Friday, November 23, 2007

RTA's funding delay and "life support" for county transit

It seems almost certain that the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority will delay its pursuit of Federal Transit Administration funding for a Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail extension.

The delay will be at least a year, maybe two.

RTA members made it clear this week that they also will pay more attention to finding a solution to the mass transit funding crisis in Milwaukee County and the region as a whole.

Milwaukee County Public Works Director George Torres said the Milwaukee County Transit System needs help immediately.

“We are on life support right now and we have to find a solution sooner rather than later," he said. “Two years out might be too late."

Two years out -- that's about the time the Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants to start its $1.9 billion freeway reconstruction project that won't solve congestion problems, but may, on the very optimistic side, save drivers a minute or two in drive time, during rush hour, in the year 2035.

RTA consultant Barbara Ulichny told the committee that the people deciding where Miller Brewing headquarters should be – Milwaukee or Denver – took a good look at mass transit.

“From what I’ve heard, there’s not really a comparison as to the availability of different types,” she said.

What a concept: business leaders want a balanced transportation system. Too bad WisDOT doesn’t – it looks like the agency’s stubborn refusal to move out of the 1960s may well help lose this city a major corporate headquarters.

Transit can't wait two years.

No comments: