Monday, April 18, 2011Fellow Rail & Transit Advocates:
The following is a transcript of my comments before the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee budget hearing in West Allis on 11 April 2011. Feel free to share, plagiarize, etc.!
We don’t have worsening congestion on Wisconsin’s roads because of people who van-pool and ride transit to work.
And our interstate highways are not crumbling because of freight that is being moved on railroads.
No, our highway funding system is broke because rush-hour motorists aren’t paying the real costs for all the capacity they demand. And freight truckers don’t begin to pay for all the damages they cause.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s counties and municipalities are digging deeper and deeper into property owners’ pockets because motorists aren’t paying the real costs of local roads and streets…and all the plowing, patching, policing, and EMS services motorists demand.
We have very serious budget problems in this state. The solution isn’t to INCREASE subsidies for rush-hour drivers and freight trucking!
No, we need to do everything possible to REDUCE the costs of moving freight and people. Wisconsin should work closely with rail companies to shift interstate freight from highways to rail. And we need to EXPAND transit, not cripple it.
But budgets aren’t just about money – they are about people.
If you are a person who is accustomed to driving whenever, wherever, and as much as you want, you have no idea what life is like for people who cannot drive…people who SHOULD not drive…families which can’t afford a car…people who would rather not depend on a car for everything.
These people deserve your representation no less than people who are like you.
I will close by challenging you to experience life on the other side of the windshield.
Walk to your grocery store a few times a month.
Pedal your bicycle to your place of worship.
Ride the bus when you go out for drinks on Friday night.
There is no better way for you to learn what you need to know – as servants of the people – than to walk in the other guy’s shoes.