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Report: Wisconsin public transportation limited by stagnant funding

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin municipalities haven’t got the money they need to expand their public-transportation services, according to a new report.

Nine Wisconsin nonprofit organizations reviewed U.S. Census data, local transit reports and interviewed riders for the two-year study, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

The study found deficiencies in most public-transportation systems in Wisconsin, said Cassie Steiner, the public relations associate for the Wisconsin John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club and one of the authors of the report.

“Public transportation systems are not necessarily connecting where people live or where there are low income areas, which experience lower rates of car ownership, to where opportunities were,” Steiner said.

Steiner said public officials are doing the best they can with the money they have.

“All of them kind of knew the areas that needed better service, knew the populations that needed to ride but weren’t getting access. However, the funding crisis for our transit systems was a huge problem. So even when solutions were identified, there weren’t resources to meet the needs,” Steiner said.

Regional-transportation planners said the report is flawed because it doesn’t take into consideration how having few riders in certain places hinders the ability to expand services in those places.

It’s not practical to have public-transportation services every were, said Jackie Eastwood is transportation planner for the La Crosse Area Planning Committee.

“We need to have transit service but you still have to look at the cost-benefit,” Eastwood said. “Even if they threw all the money they could at transit, it would probably still be really hard to sustain something like that when you don’t have the density and the population to support it.”

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