Easy, Reliable & Affordable
UPDATE: The proposed KRM Commuter Rail project has been put on hold indefinitely due to the dissolution of the Southeast Regional Transit Authority, the sponsor of the project. See more
Click here to see key reports, fact sheets, links, and study summary
- On June 29, 2009 the state budget was signed, creating the Southeast Regional Transit Authority (SERTA) to manage and fund the local share of KRM Commuter Rail.
- Governor Doyle championed the legislative initiative to give
SE Wisconsin and 2 other areas the ability to form a permanent Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and invest in strengthening our local transit infrastructure and our economy.
- The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority voted 6-1 to support jobs and economic growth by recommending up to a 0.5% sales tax to provide an adequate, stable funding source for local transit systems, and regional transit connections including KRM Commuter Rail, and removing existing transit costs from the property tax, providing much needed property tax relief.
- SE Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority (RTA): leads the way to funding consensus and a unified regional voice (5/08)
- KRM gains $6 million in capital funding. RTA continues work to identify local funding source. (5/16/08)
- Public Policy Forum releases Milwaukee County Transit financial crisis report and options (5/08)
- Legislative bill proposed to form RTAs statewide (1/15/08)
- KRM forges ahead after budget setback. (10/25/07)
(see more below)
SERTA Created in State Budget to Manage and Fund KRM
On June 29, 2009 the state budget was signed, creating the Southeast Regional Transit Authority (SERTA) to manage KRM Commuter Rail and fund the local share of the costs.KRM can now advance while a dedicated funding source for buses in tha region is resolved. Although Governor Doyle approved the creation of the three-county Southeast Regional transit Authority (SERTA) that will be responsible for managing and funding the local share of KRM Commuter Rail, he stated in his veto memo that he was vetoing the Milwaukee Transit Authority and funding for Racine and Kenosha buses (through SERTA) because they "do not provide a framework for regional cooperation on providing transit services. Regional cooperation in the southeast regional is vital for the continued prosperity of Southeastern Wisconsin." We applaud the legislators that worked with remarkable determination to advance to the transit package that was delivered to the Governor. And now we encourage them to act quickly and collaborate regionally to build on their hard-won accomplishments and create a regional transit structure and funding source to support our economic growth and job connections. See more about the creation of SERTA and the Governor's vetoes.
Gov. Doyle Moves Transit to the Forefront to Build a Stronger Economy and Connect People to Jobs
On Tuesday February 17, Governor Doyle championed the legislative initiative to give SE Wisconsin the ability to form a permanent Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and invest in strengthening our local transit infrastructure and our economy.
In his budget speech Governor Doyle laid out his plan for economic recovery: "As we prepare our businesses to succeed, we can give cities and counties the ability to plan better transportation systems – better ways to get people to work. If a region agrees to cooperate on building rail lines or coordinating bus service, we can help make that happen. This budget allows Wisconsin communities to form Regional Transportation Authorities, which will be important tools in driving economic development and adding jobs."
SE Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority (RTA) votes to support jobs and economy by investing in transit
On November 10, 2008 after over two years of discussion and study, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority voted 6-1 to support jobs, economic growth, and preperty tax relief by recommending up to a 0.5% sales tax to provide an adequate, stable funding source for local transit systems, and regional transit connections including KRM Commuter Rail, and removing existing transit costs from the property tax, providing much needed property tax relief.
The recommendation has been delivered to the governor and legislature for needed action on these crucial transportation advancements for SE Wisconsin, which are the foundation for building a vibrant regional transit network that is central to a strong economy and healthy environment in the 21st Century.
We need a stable, dedicated funding source to provide enhance local and regional transit service, stabilize existing bus systems, and to receive needed federal infrastructure dollars. A sensible funding source has been recommended; it now needs approval from the state Legislature.
If we fail to come together and act, the RTA will dissolve in 2009, we risk losing KRM, and local transit systems will continue their decline, hurting employers and workers alike.
SE Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority (RTA): leading the way to funding consensus and a unified regional voice
The SE Wisconsin RTA is mandated by the legislature to deliver a funding and governance recommendation for KRM and local transit systems to the Governor and Legislature by November 2008 (or decide to discontinue the RTA altogether). The RTA is expecting to release a draft plan in late June that will provide the framework for building regional consensus on transit funding. The RTA unanimously agreed to develop a comprehensive funding source for both KRM and local bus systems in the KRM corridor as a means to best meet the region's transportation needs and economic opportunities.
KRM gains $6 million in capital funding.
RTA continues work to identify local funding source.
