Wednesday, December 16, 2020

December 17 - Call for Transit!

Call In Day: Support Transit, Walking, Biking & Local Roads!

Date and Time:  Thu, Dec 17, 2020  8:00 AM  (Local Time)

Organized By: John Muir Chapter

Event Organizers:  Cassie Steiner,

The Department of Transportation has made its state budget request. Next, the budget is in the hands of the Governor, followed by the Joint Finance Committee. 

This is a huge opportunity for members of the public to urge investment in the forms of transportation that our state most needs: transit, walking, biking and local road repairs.

Join us on Thursday, December 17 for a call in day to the Governor, Lt. Governor and Joint Finance Committee Members! 

Let us know you're attending, and we will send you a reminder with a script and phone numbers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

People's Budget Hearings - Advocate for Transit!


The Governor is hosting a series of online People's Budget town halls on different aspects of the 21-23 budget. The next one is at 6 p.m. on December 2 (online) and its focus is on the environment, infrastructure, and economy.

There is no special session specifically about transportation, so we are encouraging transit advocates to sign up to attend and speak at this session. You cannot separate a good, clean, equitable, comprehensive public transportation system from environmental concerns, from infrastructure spending priorities, and from planning for rebuilding a post-coronavirus economy. 

If it follows the format of the first session (on healthcare), the session will begin with a welcome and introduction and then participants will be assigned to virtual breakout rooms. Each room will have a facilitator to ensure everyone gets a chance to participate. The breakout sessions will last about an hour and will be organized around specific questions asked by the facilitator. 

SIGN UP NOW (space is limited!) TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DECEMBER 2 PEOPLE'S BUDGET TOWN HALL. If you don't want to participate in the town hall, you may submit written comments using this link.

If you decide to participate, it might be best to consider how public transportation intersects with the environment, infrastructure spending, and economic recovery. Here are just a few ideas to get your own thoughts flowing:

* Emissions from cars and light trucks currently lead all categories in greenhouse gases that are driving the climate catastrophe, for example

* Pollution from cars is a leading cause of asthma and other respiratory and heart diseases, especially in low-income communities near large highways

* Congestion wastes fuel, increases pollution, and reduces safety. Having more public transportation that can move more people in a single vehicle reduces those problems.

* For the billion dollars proposed to be spent expanding a 3-mile stretch of  interstate in Milwaukee that will cause more congestion, more pollution, and will divide important communities of color, we could be well on the way to the cross-state high speed rail line Scott Walker nixed in 2010.

* Many Wisconsin communities do not currently have public transportation systems. Those that do could use increased state support to provide more frequent, expanded service 

* Many Wisconsin taxpayers don't or can't drive their own cars. Many younger adults don't even want cars. The budget, to be equitable, should treat the transportation needs of the non-car population at as high a level as the car-drivers. That means ensuring non-car drivers have access and transportation not just a few hours during a work day but all hours of every day, not just to and from work, but to and from shopping, entertainment, services, recreation, and everyday life needs.

* Ensuring people can get to jobs should not mean ensuring that they buy and pay for expensive private cars. For a strong, people-centered economy, a good, comprehensive public transportation is required.

For more reading:

* The American Public Transportation Association has a series of white papers on the economic impact of public transportation

*  Smart Cities' Top Ten Benefits of Public Transportation

* Information from the U.S. Department of Transportation

Sunday, November 1, 2020

New Buses - New Protections - New Fare Collection!

At the most recent MTU Board meeting, MTU director, Adam Lorentz announced some exciting NEWS!

The city is getting MANY new buses including "clean diesel" and hybrids. By the end of 2021, the MTU will be running TEN new buses! Funding is coming from the federal government and from the VW settlement money. This will be great for riders and for our environment.

There is ongoing consideration of a NORTHSIDE CIRCULATOR but no details have been announced yet. If you have thoughts about where such a route should go, visit the MTU page and click on the FEEDBACK link at the top.. 

In addition, using CARES funds, the city is ramping up the air filtration systems in all the buses. This will benefit drivers and passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic and all other times. HEPA level filters will help keep the buses cleaner and healthier. 

In addition, the city is retrofitting and ordering for new buses germ barriers in all buses. This will help keep people safer from illness.

FARES WILL BE FREE THROUGH THE END OF 2020. The city has used CARES funding to maintain free fairs though December and to keep contracts for other communities (Onalaska, Town of Campbell, and La Crescent) at the same levels as 2020. 

When fares are collected again, there will be a new touchless fare collection system. We don't have details yet, but this is exciting news as it opens other possibilities including capped fares and multi-day passes. More as soon as it's available.

