Saturday, August 2, 2008

23% Of Milwaukee City Adults Live In Households Without Vehicles

While some commentators reassure themselves that jobs in the suburbs are easily accessed by workers with cars, the data tell a different story:

In the City of Milwaukee, nearly one-quarter of all adults - - 87,300 people, or 23% - - live in households without a car or truck.

And that number includes 60% of all African-Americans adults in Wisconsin who live in households without a car or truck, according to the same UW-Milwaukee study by researcher John Pawarasat. (See pps. 15-16)

Minimizing the physical disconnections between Milwaukeans and suburban jobs, one writer says "the great majority of people in Milwaukee County ignore readily available bus service and drive anyhow because, presumably, they prefer to."

The context was the absence of a direct bus line from the City of Milwaukee to New Berlin's Industrial Park - - a growing area to which the City of Milwaukee has agreed to sell Lake Michigan water.

The complete picture is a little more complicated - - the term "great majority" still hides more than 87,000 adults without access to a vehicle - - when you look behind the Milwaukee County numbers to just data from the City of Milwaukee - - where the greatest number of unemployed and low-income workers live in the region, and statewide.

So if you land-lock Milwaukee with prohibitions against annexations, as the legislature did in 1955, and you limit, then cut, transit service to suburbs where there is job growth (disregarding altogether light rail service), you effectively segregate those 87,300 Milwaukee residents from job opportunities that are less and less serviced by transit.

Not to mention housing options, affordable and otherwise near those jobs.

Yet billions of dollars in highway expansion continue to be spent freely, routinely, servicing people with cars.

Since the money to build, maintain, patrol and even plow highways comes from public sources, it looks to me like we've got here a simple case of equal justice, access to public resources, access to a livelihood and due process - - denied for a quarter of Milwaukee's residents.

Presumably, a situation those without cars do not prefer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Every person using mass transit benefits everybody.

It's time to stop treating mass transit users as second class citizens.