When Southridge Mall recently announced it would move Milwaukee County Transit System buses from the mall’s parking lot and move bus stops farther from the mall entrances, it was just another domino to fall in the process of making it more difficult for seniors and the disabled to ride and shop safely.
Earlier this year, Developers Diversified Realty tossed MCTS buses off of their parking lots and into the street
at shopping centers in Brookfield, West Allis and Brown Deer. Now, Southridge’s property manager, Simon Property Group, of Indianapolis, said it will remove bus stops from mall entrances and onto Edgerton Avenue on November 1.
In addition, the move by Simon would stop bus layovers on mall property. Layovers give riders more time to get the bus, and ending the layovers will force riders to time their arrival to the new bus stop and possibly miss the bus.
What’s going on here? Why are malls suddenly kicking seniors and the disabled to the curb?
It makes me wonder who else they are trying to keep away. Obviously, people with lower incomes may not be able to afford a car and need the bus to get them around. Is Southridge trying to keep them away too? What about the mall’s workers? How will they get to their jobs?
Re-routing those buses away from these commercial strips and malls is not only a big inconvenience for all riders, it represents a severe disadvantage for elderly and disabled riders. Those with limited mobility will now be forced to travel further to get to their destinations.
Moving bus routes by even two-tenths of a mile may not seem like much to an able-bodied person, but to a disabled or elderly person it represents a significant handicap. Meanwhile, mall employees will be forced to walk farther to the mall entrance. That’s fine on a nice summer day, but what about winter? What about driving rain storms? And what about the danger of walking through busy and icy parking lots?
This isn’t good for seniors, it isn’t good for the disabled, and it isn’t good for economic development.
Most commercial property owners realize that having a bus route leading to their establishment is a significant advantage for their business. I applaud them for knowing that transit is a key to a healthy economy, and all customers should have access to their establishments.
I will work to prevent this move, and I encourage Southridge management to reconsider their decision.
Supervisor Michael Mayo Sr. is chairman of the Milwaukee County Board’s Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee.