Sunday, June 2, 2024

June updates and events

LATA Leaders will meet on Wednesday, June 12 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss upcoming events, ongoing projects, new ideas, Ride with a Guide updates and Week Without Driving. Please email or call (LaCrosseTransitAdvocates@proton.me or 608-315-2693) if you would like to join the meeting online (and possibly in person).

The Forward La Crosse Bike/Ped Master Plan update process is nearing completion. You can view and comment on the final draft here: https://forwardlacrosse.org. We encourage all transit riders and advocates to continue providing input; public transportation is pedestrian infrastructure, just like sidewalks and stop lights. Is there enough about transit in this plan? Feed back by TOMORROW!! Monday, June 3!

On June 7 at 11 a.m., the Labor Network for Sustainability will host an online talk by Anna Zivarts, author of the new book, “When Driving is Not an Option: Steering Away from Car Dependency.” This book gives an insight to how to redesign our transportation systems to meet the needs of nondrivers - many of whom have a disability or are out of the qualifications of a driver’s license. Use this link to view on YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/LNS-ZivartsTalk

On Monday, June 10 at 7 p.m. the Wisconsin Transit Riders Alliance (WTRA) will hold its “at large” meeting – an informal gathering of members and transit riders from around the state. Ruth Rosas, America Walks, will join us at the start of the meeting to talk about Week Without Driving (September 30 through October 6) and what transit advocate groups can do to promote the event and use it to highlight transit issues. All members of LATA are automatically members of WTRA, though you do not need to be a member to attend the meeting. Please reply to this email for Zoom access information.

On Thursday, June 20, the MTU will host a “Talking Transit” event at the Southside Neighborhood Center from 4 to 7 p.m. This is a chance for us to talk with MTU staff about our experiences and ideas for improving service, bus stop amenities (seating!), mobility, ADA compliance issues, paratransit and more. LATA will join several other organizations tabling at this event. Please plan to attend!

LATA hosted a SMRT ride to Viroqua on May 1 and we were joined on the ride by former La Crosse County Board Chair Tara Johnson, currently a candidate for the 96th District State Assembly district. We talked transit, including funding, the state's prohibition on Regional Transit Authorities, how development siting affects family and governmental finances and climate action, and more. As a result of our conversations and experiences on this ride and previous rides, we reached out to the LAPC about ideas for improving SMRT service, communications, and marketing. We are hoping to tell you about public input opportunities later this summer. Stay tuned!

The Coulee Region Sierra Club hosted a Transit 2 Trails event on Saturday, June 1, National Trails Day. The original plan had to be modified because of rain, but participants ended up having a great time, and it was an excellent way to highlight acces to some public trails via 
public transportation. LATA may host one or more Transit 2 Trails events in the future.

Can you help us table at the June 20 Talking Transit event and at the July 20 Disability Pride Fest event hosted by the Disability Action Network at Central High School? If you would be interested in helping out for an hour or so, please reply to this email. No experience needed – just a love of transit and desire to spread the word about how great it is!

We are also working on getting our Ride with a Guide program back up and running stronger. LATA leader Liz Fryseth has set up a Ride Guide training at a local service agency and we'll use that experience to fine tune similar events in the future. By fall, we hope to offer training for individuals and organizations wishing to learn how to ride the bus and learn how to teach others to ride the bus. If you would like to be a Ride Guide or know of a group, business, agency, or organization that would like training, please connect! LaCrosseTransitAdvocates@proton.me or 608-315-2693.

Please consider formally joining LATA using this link: https://tinyurl.com/JoinLATA!

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Have your say, connect, celebrate, and ride!

There are several transit-related events coming up soon.

On Monday, May 20, the final draft of the update for the city's Bike/Ped Master Plan will be available to perusal and input at the La Crosse Public Library from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. There will be a presentation at 5:30. While many of us commented toward the beginning of the process about the importance of including public transportation as pedestrian infrastructure, it's not clear how much (or even if) public transportation is considered in this plan. If you can attend and comment, please do. Learn more at https://forwardlacrosse.org.


