I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
This week, we have 2 opportunities to offer our thoughts on the 2014 Milwaukee County Budget with County Executive Chris Abele. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center
1531 W. Vliet St.
Milwaukee, WI 53205
Greendale Safety Center
5911 W. Grange Ave.
Greendale, WI 53129
My schedule does not allow me to attend, but I have sent County Executive Abele my thoughts on transportation.
I am sending you this email in regards to the 2014 County Budget. My schedule will not allow for me to attend either of the scheduled listening sessions at this time.
As you may recall, back in mid-April I testified along with my son Tyler, at the Democratic Budget Hearings held at the MPS Administrative Building. We spoke on public transportation and the need for the State Legislature to increase funding to continue to allow individuals with disabilities to be active members of their community. While we were successful in some of our requests at the State level, we did not receive all of our requests. I think that Milwaukee County has done a good job with their available resources at maintaining routes and affordable fares. I see that the budget looks to maintain current routes and fares in the 2014 Budget as they were in the 2013 Budget, this includes paratransit, I thank you for this. I have been especially grateful for paratransit helping to cover all of Milwaukee County for individuals with disabilities.
I would like to see an expansion of routes. As I mentioned at a County Budget Hearing in Cudahy a couple of years ago and again at the Democratic Budget Hearing in April, my son cannot take a County bus from Cudahy to visit his grandmother in southern Oak Creek. He, along with many of his friends, should have access to everything that Milwaukee County has to offer, not just what is available off bus routes. Are their jobs that individuals do not have access to because there is currently not a bus route available to them to get them to their job?
At the recent National Governors Association meetings held in Milwaukee, the first topic of discussion was the realization that individuals with disabilities can contribute to our workforce and that States need to make a concerted effort to include individuals with disability in all employment initiatives. This is an untapped pool of workers who want to be contributing members of their community. To make this a successful endeavor, we need to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the means to get to and from work; this is true for both transit and paratransit. Without reliable transportation, no person can be successful in holding a job.
Transportation is a very important component of community participation. Community participation gives us all a sense of belonging to a community. There are so many aspects of community participation. Individuals want to live in the community, go to church in the community, shop in the community, visit family and friends in the community and work in the community to name just a few. Because of a physical or cognitive disability, many individuals will never be able to drive; this should not prevent anybody from being a part of their community. I don’t know if Tyler will be able to drive at some point in time, but I do know that he enjoys being a part of his community and wants to continue to have access to his community.
With the recent announcement of MV Transportation taking over the management of the County bus system, I am concerned how that may affect fares. Going from a non-profit agency to a for-profit agency could change how fares are set in the future. It is vital that fares remain at an affordable level for all riders and that routes remain at the current levels, if not expanded to include the entire County.
I am hopeful that when decisions are being considered on routes and fares, that individuals with disabilities are at the table to be a part of the conversation. I am willing to be a part of that process as a parent, to ensure that my son and others have access to their community.
Thank you for your time and consideration on this issue. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.