RIDE ON! Common Ground Improves Transit in Ozaukee County

Happy-Podium

Soon Chris Fraser will no longer have to leave church early on Sundays.  Effective April 2014, Common Ground’s proposal to extend Sunday hours for Ozaukee County’s Shared-Ride Taxi from noon to 6:00pm will be implemented under a new provision in the County’s 2014 adopted budget.

Chris, a member of First Congregational Church in Port Washington, along with other people with disabilities, seniors and workers, had to limit their participation at church, getting to and from work, shopping, and social activity on Sundays.

Common Ground leaders, who have been researching issues in the suburban and rural areas around Milwaukee, discovered this transit challenge by listening to concerned people in their communities. Life without automobiles rose to the top.

Common Ground met with county officials, members of the clergy, nonprofit leaders and the business community to get a clear understanding of the challenge. Extending Sunday hours for the Shared-Ride Taxi seemed like a good place to start in addressing the transit challenge.

Jeff Suddendorf, Minister at First Congregational Church in Port Washington, has seen the need for better public transit. “I have members of my congregation who rely on the Ozaukee County Shared-Ride Taxi service. Some are elderly, some are people with disabilities or need to get to work. One of the concerns is that they cannot stay at church on Sundays or get to their place of employment, because the taxi service ends at noon.”

On the evening of October 24, 110 people, including Common Ground leaders from throughout the region, gathered at First Congregational Church and listened to taxi riders who need additional Sunday hours. They also heard Lee Schlenvogt, Chairman of the Ozaukee County Board of Supervisors, voice his support for Common Ground’s proposal.

Smile-folks

On November 4th, at a Public Hearing on the Ozaukee County 2014 budget, 38 Common Ground supporters stood together as taxi riders testified about the need for the extension of the Sunday hours. Then, on November 6th, the county budget was adopted – including Common Ground’s proposal!

Chris Fraser is among the many who are happy about the proposal. “I am looking forward to the extended hours on Sunday so that I can attend church gatherings,” exclaimed Chris Fraser. “I have enjoyed working with Common Ground on this important issue.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Common Ground’s work on public transit or other issues in the suburban and rural areas around Milwaukee, please contact Rusty Borkin, Common Ground Organizer, at rusty.borkin@commongroundwi.org.

To download a printable PDF of this article, click HERE.
To find our more about Common Ground’s Suburban Rural Caucus, click HERE.