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Study shows gaps in public transit system in Wisconsin

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – A report on the public transit systems across Wisconsin found 90 percent of residents in the city of La Crosse are within a quarter mile of a bus stop. However, it doesn’t mean it’s easily accessible for all.

It’s been 14 years since Obbie King and his wife owned a vehicle, after they decided to sell it in 2004.

“It was mainly the crippling expense of owning a vehicle,” King said. “We actually ran the numbers and it saves us about $3,000 a year.”

Since then King relies on his feet, bike and the city transit system, but that doesn’t mean it’s always convenient.

“The limitations of the hours I think is the biggest draw back in La Crosse,” King explained.

A number of community members met  to speak about a new study showing how the state’s transportation system does not meet the needs of residents in the state.

“With public transportation the more funding you put into it, the quicker it is, the more convenient it is and the more people who ride it,” Cassie Steiner, co-author of Arrive Together said.

Steiner says currently the systems across the state lack adequate transit access to schools, work, doctor’s offices and other needs. She says part of the reason is funding remains the same since it was reduced in 2011.

Representative Jill Billings says legislators need to give to get behind the move and give local control to creating a regional transit authority.

“It allows for people who are seniors, people who can’t afford a card, people who may have disabilities to still be active members,” Billings explained.

Steiner believes legislators should invest more money towards growing public transportation, instead of kicking around ideas of expanding lanes on highways

“Which makes congestion worse and generally the roads much less safe and putting even a fraction of that money back in public transportation could do wonders for our public transportation system,” Steiner finished.

Contributors of the study say the gaps in public transportation have a big impact on regional travel as well as seniors people with disabilities, low to middle income Wisconsinites and young people.

Jeremy Culver

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