Budget bill could slash public transit funding - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Budget bill could slash public transit funding

By Bonnie Shelton

WAUSAU (WAOW)--Another area that could be gravely affected by Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill: public transit.

Transit Director Greg Seubert said, if passed, Metro Ride buses could stop for good. That's because if Metro Ride loses the ability to collectively bargain with its employees, they say, they will no longer qualify for federal funding.

"As we read the budget repair bill, we would be in violation of our federal labor protections," said Seubert.

Federal funding makes up one third of Metro Ride's budget, and if lost, transit officials said they would have very few options to stay in business. Seubert says a loss of over one million dollars in the 2011 budget would be crippling.

"I don't know a way of effectively reducing our budget in order to maintain existing services without shutting the service down," he said.

Seubert says even if cuts are made, he would lose state funding that is awarded based on expenses. For every dollar he cuts, he loses 26 cents of state funding.

According to Seubert, nearly 850,000 passengers throughout the Wausau metro area use public transportation every year.

Calls and emails to our republican representatives requesting statements were not returned, so it's not clear what their position is on this particular issue.

"It would be unfortunate for the community I think if this service were lost," said Seubert.

Metro Ride is the only form of public transit in the area and also provides transportation to the elderly and disabled throughout Marathon County.

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton

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