If you have read the very good article the La Crosse Independent about the economics of PERMANENT FARE-FREE BUSES, please do. This is something more and more communities are doing and there are lots of benefits to consider.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Talking Transportation

On Thursday, October 8 at 6:30 p.m., the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation will host its next transportation-related webinar. Join us ONLINE for a talk about WHY TRANSPORTATION MATTERS: Communicating with decision-makers. 

"Get advice from a local politician on what works and how to communicate, hear personal stories from.transportation advocates around the state, and learn to tell your own story."

RSVP at this link for access information including alternate access options.


Due to the pandemic and restrictions on the size of meetings, the WisARP (Wisconsin Association of Rail Passengers) fall meeting will be held as a Zoom videoconference. The meeting will be October 24th, from 9:00 am until Noon, or 10:00 am until 1:00 pm, depending on speaker availability. IMPORTANT: Please let me know immediately if you plan to attend. The Zoom license has a participation limit and we need to know if we will need to increase that limit. Thanks. 

Mark Weitenbeck

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Good news! New buses!

Great news released today!! La Crosse applied for 2 Hybrid buses late last year and today received notification approving these buses! More details will be available at the October MTU Board meeting.

The hybrids are Diesel/ Electric. The bus runs electric until it gets to a certain speed where the diesel kicks in.  During the time of the diesel engine running the batteries are recharging.  

Gov. Evers, WisDOT, DOA Announce $18 Million in Public Transit Grants for Wisconsin Communities

Grants will enable Beloit, Wausau, Sheboygan, Madison, Eau Claire, Racine, Green Bay, and La Crosse to purchase a total of 34 public transit buses

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, together with Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Secretary-designee Craig Thompson and Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary Joel Brennan, today announced $18 million in public transit grants for Wisconsin communities.  

“Wisconsinites from Beloit to Eau Claire depend on reliable public transit systems for everything from getting to work or school safely, visiting the doctor, and everyday things like grabbing groceries,” said Gov. Evers. “It is not only a more sustainable form of travel, but it is also an economic driver, and this critical investment will support communities across our state.” 

The grants are part of the second round of State of Wisconsin Transit Capital Assistance Grants made possible through the Volkswagen Mitigation Program and will enable the transit systems in Beloit, Wausau, Sheboygan, Madison, Eau Claire, Racine, Green Bay, and La Crosse to purchase a total of 34 public transit buses. A complete list of grants can be found here.

This is a much needed boost to capital investment in our public transit systems, investments that will increase fleet performance and reduce maintenance costs,” said WisDOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson.

“We know that reliable transportation is critical for many Wisconsinites,” said DOA Secretary Brennan. “I am proud we can support these communities by investing in their public transportation efforts through these grants.

A Wisconsin Supreme Court decision earlier this year overturned the governor’s veto authorizing a $10 million grant program for electric vehicle charging station infrastructure. The decision did not affect capital transit grants. 
The first round of Transit Capital Assistance Grants was competitively awarded in 2019, providing $32 million of Volkswagen funds to 10 communities to replace 58 eligible public transit buses. The DOA negotiates the final grant amounts and specific bus replacement plans with the local transit systems.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Envision our (public transportation) future

Here is an opportunity to participate in imagining what a future downtown La Crosse might look like and especially how public transportation might fit into it. 

If you live in, work in, or visit downtown La Crosse, this news story will link you to a survey.

In addition, the La Crosse Area Planning Commission is working on its TRANSPORTATION PLAN FOR THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS.

From the LAPC planner:

We will be holding a public input opportunity for our draft metropolitan transportation plan, Beyond Coulee Vision 2040, during the meeting of our Technical Advisory Committee scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on September 9, 2020.

Due to COVID-19 the meeting will be held remotely via TEAMS and/or teleconference call. The agenda and remote participation information are attached and provided below:

1.       Approval of Minutes of the July 15, 2020 Meeting.
2.       Recommendation to approve amending the 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program.
3.       Recommendation to approve the 2021-2024 Transportation Improvement Program Minnesota Project List.
4.       The La Crosse Area Planning Committee Title VI / Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Plan. (action possible)
5.       Public Meeting for Update of La Crosse Area Planning Committee Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Beyond Coulee Vision 2040. (link to draft plan full draft document)
6.       Other updates and information items.
7.       October 2020 agenda items:
  • 2021-2024 TIP
8.       Other business; Adjourn; Next meeting to be announced.

