Milwaukee is ranked higher than many larger communities including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and San Diego.

A new study says the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) is head and shoulders above many major US cities in getting people to work. The recently released study from the University of Minnesota, “Access Across America: Transit 2015,” ranks Milwaukee as 13th in accessibility to jobs by transit.

“This report confirms what many of us have known for years, access to transit in Milwaukee County is central to economic development,” said County Executive Chris Abele. “That’s why for the past six years I’ve prioritized investments in our transit system and proposed a new source of dedicating funding. Every day MCTS gets thousands of people to and from work across Milwaukee County and we’re looking to improve that service every day with new and better technology. In order to maintain this progress, and keep employers and workers connected in all corners of the county, Milwaukee County must have access to the resources we need.”

The “Access Across America” report ranked metropolitan areas on how quickly riders can get to jobs using transit. According to the findings, people across Milwaukee County have access to more than 22,000 jobs in just a 30-minute bus ride. If you ride MCTS for 40 minutes that increases your access to 65,000 jobs.

The report also lays out a path to improving access to jobs – increase bus frequency, especially in job corridors. MCTS is currently examining a regional 9-mile Bus Rapid Transit line that serves the largest employment centers in the area. The transit system is also looking at improving other routes across the county.

Unfortunately, a proposal circulating in the state legislature would, if passed, force an immediate $7 million loss in revenue in 2017 and a $16 million annual loss in revenue going forward. This could impact the County’s ability to proceed with Bus Rapid Transit on schedule and would force other difficult decisions that would jeopardize the County’s ability to serve our workforce.

The County would have to consider serious changes, including a combination of raising bus fares, reducing paratransit service to the federal minimum levels, eliminating flyer service to SummerFest, State Fair, and other festivals, eliminating bus service to suburban public schools such as those in Cudahy and Wauwatosa; and eliminating JobLines routes that connect workers with employers.

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Lee Matz