If there’s one region in the country that desperately needs better transit, it’s Milwaukee. And there are a ton of places that badly need better transit.
The notoriously segregated Milwaukee region lacks strong transit connections between the city and growing suburban job centers. About 47 percent of the region’s African American population, mostly concentrated in a few Milwaukee neighborhoods, lacks driver’s licenses. Among African Americans living in the city of Milwaukee, the unemployment rate is a staggering 24 percent.
Jeramey Jannene at Urban Milwaukee writes that the region has wrangled the funding to expand transit service with four new frequently running express routes, despite a lack of political support from high places:
Funding for the express new routes comes from a $17 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant that provides operating support through 2017. A prior CMAQ grant funded the Blue, Green and Red lines that began service in 2012. The new Route 61 will be funded in part by the financial settlement of the suit by the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope and Black Health Coalition of Wisocnsin against the Wisconsin Department of Transportation which argued that it discriminated against minorities for spending so much money on the Zoo Interchange project and doing little for transportation of urban minority residents who depend on bus transit.
The new express routes will achieve speed gains primarily by stopping once every quarter mile where there is no underlying service (such as the western end of GoldLine Wisconsin – UWM Express route where Route 10 service will be eliminated), and once every half mile where there is underlying service (such as the PuprleLine with the existing Route 27). Today’s bus service generally stops once every two blocks or eighth of a mile.
But in a few years, writes Jannene, the funding will run out: