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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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The news in today's news release from MCTS was not that a number of positions were being eliminated... it was that somehow these positions have survived so deep into the County's dire fiscal situation and our Nation's recession.

We got a news release from Milwaukee County Transit System today detailing the elimination jobs, including all "live information agent positions from the call center who assisted bus riders with planning bus trips."

What? We have this? I'm paying for this? "Live Information Agents?" Who has live operators anymore?

And it's operators plural... and a lot of them. , "16 positions (9 full time and 7 part time), which handled customer questions regarding the bus system..."

Let me state a few things first in support of a strong transit system. I'm for it. We need it. It's worth paying for. I rode the bus all the time as a suburban kid. It was my ticket to downtown, the mall, my job, and sometimes even to school. As an adult, I've relied on the bus when my car was in the shop and I needed to get here to work. I've ridden special routes to State Fair and Summerfest. My grandmother has ridden the bus all her life, since to this day she has never owned a car. The bus has been an important part of my Milwaukee experience.

BUT... "live information agents?" "Call center?" Assisting, "bus riders with planning trips?" 

I got 3 letters for that... M-A-P.

I won't even suggest internet, because I know not everyone is online... although you could go to the library and surf the web for free.

In all the years I rode the bus, I never dreamed there was a number I could call for help. I looked at the sign on the street corner. If that didn't do it for me, I looked at a route map. I think they had them at the drug store near my house. If they didn't, I'd have waited for the bus, hopped on and asked for one. Too much to ask?

Sure is nice to have the live operator options, I guess, in the best of times. Maybe you've seen the news. These are far from the best of times. We're out of money! There's no money left for niceties... in fact we're scraping for necessities.

So sorry... the easy phone number to talk to a live person to help plan bus trips is out. Self reliance is in. Figure it out; ask someone for help, or absent that... get on the bus and see where it goes! Just don't ask taxpayers to keep funding luxuries for a relatively small number of users.


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