On Tuesday, May 21, the BOREALIS (formerly TCMC) begins service and there will be a party at the Amtrak station from noon to 3:00 p.m. to welcome the second daily trains, one in each direction, to our community. We are promised a food truck, music, dignitaries, and more. The eastbound Borealis is due to arrive at the station at about 2:16 p.m. Alas, currently, there will be no bicycle accommodations on these new trains, but several people are pushing for this to change.

 

On Thursday, May 30, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and AARP will host a follow-up event to last year's Community Transportation Academy

"Please join us from 2-4:30 in the afternoon at UWL for an appetizer reception with local transportation project highlights and an evening screening from 5:30-7:30 of The Street Project, a documentary by the award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Boyd about the global citizen-led fight to make our streets safer, followed by an open Q&A at the historic Rivoli Theater in downtown La Crosse. This is a great opportunity to connect with others in the community who are dedicated to expanding transportation options in the La Crosse area.

These events follow Ride With the Mayor in the morning, an annual bike tour of new improvements and future challenges in La Crosse; Ride With the Mayor is organized by local advocates and supported by the City of La Crosse Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

 

These events are free and open to the public, but we ask that you RSVP here (please note that no RSVP is required for Ride With the Mayor): https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd8KGIDdviW90EsoAWmgGib8oejY7qqOJawcjYUYj7D4giQEg/viewform 

 


On Saturday, June 1, the Coulee Region Group and Wisconsin Chapter Sierra Club will host a TRANSIT TO TRAILS event. Participants will meet at the Grand River Station Transit Center a little before 8:30 a.m., ride the bus together to the La Crosse River Conservancy Trail near Stoney Creek Inn, hike, and return on the bus to the Transit Center at about 11:40 a.m. An optional on-your-own lunch at Pickermans will follow the trip. Register here: https://tinyurl.com/LaXT2TRegister or call 608-315-2693.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Golden Spike tour

From WisARP:

The Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern (CPKC) Final Spike Steam Tour, featuring Empress steam locomotive 2816, will be traveling from Calgary to Mexico City and it will pass along the CPKC main in Wisconsin on May 5-6, 2024. 

There's a special event at St. Paul Union Station on May 3 (3 to 8 p.m.) and one in Franklin Park, Illinois on May 8, but no events for train access or rides are scheduled for Wisconsin. 

The CPKC tour will follow Amtrak's Empire Builder route. It is scheduled to pass through La Crosse on May 5. This tracker is supposed to show where the train is in real time.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

May 1 SMRT ride

We had perfect weather for our May Day Ride SMRT 2 Viroqua. We were joined by former La Crosse County Board chair, Tara Johnson, who was part of the birth of SMRT. The bus was right on time and we spent the whole ride talking transit.

Once in Viroqua, everyone split up to do their own things with return options throughout the afternoon, though we did learn from the driver of our next-to-last bus back that, just this week, the last bus back had been dropped (but it was still on the schedule!)

My daughter and I rented bikes at Bluedog Cycles, right across the street from where we got off the bus, and met up with a friend. We got a delicious take-out lunch from The Noble Rind Cheese Company, then ode to Ekhart Park to eat and chat. We rode to the other end of town to visit more friends and then spent some time at Driftless Books and Music. We returned the bikes and walked to Vernon Memorial Hospital to catch the 3:24 bus back to La Crosse.

The SMRT is such a gem. In a state with no Regional Transit Authority (a governmental entity that allows several counties to work together and levy taxes to provide regional transit) this system, a public-private partnership that DOES provide regional transit for workers, students, patients, youth, elders, the Amish community and more, is really a miracle.

It's a shame that there is almost zero marketing or information about this great service. The website is minimal (no information about requesting a stop at the Amtrak, for example), many of the stops are unmarked or marked incorrectly, there's no way to know in real time if the bus is late or cancelled, and, aside from the LATA SMRT rides, there are no education and outreach events to highlight all the places you can go on the SMRT. We have heard that even employers whose workers use the service do very little promotion. 

After last spring's ride, LATA offered suggestions and volunteered time to help with some of these issues, but we did not hear anything back. We will try again this year and we plan another ride this fall during Week Without Driving.