September 27, 2016

Insist on More and Better Public Transit to Ensure Equity in Southeastern Wisconsin




This week, nearly a dozen organizations supporting community, racial and environmental justice called on federal officials to ensure that state and regional transportation planners provide equitable outcomes by ensuring that public transportation improvements are included as core elements of Wisconsin’s transportation system.

The Federal Highway Administration’s own civil rights materials explicitly state that ‘a central goal of transportation equity is to facilitate social and economic opportunities by providing equitable levels of access to affordable and reliable transportation options based on the needs of the populations being served, particularly populations that are traditionally underserved,’” stated Karyn Rotker, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Wisconsin.

“People of color and people with disabilities are far more likely to depend on transit than white or non-disabled persons, and without an expanded and improved transit system in Southeastern Wisconsin they are not receiving ‘equitable levels of access,’” said Rev. Willie Brisco, of Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH).

“In addition, pouring money into more and bigger highways adds to suburban sprawl – which is a tremendous problem in this very racially segregated region,” noted William Tisdale, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council.

“Not including transit as part of our regional transportation system creates environmental and social justice issues, as well as facilitates urban sprawl and destruction of natural resources such as wetlands and natural areas,” added Milwaukee Riverkeeper’s Cheryl Nenn, in additional comments she submitted. “This transportation policy negatively affects our rivers, increasing impervious surface, increasing polluted runoff, and increasing flows to the combined sewer system.”

The comments were submitted as part of the quadrennial federal recertification review of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) and, at the request of federal officials, also encompass Wisconsin Department of Transportation Planning.

They are available below.

*Graphic: Source: Interaction Institute for Social Change (reprinted at FHWA, “Environmental Justice, Title VI, Non-Discrimination, and Equity” )

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