UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News) The number of Americans riding mass transit is the highest since 1956, but Wisconsin is bucking that trend. The American Public Transportation Association said riders nationally took almost ten-point-seven billion trips on public buses, trains, and subways last year. That's up 1-percent from 2012. Statewide figures for Wisconsin were not part of the report, but it did say that Milwaukee County buses attracted 2-percent fewer riders last year, for a total of 43-million. The new data also shows that ridership was down in Racine and Port Washington, and up a little in Madison.
Racine transit manager Al Stanek blames a 10-percent cut in the state's transit aid in 2012. He said Racine had to increase fares and reduce services. Stanek said Racine's mid-day bus service was cut to one run per hour. A federal grant helped Milwaukee County avoid such reductions, but a spokesman for County Executive Chris Abele said the system has been cutting service and raising fares for a decade.
The head of Milwaukee's Public Policy Forum, Rob Henken, says Wisconsin discourages mass transit by commuters with a lack of express bus lanes and rapid transit. The current state budget does increase mass transit funds by 4-percent next year, with additional increases to serve elderly and disabled riders.