KRM received $6 million for capital expenditures through Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. This effort was initiated by the Governor and the WI Department of Transportation. The funds require a 20% local match and can be used when the KRM project gains a local funding source and moves into preliminary engineering. The Regional Transit Authority stated,
"The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) allocation for the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and KRM Commuter Rail project, demonstrates ongoing support for the KRM commuter rail at the federal, state and local levels. These funds will be critical in completing the preliminary engineering and infrastructure necessary to operate the commuter rail. The RTA appreciates the recognition of the need for the KRM Commuter Rail, and continues to work diligently to identify a dedicated, local funding source for the project."
Public Policy Forum releases Milwaukee County Transit financial crisis report and options
The Public Policy Forum released a study report on the looming financial crisis for Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). The report reiterated the Regional Planning Commission's findings that Milwaukee County Transit System is facing a severe financial crisis that will result in transit service being cut by 1/3 or more starting next year, despite highly efficient operations, cuts in service, and increases in fares. The report describes reasons for the financial crisis, the future under several scenarios, and offers several ideas for immediate and long-term funding. Milwaukee County Transit System is a major contributor in the local Milwaukee economy, and our regional economy. See the report.
$13 rental car fee for KRM falters
The state Budget Repair Bill has been passed and does not include the $13 rental car fee that would have been a local funding source for KRM. The Wheeler Report recently published: "KRM is a big issue for Milwaukee and Racine and (Representative Jim) Kreuser said even if it's not in the budget adjustment bill it will be brought before everything is done. Kreuser said all leadership and corporations in the area are in support of the project and it is a critical time to move forward."
$13 rental car fee for KRM revived
The $13 rental car fee to fund the local costs of KRM was included in the Senate’s version of the state’s Budget Repair Bill (thanks to champions Senators Lehman and Decker). It was not included in the Assembly version. The bill is now in Conference Committee where the two versions of the bill are being resolved. The fee (Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee Counties) would allow KRM project to be reactivated at the federal review level by providing the required local share of capitol and operating costs of KRM. Until a comprehensive funding proposal is developed for all transit in the three counties, the $13 rental car fee to fund KRM is the only proposal on the table.
(See news article)
$13 rental car fee for KRM revived
Democrats announced that their economic development package will include the $13 rental car fee to fund the local share of KRM. The fee increase won support from the Senate during last year's budget deliberations but was not supported by the Assembly. Representative Jim Kreuser, D-Kenosha said that he is pleased to see the KRM funding mechanism back in the fold. (see news article)
Transit funding bill proposed (see news article)
A legislative bill that was initiated by the Alliance of Cities and by co-sponsored by Representative Robin Vos (R-Racine), and Representative Al Ott (R-Forest Junction). The bill would enable 2 or more municipalities in the state to create a Regional Transit Authority. In the January 15th bill draft, there were several provisions that would become critical barriers to gaining a functional RTA or KRM commuter rail in SE Wisconsin. The existing SE Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority (RTA) believes that it could better serve our area if it developed its own comprehensive plan for how the region's buses and trains should be run and how funding, governance, and municipal structures should be designed to best meet SE Wisconsin's unique needs and challenges. The RTA’s legislative mandate is to create just such a recommendation for the legislature and Governor. The RTA is pushing to have that plan prepared within the next few months.
KRM advocates announced that they are forging on after a major setback in the state budget process. Rosemary Potter, executive director of Transit NOW, said, "The feedback from business and elected leaders in the past few days has been overwhelming. There is more commitment than ever to keep KRM moving. There is broad consensus that KRM is simply too valuable to lose." The Southeast Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority will meet in November to discuss next steps for an alternative dedicated local funding source for KRM and local transit. See leaders' comments.
One last amendment was offered to get KRM local funding source into the budget during a special Conference Committee session. After a lengthy dialog, the Conference Committee Republicans rejected several compromises on the KRM local funding source, which killed the amendment. On Tuesday, the full legislature voted to approve a budget package that excludes the needed local funding source for KRM. The Governor then signed the budget into law.
Assembly votes "No" on KRM local funding source -- The Conference Committee, comprised of representatives from the Senate and the Assembly, are now working out a compromise budget with a vote likely in October. To meet federal deadlines and keep KRM commuter rail on track, the local funding source for KRM must be enabled. Currently, the only viable local funding option is the $13 rental car fee increase recommended by the Regional Transit Authority.
Senate votes "Yes"on KRM funding source
On June 26, 2007, the full state Senate voted to add the local funding source for KRM to the state budget. The $13 rental car fee increase would be collected by the Regional Transit Authority in the counties of Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha. The Senate's decision to add the funding source is a critical advancement in meeting a summer deadline when the application for federal funding and approval was submitted. In order to submit the application, a solid KRM local funding and operating plan must be included that identifies a funding source for the local share of operating and capital costs ($4.2 million annually to be divided among Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee.) The new funding source must be supported by the state legislature. Currently, the only viable local funding option is the $13 rental car fee increase recommended by the Regional Transit Authority.
Votes"No" on KRM funding source
May 31, 2007, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) of the state
legislature voted "No" on adding the $13 rental
car fee as a local funding source for KRM to the state budget.
