Saturday, March 1, 2008

Walker mismanages transit system, undermines economic growth

Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker, says government needs to be run like a business.

But there’s not a business anywhere that would succeed if it was mismanaged the way Mr. Walker has mismanaged the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS)!

Walker, who has no private sector experience, has raised prices, while cutting service- a recipe for failure!

Last year ridership plunged 9% to a 33 year low even as national transit ridership soared to a 50 year high in response to high gas prices and growing traffic congestion.

Walker doesn’t grasp rudimentary economics. You can attract riders/customers with low prices. Or you attract them by offering high level (quality) services. But no enterprise, public or private, can raise prices and slash service and operate successfully.

Yet, this has been Walker's strategy for the Milwaukee County Transit System.

From 2001- 2007, Walker increased adult cash fares by 30% from $1.35 to $1.75 and weekly pass fares by 52% from $10.50 to $16. He eliminated seventeen bus routes; reduced service on sixteen routes; ended year round downtown trolley service; and cut night time service.

This year he raised the adult fare again-to $2.00. It is now one of the highest in the nation. And he cut four additional routes! Walker proposed cutting many more routes, but the County Board restored them.

And Walker’s not done. He plans to slash service 35% more by 2010.

Walker’s brags about holding Milwaukee County’s spending to the rate of inflation. But his 2001-2007 adult fare increases were 18% more than the rate of inflation while weekly pass prices soared almost 33% more.

With gas prices expected to approach $4 a gallon, many Milwaukee residents and suburban commuters are looking for cheaper, alternative transportation. Walker’s plan for the transit system coupled with his obstinate opposition to developing a catalytic light rail system has left Milwaukee with no viable transportation alternatives. It has also shifted costs to the Milwaukee Public School District, forcing the district to raise property taxes and cut school servces to pay for Walker's shortsighted student fare increases.

The United State Bowling Congress is leaving Milwaukee. Miller’s corporate headquarters may follow. While suburban businesses face labor shortages, unemployment remains stubbornly high in the County.

Does the County Executive really believe Milwaukee can attract and retain jobs and corporate headquarters without a viable public transit system?

Does Mr. Walker really think we can connect the unemployed with employers experiencing labor shortages without affordable and efficient mass transit?

When you put a fox in charge of the chicken coup, the feathers fly.


Dave said...

Agreed mass transit's decline in Milwaukee is the #1 reason we need to vote Walker out of office!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Walker's a problem and yes, we need to vote him out because of his regressive attacks on transit (and parks, and so on . . .)

But we also need to hold the Doyle administration accountable. They are blithely seeking more and more money for bigger and bigger highways, and letting transit suffer financially. They shouldn't be let off the hook.

Anonymous said...

Walker has not only demonstrated his inability to run a public good, but also his inability to run a private business. first, public transportation is a public good, it shoudl not be run to try and make a profit. it was established to benefit all citizens, not just those who can afford the outrageous costs. second, if it were to be run as a business Walker has obviously dropped the ball. raising costs and cutting various routes has crippled accessability for residents by both price and location. Lets get him out!

Anonymous said...

Ridership is declining because people DON'T WANT TO USE BUSES. Try standing in the cold at zero waiting for a bus.
We are probably only only a year or two away from having affordable electric "City cars" on the market. They'll have cold tolerant lithium batteries made companies like Johnson Controls in Glendale. Both GM and Ford will soon be selling them. In fact the Ford "Think" has been sold in Norway since 2000. They will provide convenient independent transportation at a fraction of the cost per mile of small gas cars.
That my friends is the future, not inefficient, fuel guzzling buses, that all to often are either empty or have less than a half dozen people rding.

Anonymous said...

Government is not a business. You can apply certain business principles; however, there are limitations. A private business would have cut transit completely (because there is no damand!) - but that is not an option in County Government. Walker is doing the best he can with what he is given.

Anonymous said...

affordable electric city cars would be great. however, that is not the reason walker cut the bus routes. and ridership would not drop at such a drastic level just b/c people don't want to use buses. it has dropped for many in milwaukee, b/c with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, people can no longer afford the higher rates. the demand for the buses is there, it just hasn't been made accessible under walker!

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