The ACLU of Wisconsin sent the following letter to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee County Board Chair Theo Lipscomb & Board Members, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Common Council Pres. Ashanti Hamilton & Council Members, Wauwatosa Mayor Kathleen Ehley, Wauwatosa Council Pres. Cheryl Berdan & Council Members on May 25, 2016:
We are writing to express our support for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line from downtown Milwaukee to the Medical Complex, the East-West BRT.
As you know, the ACLU of Wisconsin has been a long time advocate for more and better public transportation as a matter of environmental justice and transit equity. The East-West BRT is a starting point to make those needed improvements a reality.
There are many thousands of jobs at both ends of the proposed route line, and more throughout the route, at locations like the near west side. The East-West BRT will help provide the many persons of color, persons with disabilities, and members of transit-dependent households who live in the route corridor with improved access to those jobs, as well as to education and health care. In addition, the East-West BRT, when properly linked in to other county bus routes, should broaden transit access to these locations for other central city residents. And it will provide a reasonable alternative to East-West highway capacity expansion, a proposal that would otherwise have significant adverse effects on the disproportionate number of persons of color who reside in the corridor.
It is our understanding that implementation of the East-West BRT is the first step on what the county plans as a broader BRT system, and that the next leg is intended to traverse more of the central city, increasing the number of persons of color and transit-dependent households who benefit from BRT. We also urge the county to work closely with neighborhood residents - including those in central city neighborhoods - to ensure that they also have input into, and benefit from, any development or redevelopment that occurs along the BRT route.
Again, we strongly support the proposed BRT as a matter of environmental and racial justice, and as a step towards building the quality multi-modal public transportation system that our community deserves.