October 28, 2009

Common Sense: Notable comment on Racine County transit

Many comments on RacinePost.com's articles are quick bursts of emotion that respond to issues and stories on the surface. Others take a deeper look at issues. Common Sense highlights well-written, thoughtful comments on the blogs.

Graham wrote this comment on "County's transit plan is coming together":
If the powers-that-be want to really do something RIGHT for this county, expand the existing bus system to cover the entire county. Make it possible to get from Elmwood Park to Wind Lake, from Burlington to Crest View, from Racine to Waterford, etc., and do it with buses that burn clean LP gas (it’s cheaper than gasoline or diesel and emits almost no fumes as it burns 99% clean). Put the money where it's really needed and service the entire county. Kill the KRM nonsense; a single straight-line train isn't going to cover 1/100TH of the area the buses will and will cost two to three times more to subsidize.

The buses will truly stimulate the county economy. Example: a friend of mine could have had a job out near Hwy. 11 and I-94, but he couldn't get there because the bus goes no further than Wal-Mart. If the entire county had bus access to Racine, it could be a shot in the arm for the city, but all the KRM is going to do is take people out of Racine to spend their money in Milwaukee and Chicago. It isn't going to create any jobs in Racine and nothing is going to build up along noisy railroad tracks.

Also, go to smaller 20 – 30 passenger buses that burn less fuel. There is no need for huge 66 passenger buses to transport only a dozen people. Think of all the new drivers it will put to work, not to mention maintenance personnel. Sell monthly passes that are good county wide for a reasonable price and advertise and encourage the population to use it. Do that and you would have my support for adding a-half-a-cent to the existing sales tax.


  1. Well said. Makes good sense.

  2. Busses continue to be seldom used and consistantly operate at a loss. The dialogue continues, because grant money continues to be available for all kinds of "transportation" initiatives, its politically harmless, but the busses continue to run almost empty, consuming resources that could be better used elsewhere.

  3. If car companies hadn't killed off streetcar lines we would not have largely gotten out of the habit of using public transport. It will take a good while and $4.00/gal gas for many of us to find the habit again. The smaller buses will put more flexibility in the system than most people have experienced.

  4. Rees Roberts10/28/2009 9:12 PM

    Dustin and Pete:

    This idea of highlighting the best of the posted comments is starting to make me a convert to keep using comments.

    I gotta hand it to Graham. He really makes sense. Rail may make sense in some communities but so do subways in others. But not all options are equal in their application.

    Racine needs rail as much as it needs subways. Graham, you have convinced me. In the future, a local economy is going to be king. Think big but act locally is the saying I keep on hearing.

    Whether the frustration is not having money, can't find a job, dealing with health care for our families or a bunch of other issues creating the perfect storm we are living with now, we all seem to be caught with a degree of justifiable anger. And it has struck me that recent comments here on Racine Post have been nothing but a reaction to what people are having to deal with.

    I just hope we can work up enough common sense as the guys from the Racine Post put it, so we can take this energy and start working more together.

    Graham, I would love to join you in your vision to use buses all through out Racine County. It just makes so much sense. We need to expand this in a number of ways. We have so much unused talent here. We have been so indoctrinated to apply for a job and just wait for some kind of response.

    Why don't we all band together and make our own jobs? Use Grahams blueprint and just expand it. We all have ideas on what is needed here in Racine. Let's make it happen. Does anyone else think so?

    Thanks Graham.

    Rees Roberts

  5. Empty busses pollute for no reason.

  6. concrete katie10/29/2009 11:59 AM

    I agree with Graham, too. I also believe in the bicycle. There is sure to be something coming to in the near future powered by the sun or big windy people (pols and ceos).

  7. Smaller more efficient buses would be a start. Then once people are used to using public transport the money and riders may be there for a train line.

  8. Thank you all for the positive comments and for the special mention. It seems that, occasionally, I get something right.

    I agree with Anon 12:38; there may be a time in the future when a commuter rail system might be advantageous, particularly after a county wide bus systems is available and people can come to several stops along the rail line and pick up buses to take them anywhere else in the county they need to go. But, that time is not now, especially with little or no access to the rest of the county and based on our current economic condition. Wait until we're back in the black, have the majority of the city's deficit paid down and can subsidize it with more ridership fees and less taxes.

  9. Graham

    Question for you. If, like you believe ridership would increase if there was a County Wide Bus system, would you think it would then justify the larger buses? I can just see the possibility of scaling down the buses, like you suggest, only to be caught with our pants down with not enough space in those buses as people grab to use them once they can get to where they want to go.

    What do you think Graham? What do others think?

  10. Rees, you raise a valid point. I believe the way the system currently exists, it should be scaled back to accommodate the current usage. If, in the future, the need for the system grows, then the system should expand to meet that need. Keep in mind, if the need grows that means more people paying the fares. But to subsidize a system now to accommodate a million people when only 25,000 are going to use the system is wasteful (and I'm just using arbitrary numbers). If the system grows to require the return of 66 passenger buses, then those buses should be reinstated at that time, with the requirement that they burn 99% clean LP fuel. The smaller buses can then be delegated to expanded sub-routes or sold to other municipalities that could use them.

  11. Rees Roberts10/30/2009 9:13 PM

    Well said Graham. I am in your court. Who knows, maybe someone might take this idea up and run with it. What are the odds?

  12. Rees, if it's the, so-called mayor, or the city council, or the county board, the chances are probably nonexistent.

  13. Thank you Graham for thoroughly explaining many valid issues that effect this city. Your words have a lot more meaning than one who can only bash a local corporation.
    Keep up the good work.

  14. A smaller bus might cost $230,000 per. A 35 footer with 44 capacity is about $250,000. 35 is good for this territory and rush hours. They all cost about the same to run anyhow. This would require how many buses and bus stations?
    I'm personally for any mass transit system for anyone that can not or does not want to drive a car in congestion or bad weather.
    Commuter rail would be part of the RTA tax along with the busses. Rail is always on time and makes several town and village stops to satisfy a particular destination for riders various needs.
    There seems to be a feeling out there that bus fares should hafta pay for the general costs. Never never does any form of transportation pay for itself !! The RTA pool money and state and federal kick-ins is what pays for the services and vehicles.
    Pay for itself? No no.
    What do our cars and roads and ramps and etc. cost? Thousands and billions. An RTA would remove the buses from your property tax and the taxes collected would pay for the rail and county buses. Pretty good deal. This comment of buses operate at a loss; sure they do. So do all the empty cars I see with a driver only. How much did that car cost you and roads you don't drive on cost? Alternatives are overdue for many reasons. Recession is the time to make this investment. An RTA is vital to our transportation needs. I'm glad Graham would like to see expansions. The expansions hafta include commuter rail, which has advantages as the bus also does.
    As companies would hopefully relocate or startup her; they don't 'til the question of "how's your transportation" is answered.