Option 1: Use the link below to join the TEAMS meeting on your desktop/laptop/phone to stream audio, video or both.  If you do not have TEAMS on your desktop/laptop/phone, after you activate the link “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting” you will have to follow several prompts to join the meeting.
Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

Option 2: Join by phone (audio only): 1-262-683-8845, and enter 148472849# at the prompt
+1 262-683-8845   United States, Kenosha (Toll)
Conference ID: 148 472 849#

If you need assistance participating in this meeting, please contact me as soon as you can.

Thank you for your continued interest and participation.

Jackie Eastwood
Transportation Planner
La Crosse Area Planning Committee
Metropolitan Planning Organization
212 6th St N, Room 1200
La Crosse Wi  54601
608.785.6141 or 608.792.0520 (cell)

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

CMRT Webinar - Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

The Coalition for More Responsible Transportation (CMRT), a statewide group of groups including the Sierra Club, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, WISPIRG, Wisconsin Transit Riders Alliance, and more has been holding transportation webinars over the summer that look at different issues around public transportation.

The next webinar is this Thursday, August 6 at 6:30 p.m. ONLINE. The discussion will be about college campuses as hubs for car-free transportation. Guest speakers will include the UW-Madison transportation manager, a college student, and (we think) MTU manager, Adam Lorentz.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Tell your "Transit is Essential" story!

from Green for All

Hello all,

I hope you are well. My name is Nicole Wong and I am a Campaign Manager with Green For All, a program of the national social justice nonprofit Dream Corps.

We recently released a report, entitled Securing Safe Transit: Before & After COVID-19, which offers insights from transit justice groups, labor unions, and transit agencies across the country about the needs and challenges riders and workers continue to face. It includes specific policy recommendations that transit agencies can adopt to ensure the health and safety of their riders and workers while maintaining reliable, affordable, and equitable services now and into the future. In order to continue building public awareness and pressure for their adoption, I want to share two ways to get involved this week. We would greatly appreciate your support in helping to spread the word. 

#TransitIsEssential Social Media Storytelling Campaign
Starting today, we are launching our social media and storytelling campaign to uplift the voices of transit riders and workers, draw attention to the critical issue of transportation, and place pressure on Senators to pass adequate funding to get transit agencies through fiscal year 2021.

1. We will be posting audio recordings of directly impacted transit riders and workers throughout the week. Please give these heartfelt stories a listen and share widely:

2. We are also asking partners and transit riders and workers to post a picture of themselves on social media holding a sign that says "#transitisessential because_____" with their answer.

Can you please help uplift this message by posting on your social media channels and sharing this photo campaign with your networks? You can find our social media toolkit with instructions, graphics, and draft posts here.

Transit Equity Town Hall
This Thursday, we will be hosting a Transit Equity Town Hall in which transit equity leaders across the country will discuss why transit is essential to building racial and economic equity and how transit agencies can continue to center equity in their transportation decisions in response to COVID-19. We hope you will be able to join us!

Can you please share this event with your communities? You can use our amplification toolkit here that includes a draft email, draft social posts, relevant hashtags, and more.

What: Transit Equity Town Hall: Mobility, Race, and the Economy
When: Thursday, July 16th at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET
RSVP: Please RSVP using this link here

Event Description:

People of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by poverty, pollution, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These interrelated crises are all rapidly accelerating and the policies implemented today will have ripple effects for years to come. This Town Hall will explore the crucial link between racial equity, economic equity, and transit equity. Panelists will also discuss how transit agencies and policymakers can incorporate equity into decisions about service delivery, fare programs, community engagement, and funding to improve access and affordability for transit dependent riders now and after COVID-19.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Governor's Climate Task Force public hearings

The Governor's Task Force on Climate Change public hearings start this week!

Late last year, Governor Evers issued an Executive Order to commit the state to going to 100% clean energy and created a Task Force on Climate Change to create the plan to get there.

