June 10, 2010 Racine Taxpayers Association Letter to Editor Racine Journal Times
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) chief Peter Rogoff's speech on May 18, 2010, hits home with the KRM debate. Following are some of his remarks:
- We have a $50 billion shortfall to bring 7 largest rail systems to state of good repair (SGR). - We have a $78 billion shortfall to bring all 690 separate rail and bus systems to SGR. - 75% of SGR shortfall is rail transit systems, yet majority of transit trips are by bus. - Solution to problem is honesty and political guts to say no. - Get Real and Get Honest with the high cost of rail vs. bus. - With signal pre-emption, buses can move a lot of people at very little cost compared to rail. - Bus Rapid Transit is a fine fit for a lot more communities than are seriously considering it. - Some communities are tempted to pay the extra cost of shiny new rails now, but must be mindful of costs they are teeing up for future generations. - If you can't afford to operate the system you have, why does it make sense for us to partner in your expansion? - Are we at risk of just helping communities dig a deeper hole for our children and grandchildren? - Taking a cold look at the facts might mean spending money on the unglamorous but absolutely vital work of repairing and improving our current system.
January 12, 2010
The Racine Taxpayers Association continues to oppose the use of public funds for KRM commuter rail.We also opposed the legislative creation of the S.E. Regional Transit Authority (SERTA) to start the KRM construction process in 2010 and eventually take total control of all transit operations in S.E. Wisconsin.
Legislation currently being written will authorize .5% sales tax and give total fiscal control of regional and local transit to the unelected SERTA board.We believe this direction is not in the best interest of Racine County taxpayers and urge you to stop this process.
A significant amount of money has been spent promoting the economic development, job growth and increased property values that will come with commuter rail.However, SEWRPC’s own studies call this “potential growth” and states 75% of the jobs and up to 80% of the development would still occur without commuter rail.
Richard Reich, Don Phillips and Dennis Kisley
The passenger numbers are also suspect.Promotional data for KRM shows daily rides at 7,392 generating annual revenues of $4.6 million. The Ridership Forecasting Report considers the KRM Corridor to be 21 stops from Milwaukee to Braeside, Illinois.and the 7,392 number is for the entire corridor in year 2035.The Report projects current ridership at the nine Wisconsin stations would be about 3,000, increasing to 4,500 in the year 2035.
The only certainty is that the operating and amortized capital costs of KRM will be in excess of $30 million per year.The need for federal., state and local tax dollars will be great.Amtrak High Speed Rail from Milwaukee to Madison has already been submitted for $651.8 million with an additional $47 million to increase daily Milwaukee to Chicago trips from 14 to 20.This means more Racine riders on Amtrak and more yearly tax dollars for Amtrak.
Would this be good for Milwaukee County? – probably.MCTS is virtually bankrupt and they need additional funds wherever they can get them.They control the SERTA Board with 5 of 9 members and they collect themajority of the car rental tax.Racine BUS will lose the current $4.3 million state/ fed assistance and the direction of regional transit would be dictated by Milwaukee.
The increasing availability of public funds (free money?) is very questionable and they must be used wisely.Expanding current, and bringing new business to Racine County for Racine County residents is the number one priority for these resources.KRM and Milwaukee directed transit will not do it.Racine County is expanding west and Amtrak is serving that area.An improved, flexible transit system for the entire county, with more private funds and participation should be the top priority.
To assist in making a decision, we request that you do the following:
- Ask RCEDC for a statement regarding the importance of commuter rail in their search for new businesses.
- Ask RAMAC for a statement regarding how many new jobs current employers commit to add with KRM.
- Ask SERTA for current KRM ridership projections and facts to back it up.
- Ask the people if they want KRM via referendum
In closing we add the following anecdotes:
- Downtown Racine to O’Hare Field is 65 miles and 80-90 minutes by car.KRM is 3 hours, 2 trains & 2 cabs.
- Case/IH to CNH Global, Burr Ridge, IL is 80.5 miles and 90-100 minutes by car.KRM is 3 ˝ hours, 3 trains, 3 cabs.
January 15, 2009
At its regular board meeting the RTA Board of Directors adopted the following position regards KRM
After reviewing all available information, the Racine Taxpayers Association has taken the position that no taxpayer funds should be used in the introduction or support of KRM.
March 13, 2007
After much discussion of commuter rail the motion to support KRM was brought to a vote and the members voted 12-12. So no further action was taken by the RTA regarding support of KRM for nearly two years.
February 13, 2007
After nearly four years of inactivity on the issue of commuter rail, the RTA revived the issue at its February board meeting. Jim Morrison presented a resolution for KRM commuter rail that was seconded by Earl Christianson. After discussion the motion was deferred until our March member meeting.
March 11, 2003
Rosemary Potter for Transit NOW made a presentation at the Racine Taxpayers Association member meeting explaining the plans for a commuter rail system connecting the Kenosha Metra with Milwaukee.
The members greeted the plan affirmatively. Several members who had some previous knowledge of commuter rail insisted that we needed to learn more about the possibilities and ramifications. After much discussion the membership agreed that the Association would endorse the concept of commuter rail. But would not endorse the plan until more answers were forthcoming.