Today I joined the Wisconsin Transit Rider's Alliance Annual Meeting to hear about some Dane County concerns from our most active transit activists. I also had a chance to learn from the La Crosse Area Planning Committee's Transportation Planner about successes and obstacles in La Crosse County transit planning.
The most interesting program that we discussed was the Scenic Mississippi River Transit. La Crosse's Scenic Mississippi River Transit started in 2012 after a lot of work developing buy-in from communities throughout La Crosse County. The SMRT system runs fixed routes to bring workers from outlying communities (Prairie du Chien, Viroqua, Tomah) to jobs in La Crosse. With broad buy-in from multiple jurisdictions and some federal funding with a rural grant program, they're seeing growing success with this new program.
We also discussed some of the obstacles we can anticipate in the next few years. Nationwide we're seeing a decline in transit ridership which presents challenges for funding, as well as the overall goal of reducing our dependence on automobiles. Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing start-ups are complicating transit planning. Finally, autonomous vehicles will surely present new challenges that we are only beginning to foresee.
Thanks to the WI Transit Alliance for allowing me to join the meeting.