Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Council Backs Electric Bus System

The Milwaukee Common Council today voted nine-to-six to endorse a three-hundred million (according to estimates which of course are ALWAYS accurate) guided electric bus system called the ‘Milwaukee Connector’ system. For those of you who do not know what this is, think of the inane light-rail system that was thankfully blocked by Waukesha County not too long ago only slightly modified. Except here’s the kicker – Alderman Bob Bauman, the man who spearheaded the light-rail effort, voted ‘no’ on the proposal and even penned an editorial this past Sunday arguing against the system.

The Journal Sentinel says that the ‘action now heads to the desk of Mayor Tom Barrett, who has not said whether he will sign it’. My guess however is that he will given his ‘excellent’ consumer track record (note the emphasis on ‘excellent’ carefully). Plus it makes it appear as though he is actually accomplishing something.

I opposed the light-rail system and I oppose this slightly modified version dubbed the ‘Milwaukee Connector’ system for several reasons. This thirteen-mile long spite-shined trolley system (that’s what it basically is – we are digressing from bus transportation to good ol’ fashion trolleys which Milwaukee got rid a long time ago – Yes, Milwaukee did once have a trolley system) will have three routes, each requiring its own lane of traffic. Let’s forget for a moment what this will be like when it is fully operational – a mess – imagine the construction. It is bad enough with the Marquette Interchange torn up now as it is and now they want to take away an entire lane of traffic so they can tear up the road and lay down the track. And some of the streets the city plans on using the run the ‘Milwaukee Commuter’ system are one-way streets and will have to be expanded to two lanes with one entirely devoted to the ‘Commuter’ system. Now think about what this will be like when it is fully operational. Since these electric buses will be guided by a wire hanging over the city streets (talk about an eye-sore, not to mention a safety hazard) they will not be able to maneuver outside of the tracks they are placed on. There is no way for them to avoid accidents should one occur (and it is highly probable that they will happen). And do you think people stuck in traffic are going to be happy with an entire lane of traffic being occupied by this transportation system? I don’t think so. There are going to be stupid people out there who will travel in the lane designated for the electric buses, causing delays for public commuters as well as potential accidents. Proponents of the ‘Milwaukee Connector’ insist that the federal government will pay for eighty-percent of the costs. However, this still leaves twenty-percent or sixty-million dollars for the city to pay for just the construction costs. At least forty-million dollars will be borrowed from the state (which will then have to be paid back with interest), but still property taxes will be increased because of this. On top of that, operating costs are expected to increase two-million dollars annually because of this measure. And do we even know if this think will be operational during the winter? The tracks are going to be frozen with ice, not to mention the guide-wires used to run the trolleys.

There may be some hope however, “County Executive Scott Walker has said he is likely to veto that measure”. But, sadly, the measure “passed with enough votes to override a veto”.

Please, contact the following Common Council members who voted in favor of the measure and request that they change their vote …

Common Council President Willie Hines
Aldermen Mike D'Amato
Joe Davis
Ashanti Hamilton
Michael McGee
Michael Murphy
Jim Witkowiak
Terry Witkowski
T. Anthony Zielinski