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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Gov. Doyle unveils Southeast Wisconsin regional transit proposal

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Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle revealed a framework of a proposal crafted with legislators from southeastern Wisconsin on a plan to improve bus and rail service in Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine through a Regional Transit Authority, according to The Business Journal of Milwaukee. The proposal would give Milwaukee County the authority to raise local sales taxes by 0.5 percent to fund local transit and a commuter rail line.


"Investing in safe, reliable modes of transportation allows people to travel and commute efficiently and it strengthens the economy," Doyle said. "I am pleased today to announce that leaders from Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine have joined me in support of a truly regional approach to improving and expanding transit in this area."

Doyle has supported Regional Transit Authorities in Wisconsin that serve a population base, rather than any specific municipal jurisdiction, and are independently governed. Under the governor's priorities, RTAs also should provide property tax relief and be focused solely on transit.

The current proposal satisfies those conditions and will create an RTA in southeastern Wisconsin that would phase in independent governance. Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine would initially operate as sub-RTAs, with varying sources of previously approved funding. Over time, the sub-RTAs would merge into a common board, with regional representation proportional to population. A primary goal of the RTA would be to better position the proposed Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line for obtaining New Starts funding from the Federal Transit Administration.