Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Dane deserves RTA approval

Today, the Dane County Board of Supervisors again debates
the merits of a Regional Transportation Authority. Incited by our rapidly
growing community with no clear system of growth other than opportunistic
sprawl, we now have a proposal that reinforces building our county around
people rather than cars.

Delaying a new plan will cost taxpayers increased
congestion, decreased air quality and undoubtedly more money spent on
developing road infrastructure to accommodate more people with more cars. This
would create a feedback loop of excess with little chance of return on our
investments ? a cycle that won’t end until we run out of oil or land to pave.

But let’s look at the positives. Reports show that Madison
Metro Transit?s ridership is reaching record highs, projected to overcome the
previous record only two years from now, at more than 13.4 million riders
served a year. A large part of this success comes from healthy partnerships
with local business entities and campuses, including our own. Even so, it is clear
that citizens of all backgrounds in Dane County see public transportation as
viable, and it is time for the board to get on board.

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It is important to note that alternative transportation
doesn’t just accommodate our needs in downtown Madison, but also our neighbors
in outlying communities. A diversity of transit options that are equitable and
efficient not only preserve our beautiful rural communities from being trampled
by new highway development and low-density subdivisions, but also maintain the
health and vitality of our economy, the environment and the equity of our
populace.

Furthermore, it gives students a reasonable way to explore
and participate in the opportunities that exist outside the bounds of our
campus. For many, this could mean living downtown after graduation while having
the opportunity to work outside the city ? forgoing the expense and hassle of
owning a car.

In order to do this, we must account for the symbiosis of
not only the various types of communities, but also the modes of transportation
offered. We already have miles of great bike trails, and companies like Budget
Bicycle Center, which have implemented bicycle-borrowing programs.

Our bus infrastructure has also been tweaked through the
years, and provides options for low-income, elderly and disabled patrons every
day. Rail lines once intended for local travel lie dormant even though light
rail cars are cheaper to maintain, last longer than buses and are significantly
cleaner. The basic infrastructure is in place, and it’s time to turn our
thinking toward unifying them, providing safe and clean storage facilities,
paths built to complement each other, efficient transfer points and
well-planned transportation routes.

Scaling alternative transportation options that have already
proven successful ? such as bus rapid transit systems and light rail ? within
our current infrastructure, and negotiating the unique challenges that we face
as a community, is only a matter of conviction and dedication on our lawmakers’
part. We look to our government to guide our county forward in an intelligent
and efficient manner; we must encourage them to do this job and make order of a
currently directionless plan.

We should welcome an urban revolution that engages us with
our rural neighbors in viable transit solutions, increasing our already high
standard of living while providing new jobs and efficient access to existing
ones. It is this community?s vibrancy that attracts people to live, work and
pursue an education here; to maintain it, we must rethink our relationships and
modes of transportation in a comprehensive and systematic manner.

?

Wyndham Manning ([email protected])
is a senior majoring in communication
arts and environmental studies. He is also a District 5 candidate for the Dane
County Board of Supervisors.

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