Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Waukesha Officials To Cut Transit Links, Again - - And Undercut Water Plan, Again

Cutting transit to Milwaukee, again, are we?

Including service from downtown Waukesha to Milwaukee, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Waukesha County plans to reduce commuter service between Waukesha and downtown Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee beginning Jan. 2...
Route 901, which operates from downtown Waukesha to Milwaukee, including UWM, currently offers 21 trips weekdays....Proposed cutbacks would reduce the service to peak travel hours, with eight trips...weekdays.
Route 905 operates from various park-and-ride lots along I-94 between Oconomowoc and Milwaukee. Service is currently during morning and afternoon rush hours weekdays, and that service will be cut from the current six trips to five trips during the morning rush hour.
There has been a cut-and-cut again transit service pattern coming out of Waukesha, city and county - - for years - - and years - - yet public and private sector officials there still believe that Milwaukee should sell the City of Waukesha all the water it wants to boost the suburban economy, while pretending that these matters are not coupled.

Waukesha is already getting from the state a fast-tracked Zoo Interchange reconstruction plan, with the connecting Story Hill I-94 segment in Milwaukee also at the top of state highway planners' timetables - - thus continuing the spending imbalance favoring road-building and suburban growth while transit connections to Milwaukee are starved.

Do state and Waukesha officials not see that these literal disconnects are profoundly anti-Milwaukee while favoring the suburbs, and that this blundering insensitivity and outright discriminatory behavior is bound to boomerang when it comes to getting the Lake Michigan water diversion that the City of Waukesha and its allies in the region want Milwaukee to provide, as the preferred seller?

Why would Milwaukee enhance the economy in an area that is continuing to deny access to transit, and thus housing and job opportunities, to Milwaukee residents?

This is not a new question.

And Milwaukee officials have spelled their out policy and communicated it openly and unambiguously more than once to make it clear that water sales are dependent on transit, jobs, housing and a broader view of regional cooperation that incorporates the needs of Milwaukee's residents.

To wit, the entire language, terms and conditions of the city's official water-selling policy as it effects the City of Waukesha.

And pay attention to Section D-3 in the governing, unanimously-approved Milwaukee Common Council resolution #080457, "Water Sales:"
D. Reporting requirements for the community which has applied for water service

In addition, for purposes of Common Council review, the community which has applied for water service from the City of Milwaukee shall submit a written report to the aforementioned communication file indicating that the community has adopted and implemented:
D-1. A comprehensive plan pursuant to s. 66.1001, Wis. Stats., and, if the plan has not been completed, indicate the status of the community’s compliance with each of the 9 requirements which comprise s. 66.1001 (2), Wis. Stats.
D-2. A comprehensive housing plan and can demonstrate that such plan has resulted in the creation of affordable housing opportunities that have resulted in racial, age and income diversification, with data on the percentage of population in assisted and affordable housing that is age 30 or less, above age 30 and below 65, and age 65 and above.
D-3. A comprehensive public transportation plan and can demonstrate that such plan has resulted in the expansion and improvement of public transportation links between persons living in the City of Milwaukee and job opportunities in the community which has applied for water service. Such plan may include, but is not limited to, participation and inclusion in the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Transportation Authority or an equivalent entity. [my note, see this.]
What part of "...has adopted and implemented...a comprehensive public transportation plan...has resulted in the expansion and improvement of public transportation links between persons living in the City of Milwaukee and job opportunities in the community which has applied for water service..." do officials out Waukesha way not comprehend?

Let me simplify it.

What part of the meaning and import of "has adopted and implemented...public transportation plan...expansion and improvement" escapes Waukesha officials?

Or leads them to believe that those words and actions are synonymous with "repeatedly cut public transportation...expansion and improvement," as their behaviors show?


Paul Furrer said...

James, As you know the City of Waukesha runs the bus service for the County of Waukesha under a contract. If the County reduces its contract, ostensibly because the State cut the County's funding, then that's it. But are you suggesting with this cut Milwaukee, by rule, can't sell its water to the City of Waukesha? And consequently the Great Lakes' Governors won't support Waukesha's Application without Milwaukee's blessing, forgetting Racine and Oak Creek?
Me, I reject the idea that the City of Waukesha has to pay for the County's bus service. I reject Mayor Scrima's idea too that Milwaukee will gain control of Waukesha's housing and transportation policies just by negotiating with them for water. I still can't understand how New Berlin passed muster with Milwaukee's ordinances and Waukesha can't. Maybe I need to ask what would it cost the City of Waukesha to join the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Transportation Authority?

