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Tax Good, Rail Bad

Cap Times

The county’s current half-cent sales tax raises about $42 million a year for the county government. An additional half-cent tax would do likewise, with 25 percent spent on bus service, 25 percent on road maintenance, 33 percent on commuter rail and 16 percent on rail/bus enhancements, countywide paratransit and bike transit.

Looks like Trolley Dave and the Falk Express want to raise the sales tax for a county Rail Transit Authority. I think the tax for the RTA is a good idea but not the rail. The nice thing about an RTA is it treats our county transportation system as a whole rather than disconnected parts.

What’s unfair for cities like Madison is folks come from outside the city but inside the county to work and shop, yet pay little for the infrastructure that supports it.  Much, if not all of that cost comes in the form of property taxes. The 1/2 cent tax will be good for the whole county with additional options of transportation for all involved.

It looks like for the time being they have taken Dave’s train, I mean trolley, away. This is probably a good thing. If a city like Kenosha that connects to the CTA can’t make a go of it, Madison probably won’t either.  I recently looked at Dave’s rail plans and was not impressed. We have all heard of the bridge to nowhere, this looked like rail to nowhere. It circles around the west, south, and east side of Madison, but does not connect with the bus hubs. This is exactly the kind of one sided transportation thinking the RTA will hopefully fix.

I am equally suspicious of the county rail from Middleton to East Town Mall. But I do like the county’s more problem based approach to rail. The Middleton to East Town would connect two major shopping districts on the opposite sides of town. Living on the east side, it is probably quicker driving to Milwaukee than the Middleton business district. The great potential of rail is the possibility of cars staying on the periphery. Cars staying at East Town while folk go westward and vice versa.

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