Republican leaders in the state assembly have drafted a bill to repeal Regional Transit Authorities in Dane County, Chippewa Valley, Chequamegon Bay and Southeastern Wisconsin. At the same time, Governor Scott Walker is believed to be preparing a budget that would cut state aids to transit. Taken together, the two measures would devastate transit in Wisconsin and cause cities with transit to raise fares and cut routes.
The jobs impact of this proposal are stark. Many transit dependent residents will lose access to their work sites. The loss in state and local aids will drive fares up and routes will be cut. Any jobs recovery in Wisconsin will benefit those who have cars and elude those who need transit to get to work. The cuts would also hurt residents who are physically unable to drive, making routine trips to the store, medical appointments and other visits far more difficult and costly. Other commuters who choose transit will face higher fares or will be forced to drive to work, adding thousands of dollars annually to their commute costs.
The transit cuts are being proposed despite a study that shows that investing in transit creates jobs. The report found that for every $1 billion invested in public transportation capital and operations, an average of 36,000 jobs are supported. These 36,000 jobs result in roughly $3.6 billion of business sales and generate nearly $500 million in federal, state and local tax revenues.
The RTA repeal and transit aid cuts would also harm municipal development efforts. Municipalities with good transit services are better positioned for growth that those without good transit services.