Monday, January 23, 2023

Coming Soon! Transit Equity Days!

 UPDATE: The press event originally scheduled for Monday has been RESCHEDULED! It will now be held on WEDNESDAY, FEB. 1 AT 10 A.M. AT THE GRAND RIVER STATION TRANSIT CENTER. Please attend if you can!

Please join us in recognizing the importance of public transportation as a civil right during Transit Equity Days in La Crosse. We will look at aspects of transit equity, talk to elected leaders about local transit, share stories, appreciate transit workers, and join with other transit advocates around the country during the Labor Network for Sustainability's live stream on Transit Equity Day, Rosa Parks' birthday, Saturday, February 4.

How can transit advocates use this event to educate and agitate for better transit in our area?

1. Share the flyer above online by emailing your contacts and reposting to your social media. If you want to print and post one, use this .pdf version

2. Sign the Thank You card right now to show local transit workers we recognize and appreciate the essential service they provide. 

3. If you can, attend the press event to kick-off the week on Monday, January 30 at 1 p.m. at the Jay Street Transit Center PRESS EVENT RESCHEDULED TO WEDNESDAY, FEB. 1 AT 10:00 A.M.

4. Please check the event page at tinyurl.com/LaXTED2023 to see if your elected city council representative or county board member will be holding an Office Hour on the Bus and plan to ride with them. If your representative is not on the list yet, please ask them to participate. If you are unable to ride when they are riding, please consider calling or emailing them to talk about transit.

5. If you haven't yet, use this online form to share your transit story. We'll share these stories with decision makers next week and throughout the year.

 6. If you are on Twitter, follow us @LaXWIForTransit and retweet our posts with #LaCrosseTED when you see them. 

These two online events are of particular interest to transit advocates! Please attend if you can:

On Tuesday, January 31 at 7 p.m. Susan Gaeddert of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin will talk about "Transit Equity and Climate Action" in a program hosted by the Coulee Region Sierra Club. Register here: https://tinyurl.com/CRSC-013123

On Wednesday, February 1 at 2 p.m., the Sustainability Institute's monthly Sustainability Chat will cover local and regional public transit with MTU Director, Adam Lorentz and La Crosse Area Planning Committee Executive Director Peter Fletcher who will talk about the SMRT program. Register here: https://www.sustaininstitute.com/event-details/sustainability-chats-local-public-transportation 

Remember to check out the event page for updates and more details!


 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Updates and events

There's a new weekly update produced by Bridget Brown, the La Crosse Walk and Roll Report, to provide information for walking, biking, and rolling community advocates. If you would like to get on the list and have the update emailed, please email bridgetcatbrown-at-gmail.com. There's a lot of good information on opportunities to connect with other advocates and learn more about the issues.
UWL is seeking participants for a fitness walking test which includes three 45 minute sessions on campus. A UWL graduate student is looking for volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65 to participate in the Rockport Fitness Walking Test. Volunteers who successfully complete the program will receive $40. For more details, please contact Duressa Kumbi, Kumbi1244@UWLaX.edu (608-785-8683).
Forward La Crosse is still seeing input on its update to our city's comprehensive plan. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure that better active transportation, including public transit, is prioritized in the coming years. Please visit the website at ForwardLaCrosse.org to participate.
There's still time to register (free) for Transportation 4 America's Transportation Camp, a day-long event that includes speakers and break-out sessions about public transportation issues and ideas.  Visit t4america.org/transportation-camp for details.
The City of Madison is beginning a study to determine the site of an Amtrak station there in anticipation of a planned spur line from the Amtrak Empire Builder line. If you travel to Madison and would go by train if it were possible, you may want to weigh in, too. Visit this site for more details on the project. Currently, there are six sites on the list.

Have you tried the new GenFare system yet? Have you taken an Amtrak or Greyhound trip recently? Have you read a great transportation-related book? Please let us know if you would like to post at our blog about your personal experiences, book reviews, great public transit ideas or related.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Call the Governor. No I-94 Expansion!

From Coulee Region Sierra Club:

TELL GOVERNOR EVERS TO STOP THE I-94 EXPANSION IN MILWAUKEE!

For more than a decade, environmental, social justice, and transportation equity groups have been fighting an expansion to I-94 in Milwaukee first proposed during the Walker administration. After years of citizen action, including a law suit, Scott Walker pulled the plug. 

Inexplicably, Governor Evers resurrected the project in 2020 and the fight is on again. Read the history of the I-94 expansion here.https://www.sierraclub.org/wisconsin/blog/2020/07/stop-zombiehighway

Pushing back on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) plans to expand the highway, a coalition of groups produced a "Fix at Six" alternative, prioritizing fixing the existing roadway, retaining the six lanes, and offering other ways to improve transportation in the area, including support for public transit.

Late last month, WisDOT announced that it still plans to expand the higway to eight lanes and increase the footprint of the project. This is not an acceptable answer. 

