Mass transit is vital to southeastern Wisconsin’s economy

    As business and labor leaders, we stand together on the need for regional transit in southeastern Wisconsin. We must act now on legislation to preserve and expand regional transit.

    Good local bus service tied to a regional transportation network that utilizes commuter rail supports jobs and economic development. The current state of transit leaves our workforce underutilized and our businesses under-connected to the region’s talent base.

    Efficient transit operations provide a platform for business expansion, job growth and job creation. Unfortunately, it’s something our region falls short of.

    Just look around at the stiff competition we face for jobs and economic development from peer metropolitan areas that treat transit as critical infrastructure – just like roads or sewers. There is a diverse workforce utilizing transit not just because they have to but because they want to.

    When given the choice, the diverse talent pools we work to develop and attract often choose to live in communities that have invested in their transit infrastructure and have good transit options.

    This is not about partisan politics. It’s about creating basic infrastructure to get people to jobs, help businesses be efficient and competitive and put southeastern Wisconsin on the map in a very competitive global economy.

    We face a highly competitive future where it is clear that any business operator would hesitate to make a major investment in a new plant and then face difficulties in getting workers to the front door. If southeastern Wisconsin wants to attract new jobs or simply do better at connecting the current workforce with existing opportunities, our state leaders need to understand that without good transit, it’s hard to set the table.

    We must act decisively now on regional transit authority legislation to remove transit from the property tax while capping the tax levy – and give communities the ability to efficiently coordinate and invest properly in critical transportation infrastructure through a dedicated sales tax.

    Like this collaboration between labor and business, our region must collaborate with our many partners to secure a better future for our southeastern Wisconsin communities and build a smarter, better-connected place to do business, raise our families and enjoy life.

    The opportunity to adequately fund and develop our transportation infrastructure is necessary for both employers and the workforce they rely on to stay competitive. We urge the legislature to act now, or we all face a less certain future for jobs.


    This blog was co-written by Tim Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of Bucyrus International Inc., and Sheila Cochran, secretary-treasurer and chief operating officer of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

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