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Abele budget keeps transit intact, County Board Approves Plan
Updated Nov. 10, 2011
The Milwaukee County Board voted to approve County Executive Abele's plan to use federal CMAQ funds for new express routes and shift some underlying service to the express routes. The plan will allow County to avoid transit deep service cuts by shifting some service from the local routes that underlay the new express routes. These three exisiting routes are the busiest lines in the County.
Although some local services on the three routes will be restructured and reduced, this creative solution is far better than the original proposal to eliminate scores of routes and restructure and reduce service on most others.The CMAQ funds provide a short two year solution to keep buses running in Milwaukee County.Transit was slated for deep cuts in large part due in part to a reduction in state transit aids.
DOT Secratary Gotlieb and local municiaplities in SE Wisconsin gave their approval for the distribution of a total of $19.1 million in CMAQ funds to Milwaukee County to institute the new express routes for two years. The funds come from two pots of CMAQ funding: $12.7 million from the shelved KRM commuter rail project, and $6.4 million from a stalled Bus Rapid Transit project that the former County Executive Walker was planning. (The KRM project was cut short when the legislature voted in the 2011-13 State budget to eliminate all regional transit authories in Wisconsin.)
Milwaukee County to get $19.1 million for express bus routes, DOT says, October 27, 2011 | Journal Sentinel
Introducing the Bayshore – Airport Express Bus Service, October 27th, 2011 | Urban Milwaukee
See maps of new express routes and changes to underlying service, and other budget details
Updated Oct. 29, 2011: see more about Abele budget proposal and news
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele listened to the concerns of hundreds of citizens and business leaders and responded by finding a solution to keep most of the bus and paratransit services intact, while adding new express services to key destinations.
Jobs and the economy were major concerns for Abele, "This is one of the services the county provides that is crucial" to the local economy, Abele said, not just for workers to reach jobs but also for students to reach schools and for shoppers to reach stores. A UWM report released in September found that 13,500 jobs and 1000 employers would become inaccessible to transit riders under the earlier proposal to slash transit services.
Abele’s proposal to fill the $15 million shortfall in the 2012 transit budget relies mainly on using a portion of the one-time federal funds once set aside to build KRM Commuter Rail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines. Abele’s plan calls for converting parts of the County’s four longest and busiest existing bus routes to express buses, reducing some underlying service while greatly enhancing connections to Mitchell International Airport, UWM, and many other highly visited desinations on the routes. The federal funds for KRM are being redistributed to SE Wisconsin transit after the SERTA, KRM project’s sponsoring agency, was recently disbanded by the state legislature.
Abele’s plan also wisely calls for preserving county-wide paratransit service, by combining $1.45 million in new state paratransit dollars, additional levy support, and a substantial increased Paratransit fares to $4.25 per one-way trip. The 38% fare increase is expected to be a significant challenge for many paratransit riders, who are predominantly low and middle income.
Transit NOW applauded the County Executive’s approach but warned that this is a short-term Band-Aid that provides a 2-year window to get a long-term solution in place. Elected leaders must continue to work toward permanent and adequate dedicated funding source.
Milwaukee County recommended to receive bus grants, October 21 | The Business Journal
Abele plan taps federal funds to save bus lines, Sept. 27, 2011| Journal Sentinel
Transit needed for jobs, Sept. 27, 2011| Journal Sentinel
A new analysis details how cutting transit limits access to jobs. State and local leaders need to start looking at transit as vital to jobs and find a separate source of funding.
See more here about Milwaukee County 2012 Transit Budget
Here is a breakdown of County Executive Abele's 2012 Transit Budget
Proposed service and fare changes
• Maintains most transit services at current levels providing state and federal funds are realized as budgeted
• Maintains county-wide paratransit service
• Paratransit fare increases $1.25 to $4.5 per one-way trip
• Express service on routes 15, 23, and 62 will overlay existing routes. The existing routes will have some service reductions
• State operating assistance reduction: -$6.8 million (Section 85.20)
• Local levy: $18.7 million (+$1.15 million additional over 2011)
• State Paratransit funding: additional +$1.45 million (Section 85.205)
• Estimated CMAQ funding of +$7.7 million for 2012, which has not been approved at this time.
• Assumes elimination of Title XIX reimbursement