As a public service announcement, we would like to remind everyone that is planning on going out to ring in the New Year that once again, for the 22nd year, Miller-Coors will be sponsoring free bus rides on New Years Eve:
This also will be the 22nd New Year’s Eve that MillerCoors or its predecessor, Miller Brewing Co., have paid for free rides on Milwaukee County buses, and the 16th year of free riding on Waukesha and Madison buses, as a way to deter drunken driving. The brewery’s program, now dubbed Miller Lite Free Rides, includes:
Milwaukee County: Free rides start at 8 p.m. Thursday on all 30 regular Milwaukee County bus routes that offer evening service. Most routes will stop running at their regular ending times, but 13 major routes will extend service until 4 a.m. Friday. Transit Plus vans also will offer free service for disabled riders.
Unfortunately, right on the heels of the celebrations, yet another year of Scott Walker charging bus riders more for less service takes effect (emphasis mine):
Under the 2010 budget adopted by the County Board last month, regular adult cash fare on Milwaukee County buses will rise from $2 to $2.25 on Sunday. Also that day, fares will increase from $1 to $1.10 for riders who are ages 6 to 11, older than 64 or disabled. On Monday, Freeway Flyer fares rise from $3 to $3.25.
Rates will increase for bus passes and sheets of 10 tickets, starting with those going on sale Wednesday. Regular adult weekly passes and ticket sheets rise from $16.50 to $17.50; ticket sheets for children, older adults and the disabled increase from $10 to $11; Flyer ticket sheets rise from $22.50 to $23.50; and monthly passes increase from $60 to $64. The transit system will still honor tickets purchased at old rates.
Also next week, service will be cut back on three routes, shortening two routes and reducing the frequency of weekday service on Route 33 (Vliet St.). The changes will chop off the Howard Ave. branch of Route 14 (Forest Home Ave.-Howard Ave.), which will be renamed Route 14 (Forest Home Ave.) and eliminate weekday-only service on Route 35 (35th St.) from S. 35th St. to Southridge Mall in Greendale.
In a different kind of service reduction, the county is eliminating the jobs of the customer service telephone operators who provide live assistance to riders seeking information about bus routes and schedules. Starting Friday, that information will be available only through automated messages on the Bus Line, (414) 344-6711, or through the transit system’s Web site, www.ride mcts.com.
Next year will be the 10th consecutive year that the county has raised bus fares, cut service or both, in the face of pressure to hold down property tax support. Planners have warned the bus system will face a massive service cut without new state or local revenue, but state officials have not agreed on how to pay for public transit.
This only shows the importance that the state legislature act immediately upon their return in January to allow Milwaukee County to pass the sales tax that the citizens of Milwaukee County have been calling for over the past fourteen months.
It is also interesting on how the paper points out that the rate hikes and route cuts are the Board’s decision, without mention Scott Walker’s role in it, or the fact that things would be much, much worse if the Board hadn’t intervened and minimized the damage Walker would have done to our regional economy if he was allowed to have his way completely.