There were 8 "Yes" votes (all Democrats) and 8 "No" votes (all Republicans.) The next opportunity to add the local
funding source approval to the state budget is during the
Senate budget deliberations in mid-June.
recommends rental car fee to fund local share of KRM
Southeastern Wisconsin Regional transit Authority voted January
30, 2007 to recommend a rental car fee increase of $13 to
fund the local share of KRM capital and operating costs. RTA
consultants investigated dozens of funding ideas, and found
the rental car fee to be a stable source of funds, generate
the needed funds ($4.8 million per year), and was the most
politically do-able solution. The increase leaves the rental
car rates in metro Milwaukee at an mid-level compared to similar
regionas nationwide.Governor Doyle supports the RTA's recommendation.
KRM Public Information Meetings slated for February 5, 7,
and 8, 2007
the Environmental Impact Study nears completion, public information
meetings were held in each county to tell the public about
the KRM project and get public feedback. See record of public comments.
RTA recommends a 3-county sales tax funding idea for KRM and
local local transit systems in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha
Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority agreed in
concept to look at a 3-county sales tax of 0.05% to fund KRM
commuter rail, with the ability to expand to include 0.45
for public transit at a later date. (See news reports). The
recommendation was opposed by some elected leaders.
• EIS consultants and steering committee recommend project changes
that reduce operating costs by nearly half, and increase dailyround-
trips to 14, ridership to 1.7 million annually (12/06)
project changes include the use of DMU vehicles that have
the engine in the same vehicle with the people, saving costs
and fuel, and more closely matching the ridership needs in
Wisconsin. The DMU trains are planned to meet Metra trains
in Kenosha or Waukegan where passengers will switch trains
in a well-coordinated and timed manner.More trip times and
express options are availabe to Wisconsin passengers using
this design.The number of trips per day were doubled to 14
daily round-trips during the week and 7 daily round-trips
during the weekend to provide more efficiency and convenience
for passengers. Service doubled while operating costs were
cut by 45%. Due to these and other changes in the project
the capital costs increased. (See
Earlier project milestones
• Transit-oriented design land use plans for station areas are reviewed and endorsed by local elected bodies (12/06)
• Regional Transit Authority Board confirmed, plan first meeting (1/06)
• Next Phase of KRM Commuter Rail Project Begins (10/05)
Public Meetings Feb. 21, 22, and 23, 2006
Phase completion expected 2/07
• Regional Transit Authority (RTA) created (7/05)
• $800,000 earmarked for KRM final engineering in state budget (7/05)
• Environmental Impact Study begins (7/05)
• County executives, mayors, and WisDOT sign agreement (2/05)
• Governor includes $800,000 for KRM rail in budget proposal (2/05)
• Elected officials & WisDOT move to start environmental study (1/05)
• Business and elected leaders unify to advance commuter rail (12/04)
• Mayors and Co. Exec's agree to move into next step
• Public gives resounding "thumbs up"
• Study advisory committee recommends preliminary engineering
• Transit-oriented design land use plans for station areas are
being reviewed and endorsed by local elected bodies.(12/06)
design plans are in the endorsement process. The plans were
created using community and municipal input and ideas that
were generated at 2 or more public workshops in each station
location, and many meetings with area stakeholders.
Workshops for Transit-Oriented Design of station areas begins
current EIS phase includes transit-oriented design land use
planning for each of the proposed station areas. Community
members are encouraged to attend workshops and give their
input to the design consultants.Two sets of public workshops
will take place, with completion of the plans expected in
late Summer/early Fall of 2006. Transit-oriented design (TOD)of
the station area development is essential in assuring good
train ridership and maximum economic benefits to communities.
The Federal Transit Administration requires TOD plans be approved
by communities for each station area in order to gain federal
funding for commuter rail projects.
Transit Authority Board confirmed, plan first meeting
Board of the new Regional Transit Authority is in place. The
first meeting is planned for February. The Board is comprised
of one member for each of hte following: Milwaukee County,
Racine County, Kenohsa County and the cities of Kenosha, Racine
and 2 members for the city of Milwaukee.
the RTA web site
Phase of KRM Commuter Rail Project Begins.
The next phase, officially called the Environmental
Impact Study (EIS) and Project Development Phase, for the
Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail project, has
begun. KRM Public Information meetings are scheduled for February
21, 22, and 23, 2006. This first round of public information
meetings is part of the project scoping process, used to identify
community issues and concerns early in the study. All interested
or affected residents, property owners, civic and community
leaders, business owners and other community members throughout
the corridor are encouraged to attend, learn more about how
the project alternatives have expanded, and most importantly,
provide feedback and comments. (event
info and talking points-pdf, EIS
project web site)
Regional Transit Authority (RTA) approved.
