Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Milwaukee Connector

The Common Council has passed the Milwaukee Connector plan. I have to admit that I don't understand this. We are apparently going to spend $ 300 million to place electric buses on 13 miles of routes on which conventional busses currently run. If in fact it makes sense to spend that kind of money on mass transit, shouldn't it be used to provide service that is currently not on offer? The best argument that I have heard is that these things carry twice as many people and are, therefore, more efficient. But that only makes sense if you can move the same number of people in fewer trips and you can do that only by making service less frequent which also has efficiency implications. In any event, you could run an awful lot of extra busses for an awful long time for $ 300 million.

Is there anything to commend this project other than that there is federal money to pay for a chunk of it? Tim Sheehy is a smart guy but his column in Sunday's paper said exactly nothing beyond "we need fixed transit because everyone has fixed transit."

Is the subtext of all of this that Milwaukee County is so broke that the bus system is doomed? Is this really about getting someone else to pay for a system to replace busses along the major routes so that the costs will be sunk and the service won't be eliminated?

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