Thursday, August 25, 2011

Right-Wing Anti-Rail Politics Could Again Cost Wisconsin Transit Money, Services

Bad enough that Scott Walker turned back $800 million that could have added modern Amtrak service between Madison and Milwaukee and put these cities on the planned Midwest High-Speed Rail system.

His ideologically-driven, talk radio-inspired assaults on rail service also cost Wisconsin thousands of construction jobs, rail corridor development and permanent operating, maintenance and assembly jobs, too.

But the right in the Legislature also wiped out another rail initiative, the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter line, taking down as well the transit authority that was to manage it, and related services, too.

Lost, as well - - years of organizing by regional business groups and transit advocates, an unusual and refreshing coalition that has been subbed and marginalized. 

And, again, there are financial consequences, as Larry Sandler at the Journal Sentinel reports, meaning that federal funds could be lost to the state and region, further setting back cash-strapped bus lines, too.

Walker and his legislative allies use transit and rail as convenient political targets. Their anti-transit, one-note agenda keep the highway lobby happy and the conservative talkers at bay, but communities and states with poor transit fall further down the lists of desirable places in which to open a business, move a family or take a vacation.

Wisconsin can ill afford to keep losing funding to other states with active transit planning that are more free of destructive ideology.


Paul Trotter said...

"Lost, as well - - years of organizing by regional business groups and transit advocates, an unusual and refreshing coalition that has been subbed and marginalized."

Did the businesses speak out about this? It would be nice to know what businesses were involved and their extent of lobbying efforts. Perhaps these businesses didn't pony up during Walker's election?

Paul Trotter said...

James Rowen said...
The transit authority had outspoken business leadership. Even local business groups here in MKE were for it. But in the end, Robin Vos and others in the legislature are driven by talk radio and talk radio fiscal hawks, not old-timey Chamber of Commerce thinking.

Anonymous said...

The process which Wisconsin uses to plan for future transportation needs allows business, the public and all interested parties a chance for input at several stages.

This process takes decades - if you want a train between cities in 2031, start planning now.

Walker has thrown away decades of planning and study under Governors of both parties and citizens and businesses of all stripes. This was OUR planning process he shot down, not Obama's, not Doyle's. Why did he do it? Just for political gain; his own.

Paul Trotter said...

Thanks Anonymous- even more disappointing to hear more about the extensive planning. Alas- Vos rubbed it in when the commuter train was killed. Their vision is so shortsighted. 31 seems very far away. Many of us will never see a modern integrated transportation.