Walker’s Transit Record: The Road to Failure

Result: Nation's Highest Fees, Starved Infrastructure to Score Political Points

MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s call for Wisconsin to reject federal Recovery Act funds for critical job creation and railway infrastructure needs reflects Walker’s long-time failure on transit issues, which have led to among other things, the nation’s highest transit fees for already-struggling Milwaukee County residents.

“The train has passed on Scott Walker’s failure to lead when it comes to the critical transit needs of Milwaukee County,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Walker’s record is clear: record transit fees and record failure.”

Walker’s record of failure on transit:

  • Walker’s opposition to the creation a designated revenue stream for the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) has resulted in a 50 percent increase in fees since 2002 and the highest fares in the nation [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/18/2007; 6/27/08]
  • Walker’s failed leadership has resulted in a $20 million annual structural hole in MCTS’s budget. The non-partisan Public Policy Forum reported that Walker’s inaction could result in “more than a 30 percent reduction in transit service, which would involve elimination of all freeway flyer service and one in three local bus routes.” [Public Policy Forum, 1/10]
  • Despite Walker’s objections to the federal Recovery Act, the Transit system was bailed out in 2009 with a $25 million cash infusion from the federal recovery package. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/8/2009]
  • Walker’s cuts to bus routes stymied county economic development by pushing tens of thousands of jobs out of the reach of the residents who needed them most, according to a UW-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development report. The report warned that a predicted service cut for 2010 would leave public transit inaccesable for more than 100,000 jobs and most employers. As result, “poverty and unemployment would likely increase, and employers would face an increasingly constricted labor market.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/18/2008]
  • After years of cutting city lines and jacking fees, Walker sought rapid transit commuter lines to service suburban commuters only outside of Milwaukee. [Business Journal, 7/28/2008; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/30/2007]
  • “Scott Walker’s failure to lead and disastrous transit policies have driven Milwaukee County into a ditch,” said Ross. “While Milwaukee County is looking for real solutions, Walker offers more of the failed policies of starving public infrastructure to give tax breaks to the rich which caused the national economic collapse in the first place.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.