After weeks of speculation that there would be massive bus route and paratransit cuts along with substantial, yet modest, increases in fares, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker announced 4 broad points in the transit portion of his yet-to-be-finalized 2008 county budget proposal:
- The base fare will increase $0.25, from $1.75 to $2.00 (14.3%), and there will likely be some shortening of bus routes.
- In exchange, there will be no route eliminations, and the weekly bus pass and 10-ride ticket pack will not be increased from $16.
- The Transit Plus vans for disabled riders will increase in cost from $3.25 to $4.00 (23.1%).
- In exchange, countywide door-to-door service will continue, rather than the federally-mandated service within 3/4 mile of a regular bus route.
Predictably, the professional tantrum-throwers who purport to represent those who use public transit are throwing hissy fits:
“I’m glad he’s not making cuts, but I think it’s still an awfully big raise for a lot of people who can’t afford it,” said Arlene Conley, chairman of the county’s Transit Plus Advisory Council, which advocates for paratransit users. “That’s $1.50 round-trip.”
Matt Nelson, one of the organizers of the fledgling Milwaukee Transit Riders Union, was more outspoken.
“Any fare increases or cuts in service are unacceptable and will be fought by our membership,” now more than 400 strong, Nelson said. “A fare increase is a regressive tax and another example of Walker’s disregard for Milwaukee County residents.”
Hey Arlene and Matt. Try dealing with an over-50% increase in the cost of transportation, which is precisely what I am dealing with. I don’t get a subsidy on that, and I also don’t have a driver whose wages have a cost-of-living adjustment built in. May I offer you a tall, frosty glass of Quit Your Whining?