1000 Friends and our partners Sierra Club John-Muir Chapter, WISPIRG, WISDOM, Wisconsin Green Muslims, and others hosted 15 community forums across the state where transit riders, local and state elected officials and transit agencies came together. The forums were a place for transit riders to talk about their experiences using public transportation, the difficulties they face and the potential for building more efficient and reliable systems.
Our forums were a resounding success, with a diverse group of people attending. Although each community had a different set of challenges, there were clear themes that emerged—investing in public transportation is key to connecting people to jobs, reducing our dependence on cars, improving community health and making our transportation systems safer.
We collected stories that reflected the many different ways that people in Wisconsin use and value public transportation.
A rider in Milwaukee spoke about her two hour commute just to get to work while a woman in Appleton detailed her day long trip to the mall to buy a dress for a summer wedding. We heard from a gentleman suffering from muscular dystrophy who waits at a transfer point for 45 minutes each day to make a bus connection. At the heart of these stories were also a strong sense of pride and value in their communities’ transit systems, and a feeling of optimism on how much better they could be with more investment from the state legislature.
A total of 416 people attended the community forums around the state. We are now looking forward to a day-long summit in Milwaukee on December 3rd, 2016 where riders, activists, Wisconsin Department of Transportation staff and elected officials will gather to discuss ways to enhance transportation equity through improved public transportation. US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has been invited to deliver the keynote address.
1000 Friends is grateful to our partners and all the community members who attended these meetings and advocated for a truly modern 21st Century transportation system in Wisconsin.