Attorney Dennis McBride writes in MJS today. I will try to dissect this best I can.
The Milwaukee County Transit System, which carries 150,000 people a day, keeps cutting service because it is starved of funds, while Milwaukee forgoes a partnership with Chicago, the Midwest's largest generator of jobs.
McBride has it backwards here. It is starved for funds and keeps cutting service because nobody rides it. If the busses ran even somewhere near full, I think I'd be OK with expanding. But they don't. Add the crime and violence that lives in the transit system and more people will find another way around. Does McBride take the bus and walk several blocks to his destination? Or does he take his BMW/Mercedes/Lexus, etc. to his reserved parking spot? What partnership with Chicago? And how does an RTA fit into that? AMTRAK runs to Chicago....again, less than full. Is he expeccting busses to run there? Or is this a KRM reference?
McBride references Wauwatosa and the numbers of people working there. Again, how many take transit and how many are willing to walk several blocks in the cold/rain/snow after getting off the bus. Of COURSE a bus from a commuter college to the suburbs will be full. In addition to the students, the bus passes through the inner city allowing people there to reach shopping at Mayfair. I guarantee you, these people riding Route 10 are not the well-to-do East Side Lefties who want this to happen.
To ensure a solid economic future, metro Milwaukee needs a Regional Transit Authority to lock in real property tax relief, restore the local bus system and obtain federal funds to build the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line and connect with Chicago's Metra system. Even people who may never ride transit have an interest in the economic development that transit investments would create.
In what way will a subsidized RTA "lock in real property tax relief"? Seems to me that, since the current system is already requiring huge subsidies from the taxpayers, a larger system would require more. Or has McBride not figured that one out. Further, there ARE no "federal funds". It's taxpayer money. Isn't the life already being sucked out of us?
Metro Milwaukee has been losing jobs continuously since 1980 while some other northern tier cities have experienced growth. Cities like Minneapolis, which has left Milwaukee far behind economically, have invested in mass transit and proved its benefits and continue to expand their systems knowing that balanced transportation encourages higher-value taxable development.
Metro Milwaukee is losing jobs because Milwaukee is hostile to business. The tax and regulatory structure in the city and state has made it nearly impossible for small business to make it. It has ZERO to do with mass transit. In fact, I challenge McBride to name one major employer who left Milwaukee citing poor mass transit as a major factor. Cities like Minneapolis were business friendly long before they invested in mass transit.
An RTA is a terrible idea for an area that has no plan for growing the economy, no plan to become business-friendly and no plan for regulatory reform.