Madison – Community leaders are stepping forward in support of the regional transportation plan outlined earlier this week by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. The plan is a comprehensive vision for the region’s roads, commuter rail, Metro Transit bus, bicycle, and paratransit systems.
“Our region’s future growth demands transportation choices. We cannot all expect to drive the same roads at the same time and provide no alternatives,” said Dick Wagner, member of the Transport 2020 Implementation Task Force and former Chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors. “With foresight, we have preserved our rail corridors in the region for our future transportation needs. Those future needs now face us, and it is time to begin to have rail transit as part of our choice as we grow.”
“We have 41,000 students and 16,000 employees, so establishing a comprehensive transportation plan is essential to easing traffic congestion and moving people to and from campus more efficiently,” said UW-Madison Chancellor John D. Wiley. “A clear vision on transportation issues will strengthen the campus’ connection to the city and the broader Dane County community.”
“Making transportation a regional initiative reflects the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau’s approach to promoting the destination. Therefore, we applaud this move toward a regional, collaborative solution to transportation; an asset that we’ve identified as critical to our community’s success,” said Deb Archer, President & CEO of the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The proposal would create a countywide Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to fund and govern the improvements. Creation of the RTA is subject to approval of authorizing legislation from the state, and approval by voters in a countywide referendum. The RTA would fund the transportation improvements with a half-cent sales tax.
“Bikes, trains, buses, and cars – with the RTA, all modes of transportation will get their fair share,” said Jay Ferm, Advocacy Coordinator of Planet Bike and Co-Chair of the Madison Platinum Bike Planning Committee. “Shifting funding for transit from the property tax to a sales tax will help ease the property tax squeeze being felt by Madison and Dane County homeowners. How often do we get a chance to clean up the environment and lower property taxes at the same time? This makes sense at many levels. The ½ cent sales tax is a great investment in our post-oil future.”
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“DMI believes that commuter rail services are essential to support the future growth of the Madison metropolitan area, and to encourage Dane County residents to visit, work, and live in downtown Madison,” said Downtown Madison, Inc. President Susan Schmitz. “We recognize that transportation issues are a regional problem and require a regional solution.”
“This agreement will lay the groundwork for an expansion of Madison Metro Transit bus service both within the city and to surrounding communities,” said Gene Gowey, Business Representative of Teamsters Local 695. “Funding and planning for transit regionally will lead to good-paying jobs, solid workforce transportation, and a strong economy.”
The RTA would address the transportation challenges of the region by providing funding for the following improvements:
- 25% of the revenue would be for road maintenance for towns, villages, and cities throughout Dane County;
- 25% to support bus service for Madison and surrounding communities
- 33% to support a commuter rail system
- 16% for rail and bus enhancements, county-wide paratransit, and bicycle transit
“Transit users will, at long last, have the stable base of funding they need for continued quality service,” said Steve Hiniker, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. “By funding a balanced system of buses, bike routes, road maintenance, and rail options, the RTA will help the Madison area grapple with growing transportation demand.”
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