Today's paper has an article about the Public Policy Forum issuing a report that states that the Milwaukee County Transit System is in dire straits, and something needs to be done, and done now. From the article (emphasis mine):
A $10-a-car countywide vehicle registration fee could be one of the best options for keeping the financially troubled Milwaukee County Transit System intact, the Public Policy Forum says in a report to be released Monday.
But the vehicle fee, also known as a "wheel tax," would be only a short-term measure to hold the bus system together until state and local officials can agree on a longer-term solution, such as a local sales tax, local gas tax or major increase in state funding, the nonpartisan research organization says.
And if county officials don't pursue any of those options and keep patching transit budget holes one year at a time, they soon will be forced to eliminate all Freeway Flyer routes and nearly all night, weekend and suburban service, the report warns. That would leave "a transit system that is a shell of its former self," the report says.
Such service cuts could slice into the regional economy because 75% of bus riders have few if any other transportation options, 52% don't even have driver's licenses and 43% ride buses to work, the report adds.
I've said before that I know Rob Henken and admire the work he did when he was with Milwaukee County. He is very intelligent and knows his way around a spreadsheet. He has also save Scott Walker's bacon from the fire on more than one occasion. That is why I hope that people will take what he is saying seriously.
What is even scarier is that Walker knows how good Henken is, but still isn't listening:
County Executive Scott Walker said he was studying options that would be "more rapid and more politically viable" than raising taxes.
In other words, he's hoping to keep slapping bandaids on the hemorrhaging wound he has created over the years, and that this would be enough to keep it from blowing up in his face until he can run for governor again. Yeah, right. And guess who gets to pay for the clean up of his mess?
Now, I'm not happy about the thought of a wheel tax. But the part I am not happy about is that this could have been avoided, and at a much less uncomfortable level. But Walker and his supporters wouldn't have any of it, and now we will all have to pay more for their obstinance.
Just don't say I didn't warn you. Because I did.