MV Transportation, the New Orleans-based company selected by Milwaukee County administrator Chris Abele to take over administration of the Milwaukee County Transit System, canceled its own open house January 29 at the Washington Park library.
After sending out post cards to residential addresses across the north side only a few days earlier, MV posted a small sign on the door to the library's public meeting room announcing that the open house had been canceled on account of weather -- on the day Milwaukee students went back to school as a slow warming ended two days of double-digit sub-zero high temperatures.
The absence of any noticeable throng of disappointed residents suggested that few had been paying attention in the first place. There had been no mass notice about the cancellation. Library staff asked about the open house had to go look at the door to see what the status of the open house might be.
Although Louisiana is experiencing its own unseasonably cold weather, the cancellation will not inspire confidence that MV is prepared to maintain service through a cold Wisconsin winter.
Abele, who first ran for the county executive position vacated by Scott Walker, on a platform rejecting any renewed efforts to secure dedicated funding for the transit system, invited bids from MV and others on the theory that a low-bid alternative to Milwaukee Transport Services, Incorporated, (MTS) could improve service while decreasing costs.
Many MCTS riders are unaware that there is a private not-for-profit corporation contracted to manage the bus system. MTS was formed when the county took over from ailing private companies in 1975 to save public transit, and has administered the system ever since. Abele has advocated that a for-profit company like MV could produce more and better service on the subsidized transit system, at lower cost. Neither Abele nor MV has been specific on how this would be accomplished, while producing an acceptable profit margin for MV shareholders.
The cancelled open house would have been an opportunity for MV to provide hard numbers and detailed plans for the consideration of inner-city residents, many of whom depend on the bus system to get to school, to work, and to medical appointments. The posted cancellation notice said it would be rescheduled for March 10. Meantime, open houses are scheduled for Atkinson Library Feb 4 and Martin Luther King Library Feb 25, if they are not cancelled also.