Former Ald. Ken Golden, in a recent listserv posting, clucked about the city's plan to hike bus fares to $2, after it recently made permanent the use of ad wraps to generate revenue: "I thought the wraps were to prevent fare increases - guess someone has a memory problem."
Someone does. According to Ald. Robbie Webber, it's Golden. "I do not remember that," says Webber, a member of the city's Transit and Parking Commission. "My recollection is that's not what was said."
The ads, which cover entire buses, including the windows, are expected to generate about $300,000 next year for Madison Metro. "It helps offset the deficit that is there," admits Webber. "But with rising fuel prices, everything costs more. The wraps weren't enough to keep up."
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has said money from the proposed 50-cent-per-ride fare increase could be used to restore routes cut in years past. But Webber says the Transit and Parking Commission, which makes the final decision on fares and routes, will look at other options.
"It might not be additional routes or times," she says. "It could be for better security at the transfer points."
Though she's not happy about a fare increase, Webber calls it inevitable, since the Common Council likely won't fund Metro the way it does other basic services.
"If we need to provide additional funding for brand-new roads or parks or anything else, we figure out a way," she complains. "I think Metro is a basic service too. But I don't seem to be in the majority."