At Monday afternoon’s Transit Commission, Ron Iwen, transit director, and other members of the Transit Department heard from the public on their views on the proposed streetcar expansion. The city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) includes $10.2 million for the proposed expansion of the streetcar over the next two years. The project, which would have all but $2 million of its costs covered by federal funding, could extend the streetcar through downtown with a track going south on Eighth Avenue and north on Sixth Avenue from 50th Street to Library Park.
Several people were concerned about traffic congestion and traffic jams which might be caused by the slow movement of the streetcars in the traffic lane of the street. Iwen said that “mass transit hauls more people faster than cars. At Bradford High School, it took 68 seconds to dump 70 students. This will not cause congestion.”
At this afternoon’s Transit Commission, the commissioners decided to defer action on the fare increase to the next meeting. Next Tuesday and Wednesday night, the Common Council will conduct their final budget hearings. The commission wanted to wait and see what was approved at those meetings first.
There were several members of the public who spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting. Several were from the Congregations United to Support Humanity (CUSH), a couple were residents of Library Park, and another was a resident/business owner in the downtown area. They wanted to know how much it would cost to increase the Saturday bus service back to an hourly schedule, and transit director Ron Iwen said that it would cost approximately $90,000. Roughly 53.2% of that amount could come from state and Federal funding, leaving approximately $40,000 that would have to be paid by the city. The 2013 operating budget was submitted assuming the fare increases.
At the Finance Committee meeting on Monday night, which lasted almost five hours, the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) was unanimously approved, with a few amendments. At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman Daniel Prozanski stated that the review was going to be handled differently than it has in the past. They were not going to go through the 302-page document page by page. Committee members could instead make their amendments in an attempt to expedite the meeting.
Prozanski made motions for the following amendments:
- Strawberry Creek Park – Add $402,220 to the 2013 CIP by adding $201,110 in outside funding from grants and $201,110 in park impact fees, for a net of zero. Mayor Keith Bosman said that as soon as the drainage and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issues were taken care of, work would commence in 2013.
- Southport Park – Add $181,000 to the contingency line and add $181,000 in outside funding from grants and lakefront park impact fees, for a net of zero. This move makes $281,000 available for the Southport Park in 2013. Alderperson Rocco LaMacchia wanted to know if this move would impact other parks, and the reply was no.
Today, the Transit Department held two public hearings on the proposed bus fare increases. Only nine people attended the morning session, and three people attended the evening session. Most of the dialogue exchange discussed in this article happened at the morning session. Check our previous article for details on the proposed fare increases: Public Hearings on Bus Fare Increase.
Ron Iwen, transit director, said that no route changes are planned, just the rate increases. They are also proposing leaving the Saturday service the same as it is now. Currently, four buses run on Saturday. Iwen stated that the department experienced a loss of funding from the state last year.
There will be two public hearings next week on the proposed bus fare increases. They will be held on Wednesday, November 7th. The first will be from 8 to 9 am, and the second will be from 5 to 6 pm. Both will take place at the Kenosha Transit Building, 4303 – 39th Avenue.
The proposed rate increases are:
Adults: $1.50 to $1.75; Monthly Passes from $40 to $50;
Students: $0.75 to $1.25; Monthly Passes from $24 to $35;
Elderly and Handicapped: $0.70 to $1; Monthly Passes from $20 to $25.
If you can’t make it, but would like to make a comment, call (262) 653-4290, or e-mail: [email protected]
At yesterday’s Transit Commission meeting, Ron Iwen, transit director, asked the commission for their approval to go ahead and study the possibility of raising the bus fares in order to close the gap in the budget and to maintain current service. Thirty days is required for public comment and discussion. “If the fare increase gets approved, there will be no service cuts. If not, there will more than likely be service cuts,” said Iwen.
Iwen stated that, when the Saturday service cuts were being discussed, the public asked for fare increases so that cuts would not be needed. “We are the lowest out there. Madison, Cheboygan, Waukesha, Racine, and Milwaukee. We are not asking for a lot,” he said.
At tonight’s Transit Commission meeting, Ron Iwen, transportation director, gave the commission a brief update of the Saturday bus ridership. The graph that he distributed started with Saturday, January 7th, which showed a total of 428 passengers on the four Saturday bus routes. The following three Saturdays were in the 200 range (223 to 282); a possible reason given was the colder weather. On Saturday, February 4th, the ridership took an upturn, to 395, possibly due to the nicer weather. And the next two Saturdays showed a total in the 300 range (317, and 328, respectively). Click here to view this chart: Saturday Service. Iwen stated that this was more than he expected. At the next meeting, he promised to bring more details about the ridership.
Last year, with eleven buses on the road, there was a total of 1,100 to 1,200 riders on a typical Saturday. “These numbers could include half going to a destination, receiving a transfer, and then a return trip home,” he said.
From a press release issued by the village Tuesday:
The press release, linked to by Alderman Theodore Ruffalo’s Facebook page, says the routes effected include stops such as LakeView Corporate Park, the Shoppes at Prairie Ridge and St. Joseph Home for the Aged.