Paul Trotter said...

And why are there more cuts to transit? WALKER!

Giving Waukesha clean randon free water is analogous to provinding Milwaukee County taxpayer funding for unlimited commercial and housing development in Waukesha without any return on investment.

James Rowen said...


My point is that officials in Waukesha, both City and County, seem to be ignoring the stated position and goals of the City of Milwaukee.

Waukesha County does the City of Waukesha no favor by proposing or implementing this transit cut.

SERTA,the SE transit authority,has been dissolved because the Legislature eliminated it - - not Waukesha's fault, but its state legislators all supported it - - again disregarding the impact on and relationship to the water issue and other regional cooperation realities.

My point is that the water issue, or the transit issue, or the housing issue does not exist in a vacuum.

Under some arrangement - - city and county or private-public - - Waukesha may indeed need to underwrite - - to improve and expand - - some transit services to facilitate a water agreement with Milwaukee, and that would also be a boon to Waukesha, city and county travelers, too.

The politics of this piece of the puzzle may push the water sale agreement to Racine or Oak Creek - - more expensive because of the distance and infrastructure upgrades those cities may have to undertake.

Who foots that bill? Is it more desirable and financially justifiable than bus lines between Milwaukee and Waukesha?

James Rowen said...

I meant @Paul Furrer.

Paul Trotter is right that Walker cut transit.

The legislature restored some funding, but hardly enough, then went and separately wiped out and barred further regional transit authorities, which was really aimed at the KRM commuter train planning.

Bottom line: good news for the road-builders. Bad news for people who do not, or choose not, to drive - - students, oldsters, motorists watching their budgets, cleaner air, balanced transportation, etc.

Paul Furrer said...

Thanks for the good info on the defunct Southeast Wisconsin Regional Transportation Authority. I don't know what to tell you except the City Waukesha is very unlikely to use any taxpayer money to get or keep any water source. All costs will be born by the Utility's ratepayers or not at all.

Freight Brokerage said...

Continuing to cut service only continues to hurt economic development. But the current funding system - on the backs of property taxpayers - is not sustainable.

Max B said...

Reply to Paul Furrer:

It feels to the rest of the southeast Wis region, esp Milwaukee, that the City of Waukesha wants access to Milwaukee's (water) resources without paying much for it and without shouldering part of the urban burdens that the City of Milwaukee bears alone.

As a long time observer of Waukesha, I have seen over and over how the City operates in its own little world and ignores the rest of the region, the state and the world. It seems to have the attitude of "We want, we need water so give it to us cheap and do it now!" In all fairness, not every citizen or alderman or Mayor thinks that way, (and obviously not you) but it is part of an overall pattern of behavior. People tend remember that kind of thing and respond to demands for help with "Well, to heck with you!"

If other regional communities would see some cooperative effort from the City --OR the County, and ideally, both--on issues such as transportation and housing that demonstrate that the City thinks it's part of the team, then the attitude might be different. But the City and County keep taking actions such as the recent transportation funding cuts that signal to everyone that Waukesha still intends to play by its own rules, regardless of anyone else.

It continues to amaze observers that the City, the County, the Water Utility and Mayors past and present embarked upon such a huge undertaking (attempting to obtain water from Lake Michigan) without thinking through how their actions might be perceived not only by the region, but by other bodies that have a say in whether they get the water or not. Instead of the cooperative approach, they took the bullying approach and tried to strong-arm their way through the process. Instead of negotiating, they tried to cheat by a back-door "application request" to Gov Doyle and sneaking language into the Compact itself or into the 227 legislation that would allow Waukesha to get Great Lakes water on a legal technicality.

Instead of collaborating, they've resisted or ignored attempts of others to work with them. Instead of openness and transparency, they've held numerous closed door meetings and resisted or delayed turning what is public information over to the public.

And lately, several aldermen have aimed to limit even further the public comment at the Common Council meetings by manipulating its already-rigid rules. All the better to ignore you [the public] with?
And then the Waukesha-centric council complains that they're being mistreated and no one likes them. Well, after all of the poor sportsmanship on Waukesha's part, who really trusts them now?

James Rowen said...

So far, these comments have the makings of a decent dialogue. Thank you.