APPLETON - It's a temporary fix to a long term problem, thanks to a population change in the Fox Cities.
Valley Transit was set to lose 1.5 million dollars in federal funding by October. That's because the population of the valley is now over 200,000 people.
But Congressman Reid Ribble helped add an amendment to the recently passed federal transportation bill. It guarantees federal funding for Valley Transit and Green Bay Metro for the next two years.
It's a plan that's been in the works for several years. Federal law limits federal transit funding to regions with a population of fewer than 200,000 people. The most recent census put the Fox Valley over that number. It meant without a solution by October, drastic changes were on the way for Valley Transit.
"The remaining municipalities would be paying three or four hundred percent more for less service so it was just unworkable and the beginning of the end," said Valley Transit General Manager Deborah Wetter.
Congressman Ribble stopped in Appleton to announce funding at the federal level has been secured for at least the next two years, through a companion amendment his office inserted into the federal transportation bill.
"The federal government wants federal control over everything and I believe that since the people of Appleton paid for it, they out to be the ones who control how they spend the money and that is ultimately the fix that we came up with," said Ribble.
While Congressman Ribble's bill will keep federal funding coming to Valley Transit for at least the next two years, Mayor Tim Hanna says there is still much work to be done at the state level.
"Valley Transit serves from Kaukauna down to Neenah and has interconnections to Oshkosh and Green Bay and it should," said Hanna.
Hanna says while some people question the need for bus service, he compares it to having city streets.
"What about those big empty busses? Well guess what we have big empty streets too. They're there when you need them, just like the busses, we need to change how we think about that."
The first step in a long process to saving local transit.
Valley Transit hopes the state legislature will pass a bill in the next session, allowing Valley Transit to put forth a local referendum. It would ask taxpayers to fund a 1/10th of a percent sales tax to fund valley transit long term.
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