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Monday, February 8, 2010

Regional transit is key to our economic future

From a blog post on BizTimes by Robert Mariano, chairman and chief executive officer of Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc. in Milwaukee, co-written by Dick Hansen, president and CEO of Johnson Financial Group Inc., Racine:

On behalf of the nearly 7,400 employees we represent, we wish to express the important role regional transportation plays in our economic future. We are committed to ensuring dedicated funding for a balanced regional transit system and encouraging our business colleagues to do the same.

We represent two of southeastern Wisconsin’s largest institutions and provide critical services to thousands of local residents on a daily basis. We understand that a fully-funded transit infrastructure impacts our clients, customers, business, and the economic climate in southeastern Wisconsin. We have hundreds of employees that use buses to get to work every day, however that number continues to decrease as the bus system disintegrates. Continued cuts to the system impair our employees’ ability to get to work and our clients’ and customers’ ability to get critical services and products.

We hope it is clear that we understand firsthand how transit affects our larger community as well as our specific organizations, and we are committed to working with the Legislature to see that a politically and economically sound funding source for transit is implemented in our region during this session.

We are issuing a call to action for our representatives in Madison. We need a truly regional, multi-county, multi-modal regional transit authority including Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee Counties to be immediately focused on improving bus transit throughout the region and advancing the KRM commuter rail project. We must have a dedicated funding mechanism for transit, which must provide property tax relief, restore routes and rescind fare increases to allow for efficient and effective bus operations throughout the region to allow for economic development and regional growth.

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