No need for streetcars

Image by Brian JacobsonWhy are Milwaukee residents being asked to duplicate transit services already provided by the county and MCTS?  Why does the city of Milwaukee need to have its own little transit system that duplicates MCTS routes and isn’t as flexible and responsive as the current bus service? When will this battle of one-upmanship between the county and the city end?

Tom Barrett got a present last week as the Milwaukee Connector Study Group voted 3-1 to move ahead with an engineering study on the creation of a streetcar loop encompassing the Third Ward and East Town.

The only opposition to the plan came from Brian Dranzik, administration director for the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation and Public Works. He stated that streetcars would steal riders and transportation aid from MCTS, a position shared by his boss, County Executive Scott Walker.

That position was challenged by Milwaukee Public Works Commissioner Jeff Mantes, who said streetcar systems in other cities boosted ridership on public buses, rather than competing with them. Alderman Bob Bauman, who represents the most of the area included in the streetcar plan, said the streetcar wouldn’t duplicate existing bus routes and that it wouldn’t be in direct competition with MCTS for state transit aid.

Proponents of the streetcar say it will provide a connection between the Intermodal Station, the Bradley Center, East Town restaurants and Third Ward venue that currently doesn’t exist. A recent article mentioned other pluses for streetcars:  they’re touris- friendly, retail development will follow it, they add vitality and innovation, they can transport people from point A to B without transfers, the tax base within a ¼ of the streetcar line will grow by $3.35 billion in 20 years, it will connect the downtown with other areas of the city and it has the “it” factor.

Wow, what about solving global warming and promoting world peace?

All of these arguments can be countered with one word – buses. Currently, MCTS has multiple routes that run through and around East Town and the Third Ward. There is even a bus route, the 57, that stops right in front of the Intermodal Station. Sure you have to transfer to other routes if your final destination isn’t 92nd and Hampton, but you would have


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