An agreement has been reached to restore public bus service to the southern part of the Wausau area. The deal caps a year of struggle between religious leaders and budget conscious communities. On January 2, buses will run again between the city of Wausau and neighboring Weston, Schofield and Rothschild after being suspended for a full year.
The three municipalities pulled out of the regional metro system because of state funding cuts. Then the faith-based group NAOMI rallied public opinion, and passed a direct legislation referendum to force Weston to restore 12 routes a day. Weston voters balked at paying for the service, so village leaders offered a compromise of seven routes. Rabbi Dan Danson, chair of the NAOMI clergy caucus, says it's a deal they can accept, "We're pretty pleased with it. We feel that this is a win-win situation."
Danson says the renewed service gives the poor, the elderly and the handicapped access once again to shopping centers and St. Clare's Hospital, "I think it's all about self-reliance and independence. I think it enables them to take control of their lives. Getting people on the bus and getting people back in control of their lives."
Wausau Metro transit director Greg Seubert says he's relieved, "It's one route that's trying to serve three different communities, and the service level will be fairly limited, but it's certainly a start. You know, the fact that we've been able to work cooperatively between the four different communities and deal with NAOMI's desires and that of the general public I think is really pretty remarkable."
Seubert hopes the deal leads eventually to more routes with a greater coverage area.