Abele opposes free transit program, says county would lose $3 million a year

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says people need to contact their county supervisor to have them vote against free transit rides. County Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic says it's time to take transit to the next level. That's why she put an amendment forth to give free rides to seniors.

She said it was critical that seniors have better access to transit, and that the “Growing Opportunities” or “GO” pass included in the budget will allow seniors and persons with disabilities to ride the bus free beginning April 1.

“In 2015 our riders will be using smart cards to travel around and outside of Milwaukee County,” she said. “Our county is growing, and we need to grow opportunities to match it. We have some of the highest fares in the region combined with a lack of service to suburban economic development zones for job seekers. The status quo simply isn't good enough. The Board's plan will bring new service to thriving job centers in Brown Deer and Oak Creek.

“Our seniors, and residents living with disabilities, depend on a vibrant transit system for their independence. Our older adults have contributed so much to our society and should not be faced with the difficult decision between buying prescription drugs or a bus pass to see their doctor.”

Abele says his vetoes for the 2015 County Budget could save taxpayers $2.2 million. He says Dimitrijevic's transit plan would cost taxpayers about $3 million per year.

He says the Milwaukee County Department on Aging and the Disabilities Services Division agree with him. He also said Dimitrijevic didn't consult those departments before offering this plan.

\"They don't like this and by the way it's going to cost about $3 million a year in lost revenue,\" Abele said. \"We already have a discount program for seniors as we should.\"

The County Board will discuss and act on Abele's vetoes Wednesday afternoon at 1:30. It can override his vetoes with two-thirds vote.

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