Advocacy Action Alert - Milwaukee County Budget Elimiates Important Transportation Service for People with Disabilities
October 11, 2022
The proposed 2023 Milwaukee County Budget eliminates paratransit taxi service, when the current contract ends May 31, 2023.
Paratransit taxi service has been provided by Milwaukee County for over 40 years; it provides subsidized taxi service to eligible paratransit eligible riders. The taxi service differs from the van service in providing on demand same day service.
Paratransit taxi service is essential for many people with a disability which prevents them from using fixed route bus service. The taxi service has been especially important for many community members who are blind or low vision. It provides a significant number of riders with transportation to their job. If taxi service users must rely on the van service in the future, it will be more costly for the county, and will not provide the timely on demand service that many users require to maintain employment.
The proposal to eliminate the taxi service was a surprise to most people who rely on this service, as well as to agencies that serve and/or advocate with people with vision loss and other disabilities. Given the county’s strong commitment to equity and inclusion, it is disappointing that decision makers did not have a robust process to get public input on this major change from the disability community including people who rely on the transit services in this decision. We ask this this approach change moving forward and that the county work with the disability community to get input when major changes are proposed. “Nothing about us without us.”
Budget Amendment Proposal
We ask policy makers to reconsider this decision. Given that the current contract continues through May 2023, there is time to establish a work group with county staff, paratransit users and the disability community to explore options for maintaining some type of on demand same day service. We recognize that the county faces fiscal challenges and want to work with you to explore all options to sustain this vital service.
It may be possible to access other state or federal funding sources such as the competitive federal RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grants for projects that will benefit nondrivers or state funding such as Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). We may be able to access technical assistance from The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) or the National Aging & Disability Transportation Center.
We are asking people who use the taxi service, their employers, and disability agencies to contact county supervisors to let them know how important this program is.
Key points to make:
Access to transportation is essential to the lives of Milwaukee County residents with disabilities including to their ability to maintain employment and independence. (include your personal story as a taxi user or an employer)
The proposal to eliminate the taxi program after 40 years of service was not inclusive of people who use the service and of disability organizations. People who rely on this service are shocked and upset that there was no effort to work with the disability community to find a way to sustain the program.
We ask County Supervisors to reconsider this proposal. Given that the current contract continues through May 2023, there is time to establish a work group with county staff, paratransit users and the disability community to explore options for maintaining some type of on demand same day service and explore other funding options.
Who to Contact and Timeline
- October 12th – submit written comments: Please submit written comments to your county supervisor and members of the Finance Committee by end of business October 12th. The Finance committee is meeting to consider paratransit funding on Thursday morning October 13th.
To email all members of the Finance Committee, go here.
To submit an official written comment regarding a specific Finance Committee agenda item, go here.
County Board Members: https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Board-of-Supervisors/Board-Members
Finance Committee members
Liz Sumner - Chair
Sequanna Taylor - Vice-Chair
Willie Johnson, Jr.
Steve F. Taylor
Juan Miguel Martinez