Posted by: Opey | June 30, 2007

More on the Madison RTA

Thursday in my Enough is Enough post for the week, I vented about my disapproval for the proposed Regional Transportation Authority and the commuter rail that would be put in place if Dane County Executive Falk and Mayor Dave get their way. There have been quite a bit of back and forth between the usual supporters and opponents of street cars, commuter rails and alike. Everyone appears to be either broken up along the usual city political lines, but there is some who inhabit the middle ground. I consider myself one of those on the fence. I would be in favor of the small increase in sales tax IF it were to be spent properly to reorganize and streamline Madison Metro management, as well as to increase and improve bus service both on the isthmus and in the surrounding communities such as Verona, Sun Prairie, Middleton and all the others. It appears that there are some surprising opponents to the commuter rail proposal though. Middleton’s Mayor and Sun Prairie’s City Council have both expressed their opinion that the RTA and commuter rail are not in their respective communities’ best interest (Channel 3000 Link).  Both of these communities stand to benefit greatly from both the infrastructure improvements and increased transportation options proposed, but they both find flaws with the plan.  They, like me, believe that Madison and the surrounding communities have not yet reached the size necessary to support such an infrastructure project.  It would require major changes in the transportation patterns of citizens and I don’t believe that enough people will change fast enough to financially support the rails.  I also have serious questions whether or not a sales tax will pass.  An online poll was taken of Madison residents (I believe it too was on Channel3000.com) that showed many “Madisonians” were not in favor of a .5% increase in the sales tax.  I may be a simple college student who does not venture too far from the isthmus, but I just don’t see the major issues of traffic congestion and regional travel difficulties that are being touted as the reason for the RTA and rail lines.  This is one of the few times where a “band-aid”-type solution, one that does not require much of an increased in fixed/sunk costs, is in order.  Work to improve the existing system and then, as the city continues to grow and expand, work to re-investigate regional travel options when the surrounding communities are sure of their ability to support more dramatic steps.  Hopefully regional planning will also play a role to curb the horizontal expansion of the city/suburbs and will start to look in a vertical direction to minimize regional travel difficulties.

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