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The Way I See It!

I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.

About Those Bus Riderships!

Bus, Milwaukee County, MCTS

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Bus ridership sinks further

 

Milwaukee County drops faster than U.S.

 

For the second year in a row, Milwaukee County Transit System ridership fell to a record low in 2010, driven down by a combination of fare increases, service cuts and a still-sluggish economy.

 

Other bus systems also felt the lingering effects of the recession, which left fewer jobs for bus riders to commute to.  But Milwaukee County buses lost riders more than six times as fast as the national average last year.

 

And even as rising gas prices helped boost ridership for some bus systems in the first quarter of this year, Milwaukee County ridership continued to tumble.

 

Despite the cuts, however, the Milwaukee and Madison areas rank among the country's best at connecting riders to jobs by public transit, according to a national study being released Thursday.  Of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, Milwaukee provides the 14th-best transit access to jobs and Madison 15th-best, just behind 13th-ranked New York and ahead of 46th-ranked Chicago, the Brookings Institution said in its study, "Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America."

 

But that access could be threatened if proposed cuts in state aid to transit result in more service reductions and fare increases, warned the Washington, D.C., think tank.

 

Milwaukee County bus ridership dropped 4.75%, from 39.4 million in 2009 to 37.5 million in 2010, the transit system reported.  Both figures are the lowest since the county took over the bus company in 1975.  By contrast, nationwide public transit ridership dipped 0.74%, to 10.2 billion last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

 

Contributing to the local ridership decline were elected officials' decisions to slice service, raise fares or both every year since 2001, transit officials said.  That trend continued this year, with the elimination of three Freeway Flyer routes and a cutback in weekend service.

 

Transit officials expected the service cuts to trim ridership by 1.5%, said Jacqueline Janz, spokeswoman for the Milwaukee County bus system. Ridership actually declined 2.1% in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same three months of 2010.  But Janz said it was too early to draw conclusions, because a blizzard shut down the transit system for one day in February and the Milwaukee Public Schools - an important source of bus riders - were closed for several days afterward.

 

At a bus stop at N. 3rd St. and W. Wisconsin Ave., riders voiced differing views on the state of transit service.

 

"I just think the bus fare is too high," said Jessica Martin, 21, as she and her cousin Cashay Burks, 13, waited for a Route 30 (Sherman Blvd.-Wisconsin Ave.) bus to Sherman Park.  "Homeless people have to stand outside and beg to get money to get on the bus."

 

"They need some more routes," added Erwin Wright, who was selling fragrances to bus riders from his motorized scooter.  "They should stop trying to cut it, and find different ways to fund it."

 

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a 10% cut in transit aid statewide, which would cut $7 million from Milwaukee County. County officials are fighting that cut and seeking to shore up the bus system.

 

"It's critical that we have a transit system that connects workers to jobs and I look forward to ridership recovering as the economy grows," County Executive Chris Abele said in an email.  "In the meantime, I will work to support the transit system in the next year by seeking efficiencies, adding more fuel-efficient buses, implementing a new farebox system and fighting for our fair share of transit funding from Madison."

 

Supervisor Michael Mayo Sr. said reversing some of the past service cuts is crucial to rebuilding ridership.  The bus system should restore routes to job centers and late-night service for second-shift workers, said Mayo, chairman of the County Board's Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee.

 

But residents of the four-county area still can reach 49% of area jobs by bus in 90 minutes or less, the Brookings study said.  Researchers found two-thirds of working-age residents - and 100% of those in the city - live within three-quarters of a mile of a bus stop, where on average they wait less than seven minutes during a weekday morning rush hour.

 

Visiting on business, area native Bob Pisciotta notices the difference.  He said bus service is "substandard" near his home in the suburbs of Kansas City, Kan., while the Route 10 (Humboldt Ave.-Wisconsin Ave.) bus takes him from downtown to his mother's door in eastern Waukesha County.

 

Study co-author Robert Puentes, a Brookings senior fellow, said transit officials have managed well in the face of cuts, but may not be able to do so with further cuts.

 

"This is a moment for public transit now," amid public concern about rising gas prices and climate change, Puentes said.  "One thing we shouldn't be doing is severing the lifelines of people who need it the most."

 

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/121680068.html

 

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