As a potential funding source and operator of KRM,
the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) provides a powerful mechanism
to assist in moving KRM commuter rail forward. The provision
includes an RTA governance structure and a limited short-term
funding source to assist in meeting its mission. The RTA is
charged with coordinating expanded regional transit, and developing
a recommendation for long-term RTA financing, scope, and other
key issues. The RTA budget amendment was championed by Rep.
Jeff Stone and other key legislators, and supported by Governor
Doyle. The RTA includes the counties of Kenosha, Racine, and
$800,000 for the state's share of final engineering in 05/07
Doyle's inclusion of funding for KRM final engineering
is supported by the legislature. Without the full $800,000,
the project was in jeopardy of losing federal funding, and
could have been seriously delayed.
Impact Study begins
engineering firm has begun work on the Environmental Impact
Study (EIS). The EIS is being managed by the 7-way intergovernmental
partnership created in February 2005. The EIS phase is expected
to take 15 months.
sets regional cooperation precedent
On February 25, 2005 the county executives and mayors of Kenosha,
Racine, and Milwaukee, and WisDOT joined in an act of true
regional cooperation when they sign an inter-governmental
agreement (IGA) that will act as the management structure
for the next steps of the KRM commuter rail Metra extension
project. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
will provide staffing and technical support for the seven-way
partnership, and the Wisconsin DOT will act as the lead technical
advisor. The signing of the IGA allows the Environmental Impact
Study to begin. The new intergovernmental group has also agreed
to complete work on preparations needed to begin Preliminary
Engineering, including long-term financing and management
plans, by September 2005.
includes KRM commuter rail in state budget proposal
by strong support from the business community, Governor Doyle
includes $800,000 in his budget proposal for engineering of
the Metra commuter rail extension. The Racine Journal Times
reports that WisDOT Secretary Busalacchi said "Doyle
is a champion of extending commuter rail, and added that he
was also in favor of the proposal". (2/9/05)
study to begin
Mayors and county executives
of Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha; the Wisconsin Department
of Transportation, and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional
Planning Commission met January 13, 2005 and agreed to move
into the environmental impact study for KRM commuter rail.
The group also made final alterations to an Inter-Governmental
Partnership agreement(IGP). The IGP will formalize the management
structure for the preliminary engineering for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee
commuter rail project. The IGP is expected to be signed in
the next few weeks.
Leaders and Elected Officials Join Together to Advance KRM
Business leaders and key elected officials from Kenosha, Racine
and Milwaukee joined together December 22, 2004 in overwhelming
agreement to work together to move Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee
(KRM) commuter rail forward. The group developed plans to
resolve critical issues. The meeting was hosted by Robert
Mariano, chairman and CEO of Roundy's, Inc. and chairman of
the Greater Milwaukee Committee's transportation committee;
and organized by Robert Mariano, the Greater Milwaukee Committee,
and Transit NOW.
Journal Sentinel article
leaders step up at critial time to take Metra Extension into
executives, mayors and staff from Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee
met September 30th at a meeting hosted by Kenosha County Executive
Allan Kehl to decide the next steps for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee
commuter rail Metra extension. At the meeting all six key
leaders agreed to move the project into preliminary engineering.
Journal Sentinel article PDF)
With federal funding covering $3.2 million and the state covering
$400,000 of the preliminary engineering costs, the six local
officials each agreed to come up with $33,333 a year for two
years (through private, public and in-kind sources) to pay
the local share.
Completed -- Public Support Strong
The detailed planning study and alternatives analysis looked
at costs, benefits and impacts of KRM Commuter Rail and other
transit services. It also examined various funding, operating
management and implementation alternatives.
of Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee Corridor Transit Study
An amazing 1287 people commented in favor of KRM Commuter
Rail with just 20 in opposition during the public input period.
Citizens had the opportunity to have their opinions about
KRM Commuter Rail heard and entered into the official record
at four public hearings in April and May of 2003. Comments
were also accepted by e-mail, fax and mail until May 16, 2003.
The public input illustrated the resounding support for KRM
Commuter Rail. Those commenting represented a wide diversity
of interests that is uncommonly rare in public projects.
and the study advisory committee have reviewed the testimony
and made the modifications needed to the study report. The
final draft of the study report was approved by the study
advisory committee on August 7, 2003. The advisory committee
then recommended unamimously (WisDOT obstained from the vote)
that KRM Commuter Rail, at the medium level of service, should
move into preliminary engineering with the state Department
of Transportatation managing the project. They also recommended
that the project be funded by federal and state dollars and
that the principal cities and counties meet within the next
month to develop a srategy for the next steps. Kenosha County
Executive Allan Kehl hosted the meeting in September, 2003.
1998, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
(SEWRPC) completed a feasibility study of KRM Commuter Rail.
The feasibility study concluded that KRM Commuter Rail is
technically and financially feasible.