Friday, December 21, 2007

Dropping A Workers' Bus Route Is Fail-Fail-Fail: No Transit - - No Water, Period.

Milwaukee County Public Works boss George Torres tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the inability of Waukesha and Milwaukee Counties to figure out how to share the $100,000 annual cost of a bus line that gets workers to jobs in Waukesha County is "lose-lose."

With the counties dropping the ball and killing Route 9, "fail-fail" is closer to the truth.

And since employers along the route apparently declined to kick in with an assist to the very workers coming into their plants, it's really fail-fail...and-fail.

These employers and inept county officials on both sides of the county line have proven that when it comes to actually doing something about jobs for the region- - and in this case, something relatively inexpensive - - the nicely-paid public officials and their counterparts in the private sector showed their true colors.

Miwaukee County, Waukesha County, major employers: the We Don't-Give-A-Damn Trifecta.

Especially about working people - - everyday men and women who are nowhere near the top of the hourly-wage scale, and who are blocked from living closer to Waukesha County and suburban jobs by clever zoning, big-lot expensive housing and a willful shortage of affordable apartments in Waukesha County.

Here's how one leading Waukesha County official put it to the Journal Sentinel:

'Waukesha County Public Works Director Richard Bolte said he also did not sense any strong sentiment for maintaining the service when County Board members debated and approved the 2008 budget with no money for Route No. 9.

'The route's low ridership makes it a logical candidate for elimination, Bolte said.

"I didn't push the route real hard," he said, "because I didn't think it was worth saving."

Of course, public officials in both counties want the next $1.9 billion portion of the $6.5 billion (that's before interest costs are added in, and originally calculated using 2003 dollars, too) regional freeway plan locked down, guaranteed, since highway upgrades and tax dollars for expansions are treated as the counties and business interests' entitlements.

When it comes to more highways, the debate is not about whether. It's about how soon can we get them.

Note that Waukesha County, for whom the afore-mentioned Richard Bolte works, and directs its transportation planning, managed to find $1.75 million in unexpended funds for its pledged share of the quickie-planned $25 million 'interchange to nowhere' to serve an upscale mall at Pabst Farms.

Bolte was among the Waukesha County officials touting the mall to the Journal Sentinel as the interchange funding package got put together in a bureaucratic nano-second.

Big bucks for shoppers in Western Waukesha County, thanks to the good folks out their running the government, but nothing in the cookie jar for a bus line for working people.

This is what passes for balanced publicly-funded transportation policy and spending in southeastern Wisconsin: billions for highways, millions for drivers and shoppers in upper-income, predominantly white suburbs- - and zero for transit for working people.

Hell, let 'em walk. Maybe they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps at the same time.

If this isn't discrimination against lower-income taxpayers (and I'm betting a disproportionately minority population, too) then you tell me what it is.

And remind me again why Milwaukee should make itself subservient to some perverse definition of regional cooperation and cross-border neighborliness and divert one droplet of Lake Michigan water across Sunny Slope Rd.

I hope Milwaukee officials don't lift a finger to help a hostile, walled-off, nest of discrimination in Waukesha County, because diversions of Lake Michigan water would only reinforce transportation and housing patters to keep outsiders of modest means at a distance.


If Route 9 is ended - - and this all began when Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas pulled the plug on the bus service in his 2008 budget - - then those water diversion plans should get Route Nined, too.

End of the line.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The real reason Scott Walker looked to Waukesha to get a Regional Transportation Authority is because he could depend on Waukesha to blow up any rational transit plan.

We are drunk on automobile dependency and it will not stop until we have paved over the whole region and spent every last dollar we collectively own on the last available drops of oil that we can burn.

Warning: heavy sarcasm follows.

We demand the right to drive past the problems of Milwaukee County on an eight lane superhighway, even if we need to pave over those dead soldiers at the VA grounds.

After all, global warming is just a religion invented by consumer hating liberals. The earth's resources are infinite, or at least will last as long as I'm here.

God gave us the earth to trash any way we want. We don't care about posterity, because we are going in the rapture, just as soon as we get Christ to come down here by starting Armageddon in the middle east.