Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sustain, expand and develop with KRM rail

Thursday started very early with travel to a meeting at 7:30 a.m. I wish the trip could have been with the help of mass transit -- I would have been relaxed and ready to go.

But, alas, the trip was in my auto with a single driver to and from Milwaukee Area Technical College South in Oak Creek. Why? To hear Scott Bernstein describe “Building Wealth, Creating and Capturing the Benefits if Investing in Transit in Southeast Wisconsin.”

Whew! Those are lots of words to describe returning to a simpler style of living. In 1885 there was one electric transit line in the United States. By 1902, there was an electric transit line in every American city. And much of it was interconnected between cities -- we could work, play, and travel easily throughout the nation.

Racine was part of this massive network of community. We all had a sense of place, yet expanded because of transit possibilities. We let it go. Today we have the opportunity to rebuild that sense of place and community by investing in the essential transportation system with the KRM rail. Our transportation (car/truck) costs have greatly increased from 1900 to present-- from 3 percent in 1900 to about 16 percent of our disposable or expanding income. Nationally recognized speaker Scott Bernstein, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Chicago, told how transit investments build wealth, support thriving neighborhoods and create jobs and economic prosperity. The other part of the program included an overview of the status and the next steps of current transit proposals, including the KRM rail. The Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors and the Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee also sponsored the event.
Listen to an online interview with Scott Bernstein at Smart City Radio here where he talks about the true cost of commuting and the toll it takes on your wallet and your time. See more about his group, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, here.

Mass transit is an essential service for the community, both urban and suburban. We need to fund mass transit as we do with roads, hospitals and schools. We need dedicated funding for transit the same way that we have dedicated funding for roads and parking.

We also need to go "green" and overcome our dependence on the car and petroleum-based fuels. It is time-consuming to drive, park, shop; get in car to drive, park, shop; get in car to drive, park, shop over and over again. Then drive, park and go to a gym to work out since we have not walked about!

We can buy cars OR build wealth. Our personal savings accounts go down as car sales go up! As we decrease the use of our vehicles, we increase our disposable income by 10 to 15 percent.

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