who oppose a regional transit authority is arrogant and condescending.

The reason there is negativity toward a regional transit authority is because it is a bad idea that would cost taxpayers a lot of money. Of course, we realize we will now be labeled as part of the NEGATIVE alliance against light rail and high taxes. We can live with that.

***

There certainly can be some good that comes from all of these leaders getting together.

We call on Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson and Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas to continue the discussion but to stand up for Waukesha County’s best interests.

Those interests do not include getting roped into a regional transit authority.

Instead, let’s try a different approach.

Let’s find a way to get the most out of the connections being made with other regional leaders through these discussions. There is a need to think regionally. There’s no doubt about that.

But the best way to go is for the communities to find common ground as neighbors, not join together to create a new transit system.

4 comments:

Dave Reid said...

I actually think it might just be better to start off the RTA with just Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine as there is a better (although not much better) chance of actually getting something accomplished by going that route. And then later consider going west...

enoughalready said...

Or Milwaukeee, Ozaukee, and Washington counties. Word is Racine won't support even a small tax. I agree, leave Waukesha be. To read some of their citizens' childish ranting is to see just what an obstacle they are to progress and how uninformed -- and resistant to facts -- they are concerning transit and rail. Let them play in their own sandbox if they want to. Of course, the people of Waukesha might be consulted for their opinions, just to be sure that the ranting loudmouths are respresentative.

Joshua Skolnick said...

Note to the anti-rail idiots in Wisconsin and particularly Waukesha County: My wife and kids went yesterday to see the Plain White T's at Taste of Chicago instead of going to see them at Summerfest because you could ride a fast, comfortable Metra train from Harvard, IL for 5 bucks for everybody. No expensive parking, no 30 dollars for gas to get there, no fighting the traffic. We took our dollars and our tourism to Chicago instead of Milwaukee. Let the fools in Waukesha County eat lawn chemicals and suck car exhaust fumes, if any will be affordable when the oil runs out, as people like us take our business elsewhere.
The stupidity of these people is mind boggling. To use a cliche, they are cutting off their noses to spite their face.

TWW said...

Joshua Skolnick lost credibility when he wrote:



Note to the anti-rail idiots in Wisconsin and particularly Waukesha County: My wife and kids went yesterday to see the Plain White T's at Taste of Chicago instead of going to see them at Summerfest because you could ride a fast, comfortable Metra train from Harvard, IL for 5 bucks for everybody. No expensive parking, no 30 dollars for gas to get there, no fighting the traffic. We took our dollars and our tourism to Chicago instead of Milwaukee. Let the fools in Waukesha County eat lawn chemicals and suck car exhaust fumes, if any will be affordable when the oil runs out, as people like us take our business elsewhere.
The stupidity of these people is mind boggling. To use a cliche, they are cutting off their noses to spite their face.
"




The Metra website, http://www.metrarail.com/cgi/2006-farecheck.cgi, indicates that Joshua pay $8.05 each way per person to take the Metra from Harvard to downtown Chicago.


In whining, I wish people were factual. At least then they'd be credible.