GREENFIELD, Wis. — People living with disabilities will no longer face cuts to Milwaukee County Transit System Para Transit services.
After the Milwaukee County Board passed the tax increase on Thursday, hundreds who use the para transit services let out a collective sigh of relief.
Mark Laing and Luanne McGregor have been using para transit services for years. They are both in wheelchairs and require the assistance to go from ‘point A to point B’ on a daily basis.
“We are so blessed to have an option like this,” Laing said.
He said without these services, him and his wife Luanne would be stranded. They use the services to run errands and more recently, to go to doctors’ appointments and chemo for Mark. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.
“Due to the fact that he has cancer, it is important to me to keep his mind active, keep trying to be social, so that his life is better,” Luanne McGregor said.
There are roughly 5,800 para transit riders in the county through MCTS. Around 700 of those riders faced cuts to their area is the tax increase didn’t pass. Fran Musci, the director of para transit at MCTS said these services are essential for quality of life.
“Basically they would not be able to go anywhere,” Musci said. “Doctor, dialysis, baseball game, friend's house, funeral, it would impact their daily life because they would be homebound."
Spectrum News reporter Megan Marshall rode along with the couple on Thursday, and delivered the news that the tax increase passed, which meant they wouldn’t lose ride services. It was emotional for both to hear.
“Euphoric, absolutely euphoric,” Laing said as he choked away tears.
“My life will continue now,” McGregor said. “Without this van service, my life would be nothing but sitting inside a nursing home."
The couple, like many others, faced weeks of uncertainty. They now know they have secure transportation for the fun things in life and for the necessary things.
According to city officials, while the tax increase helps the program, there may still be cuts made to the program down the road when the budget is up for discussion.