Sunday, April 11, 2010
From local transit backers, there is this update and action alert:
We are gathering momentum to pass a RTA (Regional Transit Authority) that will reverse the downward spiral in bus service and develop a commuter rail that connects Chicago to the cities of Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee!
The Assembly Transportation Committee passed the RTA out of committee with an 8-2 vote on April 1, (thanks to the single Republican, Alvin Ott, who voted "yes" and made this a bipartisan issue).
But there are still several votes that need to be taken in the State Assembly and Senate in the next couple weeks in order to pass this legislation.
There are 2 critical things you can do
1) Attend a town hall meeting with Representatives Tony Staskunas and David Cullen on Monday, April 12 at 6:30 PM at the West Allis library, 7421 West National Avenue. (On bus route #18). They need to hear from transit supporters. Their votes are critical.
2) Call your own state senator and representative and ask them to support the RTA. To determine your state legislators using your address, go to http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov and click on "Who Represents Me?" or call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-362-9472. If you already know the names of your legislators, call them using the numbers listed in this email.
Do not assume that the RTA will pass without our active support. As you know, there is a small but very vocal group that promotes the mistaken idea that cars are all we need and transit is unfairly subsidized.
Why We Need a RTA with Dedicated Local Funding
Communities throughout the United States use RTA's to coordinate transit service and establish a dedicated local tax to fund transit. The fact that Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin do not have this dedicated funding has caused transit to deteriorate. In the last 8 years, service has been cut by 19% in Milwaukee County, 18% in the city of Racine and 11% in Kenosha.
Fares have risen 50% in Milwaukee and Racine and 25% in Kenosha. Over 40,000 jobs have become inaccessible by transit and 100,000 jobs could become inaccessible if this trend continues. Without a stable funding source, the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) predicts that service could be cut by another 30%!
This would be catastrophic to the thousands of riders who depend on transit to get to work, school and other destinations.
Without stable funding, southeast Wisconsin will also lose federal funds to develop a commuter rail connecting Chicago to the cities of Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee (the KRM). Commuter rail is an excellent tool to spur economic development and promote efficient land use patterns.
Milwaukee County voters have already passed a referendum for a 1/2 cent sales tax to provide property tax relief (take transit off the property tax) and increase transit funding, but the state needs to enact RTA legislation to allow the County Board to enact this tax.
The RTA legislation has broad support from business, labor and environmentalists. Our state legislators need to get on board. A downward spiral in public transit is simply unacceptable.
If you want to do more, also call Senate Majority Leader Senator Russ Decker at 608-266-2502 and ask him to bring the RTA legislation to the floor for a vote.