Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Transportation in Whitewater and its impact on local businesses

Whitewater is a nice town and the campus is great. However, Whitewater students have little mobility when it comes to finding their way out of the town. When I was looking into the possibility of applying to Whitewater, I found out that Madison and Milwaukee are only one hour away, and Chicago is about three hours.

It was an incentive to live in a small town knowing that bigger cities are at proximity.

The issue of transportation arises when I actually got to Whitewater. There is no frequent transportation to destinations outside of Whitewater. Buying a car became a necessity. This issue doesn’t only affect the everyday students’ life, but it also can be a barrier to businesses in Whitewater that are looking to expand and diversify their customers and not just be labeled “local businesses”. I have always thought of the “local business” label to be out of date during our time. Our businesses should be able to attract customers from other towns and enter into the competition of the free market. Transportation can be a serious obstacle to accomplish that.

Whitewater Student Government rejected the Janesville Transit System proposal which was offering transportation in the Whitewater-Janesville-Milton area for a cost of $2.5 or $5 a semester per student depending on the number of trips per week the bus would offer within the three towns.

The reasons for rejection varied, but the most absurd one was: “to protect the businesses in Whitewater”. In my opinion, this reason is not based on good analysis on the real impact of transportation on actual businesses and on potential businesses that can be created in Whitewater.

I believe Whitewater businesses could attract more customers outside of Whitewater when affordable transportation means are in service and that the increasing number of incoming students should be given more transportation options to have a better mobility and therefore freedom.

What do you think?