Expanding highways does NOT alleviate congestion. In fact, in many cases, congestion increases as more people try to drive on the roadway. 

The I-94 has already caused harm to communities of color by cutting through neighborhoods and business areas, increasing noise and air pollution, and making local transportation more difficult.

With a price tag of more than $1 billion, this project is too expensive, will not solve identified problems, and will make things worse for the people who live in the community. 

This is a concern for everyone in our state. A climate governor would not be proposing even more highway expansions. That money could be better spent on improving public transportation, especially regional and rural transportation, that will seriously address the climate crisis. 

Be aware that WisDOT is not being clear about its latest plan, which incorporates a few of the Fix at Six ideas but is NOT Fix at Six.

CALL GOVERNOR EVERS TODAY AND TELL HIM NO!

The Wisconsin Sierra Club, as part of the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation, has created a call script. We are asking everyone - especially climate and transit activists - to call the Governor's office on Wednesday and strongly urge him to stop the expansion of the highway and back the Fix at Six proposal that was produced by the people of the state.

When you are finished calling, please report your call the Sierra Club using the link below.

===

Call Governor Evers' office about the I-94 expansion project in Milwaukee that his administration is pushing forward.

Phone number to call: (608) 266-1212

Sample script to use:
Hello, this is [NAME]. I am a Wisconsin resident in [CITY]. I'm calling because I was disappointed to see the Governor's Department of Transportation continue with the I-94 expansion in Milwaukee. 

I'm concerned about this project because [PICK ONE OR MORE POINTS BELOW]:
  • Transportation is a leading cause of carbon emissions, and studies like Transportation 4 America's Congestion Con report demonstrate that adding lanes increases car use and traffic congestion. Continuing to invest in high-emitting infrastructure is not something that a climate champion would do. 

  • Highway expansion projects have harmed Communities of Color and Low Income Communities. Federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called for tax dollars to be used to right the wrongs of racist infrastructure policy decisions. He said "we've also seen countless cases around the country where a piece of infrastructure cuts off a neighborhood or a community because of how it was built." I expect Governor Evers to align with the Biden administration in making racially just decisions on infrastructure in our state.

  • [SHARE YOUR OWN CONCERN OR PERSONAL STORY]
I hope that Governor Evers will right this error by pushing for WISDOT to study a new alternative that actually addresses the concerns of the community and that repairs the highway in its current footprint, with 6 lanes and an interchange that is not overbuilt, and minimizes air and water pollution and negative impacts to community resources like Valley Park. Additionally, I hope that Governor Evers will prioritize transit, walking and biking funding moving forward.

After you've made your call, please fill out the form! And consider writing comments to submit to WisDOT by January 1.
 
Here's more information from the 2020 Wisconsin Sierra Club blog about the project:

The I-94 expansion project was and still is a bad idea for so many reasons:

  1. It would worsen the climate crisis. The transportation sector is the largest contributor to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the US. Expanding highway infrastructure that caters to single passenger traffic will increase carbon emissions. This project is in direct conflict with the expressed goals of the Governor’s Climate Task Force.  Here’s the bottom line: climate-friendly governors do not expand highways.

  2. It would negatively impact public health. Because highway expansion almost always increases the number of cars on the road, air pollution increases with these projects. Traffic pollution causes asthma, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Entertaining the idea of expanding a highway during a pandemic is inexcusable.

  3. It would exacerbate racial injustice. Wisconsin’s decades-long focus on highway transportation investments has worsened the region’s racial and economic segregation. Not only are highways a physical barrier, but they also increase air pollution in the surrounding communities - which are Communities of Color.  In 2014, the federal government found that the Zoo Interchange caused “irreparable harm,” to minority communities. This project on the same corridor is no different. Members of low-income and minority communities often lack reliable transportation options. Yet, this project is being reconsidered even at a time of heightened awareness about structural racism in Wisconsin.

  1. It would be costly. Spending money (an estimated $1 billion) on this project at the expense of fixing our local roads and repairing our existing road and transit infrastructure is a big price to pay for a mere 3.5 miles of interstate. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s public transportation system and local road system are languishing due to lack of investment.

  2. It would not fix congestion as proponents of the project suggest; in fact - highway expansions often make congestion worse shortly after construction is complete! This is because of induced demand -- essentially “if you build it, they will come.” Why should a damaging project move forward to make the very thing proponents of the project want to solve even worse?

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

2023 Transit Equity Days

 

Planning has started for TRANSIT EQUITY DAYS in the La Crosse area! As of now, we plan to have activities and events from Monday, January 30 through Saturday, February 4. We hope to bring back our displays at the Library and Transit Center, our request for riders to Share Your Transit Story, our engagement with elected leaders (in 2023, Office Hour on the Bus), and more. 

If you or your group would like to host a Transit Equity Days event or if you'd like to get in on the planning in early December, please let us know. 

For a look at last year's events, check out our 2022 event page.

For more information about the history and purpose of Transit Equity Day, check out the Labor Network for Sustainability.