Now the Task Force is hosting five hearings to get input on the plan. You can read more about the subcommittees and their work here:

You nay note TRANSPORTATION is not mentioned in the subcommittee titles. But it's a very important issue in the work to avert a climate crisis. That's why transit advocates' voices a

Sign up to attend a hearing to call for a bold, ambitious plan to stop climate change. Hearings will be on: June 23, June 27, July 7, July 9, and July 15

Looking for tips to testify and want help crafting your testimony? The John Muir Chapter Sierra Club is hosting a prep webinar. Register for the Thursday, June 25 at 7:00 p.m. session at this link.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Beyond Coulee Vision 2040 - your input invited

There will be a public input session in August. In the meantime, check through these draft chapters and submit comments if you wish. More details at

Beyond Coulee Vision 2040 (BCV2040)
Please note that internal document links will not work if they reference a different chapter. All links will work when the full draft document is completed and posted.
Draft Chapter 2: Plan Process and DevelopmentUdpated June 18, 2020
Draft Chapter 3: Population and Economic TrendsUpdated June 18, 2020
Draft Chapter 4: Transportation Systems & ServicesUpdated June 18, 2020
Draft Chapter 6: Planning, Project, and Policy Strategies
Draft Chapter 7: Environmental & Cultural Impacts
Draft Chapter 8: Financial Plan
Draft Chapter 9: Next Steps and Future Considerations
Draft Appendix A CRTS StrategiesNew June 18, 2020
Draft Appendix B Summary of Member ReportingNew June 18, 2020
Draft Appendix C Local Comprehensive Plan ReviewsNew June 18, 2020
Draft Appendix D Environmental Justice AnalysisNew June 18, 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020

New group: Wisconsin Non-Driver Advisory Council

The WI Non-Driver Advisory Council will hold its first meeting this week, Wednesday and Thursday, June 17 & 18 from 9:00 to 12:30. The public is invited to attend via YouTube.

The purpose of this council is to increase coordination to the varying programs that serve those who cannot or choose not to drive to enhance our experiences of getting to where we need to go on our schedules. The council’s membership includes state agencies, municipalities, nonprofits and coalitions/alliances who play an active role in transportation issues throughout the state. 

The council is co-chaired by Aileen Schweitzer, Administrator of WisDOT’s Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives, Tami Jackson with the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and transportaiton lead for the Survival Coalition of WI Disability Groups and me. Members of this coalition, including 1K Friends of Wisconsin and WI Transit Riders Alliance have been invited to serve as members.

Day One focuses on the experiences of those who cannons or choose not to drive , so that we keep the needs of people at the center of our work. After opening comments from WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson and the three committee chairs, there will be a panel, focused on this topic with perspectives from around the state. Survey results about the needs of non-drivers will also be shared.

Day Two hones in on the different agency programs. The work of that day will be to generate recommendations that keep the non-driver at the center.

Each day will begin with a panel and then will move into small group work and return with recommendations from the group work. The YouTube broadcast will include the panels and the large group recommendation shares. The small group work will not be broadcast.

Please consider joining us.


Denise Jess
CEO/Executive Director
Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired
754 Williamson Street
Madison, WI 53703
608-237-8103 - Direct

Friday, June 12, 2020

CMRT - Online learning and discussion

The Coalition for More Responsible Transportation is a Wisconsin group made up of many Wisconsin transit, bike/ped, disability rights, and environment groups and individuals. LATA is a member of the Wisconsin Transit Riders Alliance which is a member of CMRT

CMRT is hosting a aeries of webinars this summer around transportation issues. Check out the schedule and plan to attend. And consider joining La Crosse Area Transit Advocate to support a bigger statewide voice.

How Wisconsin Communities are Meeting the "Last Mile Challenge"
Thursday, June 18 at 6:30 PM
Join us as we explore how transit systems in several Wisconsin communities are addressing the "Last Mile Challenge," or the challenge of completing the last segment of a transit trip in order to reach one's final destination. Speakers include transportation expert/former Madison alder and planner Robbie Webber, La Crosse transit advocate Cathy Van Maren, Fox Cities transit advocate Connie Kanitz, and Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance leaders Mark Quam and Phil Swanhorst (who also took the lead in organizing this webinar -- thank you Mark and Phil!). Advance registration required here.

Transportation and Racial Justice
Thursday, July 9 at 6:30 PM
This webinar will focus on the intersection of transportation and racial (in)justice in Wisconsin. We will have more information on speakers and the topics they'll cover soon. Meanwhile, you're welcome to register here

Please note: If you're unable to use the Google Forms linked above to register or would prefer to call in your RSVP, please contact the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired at (608) 255-1166 from 8 AM to 3 PM on weekdays and we will register you for either webinar by phone.

Finally, if you weren't able to attend our first two webinars, you can view the recordings at the links below:

Monday, June 1, 2020

COVID-19 and public transportation

Recent CDC guidance that encouraged people to NOT use public transportation has received strong and immediate pushback from transit, social justice, and environmental groups. This note recently came our way, 

Good news. I reached out to a long-time friend and colleague at the CDC who is an expert in active transportation and health and he did some heavy lifting this weekend, buoyed by NACTO and APTA's statements on Friday. We are encouraged to provide feedback via this e-mail:

The guidance has been updated to say...

