Transit on the Verge of Disappearing in Wisconsin

Healthy communities may need transit but apparently the majority in the Wisconsin legislature thinks transit is an affliction that we don’t need.  So far, transit funding has been a favorite target of the new majority.    Here is what we know just eight weeks into the new year:

  • The Budget Repair Bill provision that ends collective bargaining will cost the state $46 million in lost federal transit aids according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau Memo. However, majority Republicans will not allow an amendment to the bill to fix the provisions.  Rep. Robin Voss (R-Rochester) opposes fixing the transit provision because the issue is a “gray area.”
  • Representatives Robin Voss and Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) are introducing a bill to repeal Regional Transit Authorities – the only local taxing authority dedicated solely to transit.  In Dane County that means a lost opportunity to obtain up to $42 million annually in transit revenues.
  • Governor Walker’s Biennial Budget Bill will remove transit funding from the transportation fund and provide an as of yet undetermined reduction of funds provided by the General Fund.

All of this adds up to unprecedented losses of revenues for transit systems that have been growing in ridership in recent years.  Most analysts expect transit demand to grow as oil prices rise and driving becomes even more expensive. (Oil prices are nearing $100 a barrel due to concerns about stability in Libya and possibly Saudi Arabia.)

Help keep transit as an option for Wisconsin communities.