Monday, March 21, 2011

Walker's Anti-Transit Double-Talk Is No Laughing Matter

The Walker administration has moved its anti-transit stance to double-talk mode.

Consider:  The Walker budget proposes steep cuts in state aid to local bus systems and new restrictions on existing regional transit authorities - - bodies created to better operate and coordinate systems.

And legislation introduced by Walker loyalists would go further and wipe the regional transit authorities out.

So local transit systems are going to contract: Milwaukee County Transit is already acknowledging a probable fare increase, plus route reductions or cancellations including main lines to shuttles to van service for the disabled.

At the same time, the Walker administration is rolling out at meetings Tuesday and Wednesday evening a $1.7 billion Zoo Freeway Interchange widening and reconstruction plan - - with Mayfair Mall, the County Grounds, the Medical Complex, the County Research Park and proposed UW-M School of Engineering nearby or in its midst - - that has no transit upgrades.

(But does include filling wetlands, wildlife habitat and bike trails to construct acres of toxic detention ponds on and near the Milwaukee County Grounds.)

[The meetings are Tuesday 2-7 p.m., and Wednesday 4 p.m - 8 p.m.
Tommy Thompson Youth Center, 640 N. 84th St.,West Allis State Fair Park, Gate #5]

When asked to explain the plan's no-transit component, Mark Gottlieb, Walker's newly-appointed state transportation secretary and a former legislator who knows the ropes, said to the Journal Sentinel:
"'In general, transit is important, providing transit options is important," Gottlieb said. "What the studies have shown, under any scenario of transit, we're going to have congestion and additional capacity needs at various points in the system, either now or in the future.

"'I think the studies have shown that transit itself is not enough to eliminate the need for future capacity expansion to relieve congestion on the freeway."

"'The development of transit options, however, will fall to local governments and regional transportation authorities, he said."
This is like being told your health plan will not pay for your child's surgery at the new hospital up the road, but that a prescription will help - - and then finding a sign on the health plan's pharmacy that says "Closed."

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