For employees who commute to work using public transportation or ride sharing, consider offering the following support:
  • If feasible, offer employees incentives to use forms of transportation that minimize close contact with others (e.g., biking, walking, driving or riding by car either alone or with household members).
  • Ask employees to follow the CDC guidance on how to protect yourself when using transportation.
  • Allow employees to shift their hours so they can commute during less busy times.
  • Ask employees to clean their hands as soon as possible after their trip.
To be sure, COVID-19 has made the use of public transportation difficult. We know that the virus spreads by air, so wearing a mask to protect others from your possible infection (many people are infected but have no symptoms) and sitting as far as possible from others helps. Also, now that the weather has warmed, opening windows where we are sitting will help disperse virus particles in the air. 

But we cannot give up on public transportation! Not only is it efficient, less polluting, and more economical, it is also a major tool in the fight to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Consider joining La Crosse Area Transit Advocates! You will also become a member of the Wisconsin Transit Riders Alliance and be connected to Wisconsin's Coalition for More Responsible Transportation

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

National Get On Board Day - April 16

National GET ON BOARD DAY is Thursday, April 16. On this day we thank the drivers and staff of public transportation systems; recognize the vital function public transportation plays in moving people to work, school, shopping, and appointments; and appreciate the vital role public transit plays in reducing transportation-related emissions.

This year because of stay at home orders, we can't have a big party, but we still want to show appreciation for those frontline workers who are making sure people can get to work, get groceries, and to important appointments. So, we encourage you to print out this graphic and take it to the bus stop near you when the bus will come by on Thursday, April 16 and wave to the driver to show your appreciation. If you want to write a letter to the editor or send a message of thanks via the MTU or SMRT Facebook pages or email OHWS Transit, do that, too!

We will hope to do something bigger when we are again able to gather and celebrate together. Please participate if you can! Here's the link to a PRINTABLE .PDF. Or click the graphic below to get a social media friendly graphic.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Complete the parking survey

And be sure to mention the disparity between spending on providing parking and spending on providing public transportation.

Please Complete City Parking Survey
A parking study is being conducted for the City of La Crosse.  To provide information for this study, La Crosse neighborhood residents are invited to complete the following online surveys:
Downtown Business Owners:

Downtown Employees:

Downtown Customers/Visitors:

All Area Residents:

Monday, February 10, 2020

Rail Passengers meeting in March

Registration for the WisARP Spring Meeting in La Crosse on March 28th is now open. You can register online at

If you live in the La Crosse area and you can't make it for the whole meeting, just come when you can at no charge. Just let me know that you will be coming. We are making the push to get the second Chicago-Twin Cities train.

Mark Weitenbeck 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Parking Study Open House - Jan. 29

The city is doing another parking study focussing on certain areas that have lots of cars parked on streets by Mayo, Gundersen, UWL, etc. There will be an open house on Wednesday, January 29 in the 3rd floor conference room of City Hall to hear from citizens about parking issues. One session is 9 to 10:30 a'm. and one is 4 to 6 p.m. 

Those of us who ride buses, whether it's our primary mode of transportation or whether we are 'choice' riders who also drive cars, should be in on this discussion. The cost of city parking infrastructure, maintenance, and enforcement is shared by all city residents whether or not they have or drive cars. The money that supports this parking system is money that might be better and more fairly spent improving our public transportation that is available and useable by all. The fines that are being used to control who parks where should be used, if there are to be fines, in improving the public transportation in these areas so fewer people will feel or have the need to drive and park there.

Many cities are reducing parking requirements and prohibiting parking in city centers. For a wonderful example of a brilliant many-dimensional solution to a many-dimensional situation, including parking, see At the meeting point of increasing car traffic, increasing carbon emissions, increased dangerous air quality, and increased traffic deaths, comes the realization that the cost of continuing to worship cars is becoming too expensive. Our city recently committed to reducing carbon emissions in our community. Will a new parking plan take that important goal into account?

Attend the open house and give your opinion please!

We have not met in forever! I hope this year we can have at least three big meetings per year and a monthly meeting of a steering committee. We are working to schedule a big meeting in February which will include a time to talk with MTU head, Adam Lorentz, and a real membership drive. As an institutional member of the Wisconsin Transit Riders' Alliance, LATA owes dues every year. This year, we will hope members can share in paying those dues and our meeting expenses.

Watch this space for our meeting date and email me if you would like to be part of a regular steering committee (subject to board approval).