More federal money comes in to help County transit

According to a story in today’s Journal Sentinel, the Milwaukee County Transit System was awarded “nearly $8.3 million Monday to  to buy new buses and renovate bus garages.” That’s on top of the stimulus cash, and will ensure much-needed repairs to the facilities can occur. (That’s another effect of deferred maintenance that we haven’t heard much about, probably because it didn’t kill anyone.)

Sometimes, you need to look for help from the outside, especially when the deck’s stacked against you from the inside. What’s huge, given that, is that we have gotten new, clean buses for the first time in almost twenty years, and more will be on the way in coming years. The first round of new Clean Diesel buses were paid for in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It’s a directly visible benefit of “The Stimulus.”

A very good thing about the new buses is that while you can see them, you don’t hear them coming two blocks away. That is to say they’re not nearly as loud as the aging fleet. And, you can’t smell them. The old buses had no effective emissions control compared to the new ones. it was not uncommon to see and smell a dark cloud of diesel exhaust trailing in a bus’s wake as it lumbered past.

No one likes to see partially burned diesel molecules floating about in the air, much less inhale them. That experience makes anyone’s time in the city that much less pleasant. But the new buses have an exhaust treatment system that resembles the “Clean Diesel” systems found in modern Diesel cars from German manufacturers. No dark clouds trail in their wake. Whether or not we take the bus, we all benefit from the cleaner air.

I’m forming an idea that this sort of federal assistance is good for the larger economy. If we can’t generate the money locally to pay for these repairs and improvements, then that’s one little cut on the body of the larger economy. The federal stimulus will help remediate a little of that lost economic gain. And yes, it is possible to bleed to death from a thousand cuts.

It’s small step in the big picture, but an important step towards a better future for everyone in the county. We’ll take it. Thank you to whoever made this possible.


Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

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