Today the Milwaukee County Transit System is celebrating its 150th. The system has been and is a critical element to economic development in the Milwaukee area. Unfortunately it has been in deep trouble, especially over the last number of years.
An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the subject today calls out state officials but conveniently leaves out two key names that should be held to account regarding MCTS. Those names would be Scott and Walker and the politically motivated short term thinking that he brings with him. He has continually cut routes and boosted fares during his time as county executive. The Public Policy Forum produced a study which showed a direct correlation between those short term moves and a rapidly declining ridership. So it should be no surprise that twice during Walker's administration the system hit historic levels of decline in ridership.
Today's festivities will include free riding on Route 15 and the unveiling of a new look for the 90 new Clean Diesel Buses. Most of those new buses come to us courtesy of the federal stimulus that Scott Walker was against and then for (depending on who was asking). In fact, it sounds like a decal or emblem of some sort will be prominently displayed on all of the new buses reflecting the fact that the stimulus bailed out Walker and paid for the much needed new buses. "Thanks for saving me from myself, Mr. President!" -Scott Walker
So while we celebrate MCTS 150th, perhaps we can hold out hope that the system's best days are still ahead of it. A key to that hope will be a County Executive that is capable of thinking about good public policy and long term solutions rather than self promotion and the politically motivated short term. When we get to that destination, maybe we can celebrate by having George Takei back to cut another commercial for MCTS.