Our patchwork of county­-by­-county transit systems is inadequate to meet southeastern Wisconsin’s growing mobility needs. Access to jobs is a key requirement for any transit to be considered a success, but because of the lack of dedicated funding and clear policy direction, transit in our region cannot keep pace with the increasing demand for better service.

The solution is threefold:

  • We need to provide dedicated funding for transit that is linked to job growth.
  • We need to regionalize transit service, planning and governance.
  • We need to link transportation investment decisions to key urban development goals.

Providing Dedicated Funding

We should be looking around the country and around the world for best practices in long-­term, dedicated funding of public transportation.Some key recent examples are:

  • Los Angeles County, which raised more than a billion dollars per year over the next thirty years for key public transportation investments by creating a $.005 sales tax

  • California, which has invested heavily in statewide high-­speed rail

  • Portland, Oregon, whose regional transit employment tax links long-­term transit infrastructure and service with economic growth

Regionalizing the Problem ­­– and the Solution

Many other regions fund and govern transit regionally, cutting across jurisdictional boundaries and recognizing that the commute-­shed is much larger than any one city or county. People travel throughout southeastern Wisconsin every day, and they go where their needs are, regardless of which neighborhood or sewer district they may be in.We need to create a Regional Transit Authority that will make wise decisions for all of southeastern Wisconsin. With buy­-in from many stakeholders, including businesses, riders and community members, we can fund transit that works for everyone in our region, regardless of where they live or work. 

Smarter Investments That Go Further

Transportation investment drives development. By making it easier to get to places that are well served by transit, we can increase the value of the land in those places. This strategy is tried and true, and has led to the revitalization of neighborhoods across the country and around the world. We need to link our transit investment decisions to our region’s growth and development goals so we get more for our money and our communities.