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.
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
* 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