County needs to take action now on mass transit crisis

    This week’s report from the Public Policy Forum confirms what I and other Milwaukee County Board members have known for some time: route cutbacks and fare increases are causing major damage to mass transit in Milwaukee County.

    I am glad that Public Policy Forum president Rob Henken is leading a team of professionals in providing detailed and thorough reports on issues of importance to the community, continuing the exemplary work he performed as research director for the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

    Preserving an extensive mass transit system is one of my top priorities as chairman of the board. Transit is not just a human services issue. It is also a main ingredient in building our economic infrastructure. Because of limited federal and state support for mass transit, I am going to arrange to meet with key members of the business community to assist the county in developing progressive ways to overcome these funding challenges.

    There is no question that we must alter the path our transit system is on. Using property tax dollars to fund the local portion of mass transit funding is archaic. The time for change is now. All options are on the table as we consider ways to modernize transit funding and improve the service provided to people from all walks of life.

    A resolution passed by the county board last year affirms Milwaukee County’s top transit priority is identifying a non-property tax dedicated funding alternative for the ongoing operation of the existing rubber tire bus service.

    A dedicated source of funding means reducing the burden on property taxpayers permanently. The stabilization of the mass transit system in Milwaukee County is dependent upon it being removed from the property tax.

    The Milwaukee County Transit System provides an extensive route network that is easily accessible to nearly all county residents. It is imperative that we fulfill the needs of low-income and minority residents in our community. We must not leave the riders and employers who depend on this service behind.

    Lee Holloway is chairman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. To view the Milwaukee Public Policy Forum’s new analysis, "Milwaukee County’s Transit Crisis: How Did We Get Here And What Do We Do Now?" click here.

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