Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Commuter Bus Ridership Up in Milwaukee, But After Years of Service Cuts It Won’t Be Able to Handle Increase

Published by Daniel Cody “Left on the Lake”

Data from the first three months of the year shows that Milwaukee commuter buses are seeing an increase in ridership that matches the national trend, which is something I’ve been predicting would happen for months now.

But there’s a problem with the increase in ridership here in Southeastern Wisconsin: after years of service cuts (and fare increases), transit officials now say they cannot handle a big increase in the number of riders.

Why? Because of poor long term planning and service cuts which have crippled the system and made it into a shell of it’s former self. When you completely drop nearly 20 routes, raise fares, and cut back on other routes throughout the system with a purposeful and deliberate goal of drowning what was at one time the best transit operation in the Country, this is what happens.

You have more demand for a service, but a deliberate willingness to not increase supply, and commuters in and around Milwaukee now are paying the price.

The kicker is that even at this late hour, with gas prices over $4.00/gallon, Southeastern Wisconsin still has no action plan in any regard to handle the desire of it’s residents to utilize more mass transit options:

As more drivers in the Milwaukee area convert to riding commuter buses from designated lots in Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties, those buses are becoming more crowded. But after years of slashing service, beleaguered public transit systems can’t gear up quickly to handle a major influx of new riders, transit officials say.JSonline.com

Those opposed to mass transit in Wisconsin, led by County Exec. Walker, have successfully blocked any real progress on mass transit for the better part of a decade now. As residents actually start to feel the repercussions of that policy, more and more will start to ask the very valid question of, “Why are we the only metro area in the Country moving backwards on transit?”.

That’s something Walker and his supporters should have to answer for.


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