Hi John,

Today's “Climate Perspectives from Europe” by Michelle Eul reflects on how public transportation and city design affect her family's lifestyle.

Enjoy Michelle's columns and share them with your friends!  You can find all her columns at Climate Perspectives from Europe on the 350MKE site.

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Hi Everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in. So I hope you are doing well.

After a summer of wildfire smoke, droughts, and heat waves, now is a good time to focus on climate solutions.
As a Milwaukee-native now living in Switzerland, I’ve had a chance to experience some climate solutions that are just budding in Wisconsin. Walkable cities, municipal compost, renewable energy, etc. These examples show that climate solutions ARE possible and often have additional benefits too. Let’s take a look starting with public transportation and walkable cities:
Imagine people of all ages and classes riding the bus together. Commuters. Families. The elderly. Everyone. The buses come so often that you don’t need to check the schedule. You buy tickets quickly on your phone. When you get to your bus stop, it’s a short walk and then you arrive at your destination.
That’s public transportation in Switzerland! Pairing that with sidewalks and footpaths under busy intersections means that walking or taking the bus is often preferable to driving! 
What does this mean for me and my family? It means we walk to the grocery store, preschool, and most errands. My husband walks or takes the bus to work. Like many Swiss families, we only have one car which is primarily for weekend outings. Also, it doesn’t matter as much if gas is $7/gallon because we use WAY less. We have a great life, but we are not car dependent. This freedom is wonderful!
Walkability and public transportation are climate solutions too. Less pollution. Fewer carbon emissions. More active people. But, I know it’s not easy to implement these things into regions that have been designed around cars. Every pedestrian walkway that you support and every lane expansion that you protest helps move the needle. There are already good efforts to expand walkability and public transportation in Milwaukee, like the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route that began running in June and expansion plans for the HOP. 
Now, let’s work together to keep the momentum going! Can you use the bus, BRT, or HOP to replace any of your car trips? If we work together, we can build a stronger community with cleaner air for everyone in Milwaukee!
Here’s a picture of my son riding the bus in Switzerland with “Slothie”
Me with my kids in the double stroller. We love taking the stroller to walk to errands, daycare, library, etc.
To explore public transportation options, try this button in Google Maps. This screen shot shows transit from State Fair to the downtown Chase Bank location for our Friday protests. Think of how much parking frustration you’d avoid!

I welcome your thoughts and questions:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @Environmentalist_Mama
How Does Milwaukee Compare?
By Greg
While far behind most of Europe today, Milwaukee has begun making public transportation a priority.  But good public transportation is not new for Milwaukee.  Horse-drawn streetcars appeared on Milwaukee’s streets in the 1860’s with electric streetcars arriving in the 1890s.  By 1920, after acquisitions and bankruptcies, The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company (TMER&L Co.) emerged operating 180 miles of track within Milwaukee City limits.  A subsidiary ran interurban commuter lines to Kenosha, Sheboygan, Watertown, Burlington, and East Troy.
In 1938, under federal pressure, TMER&L Co. divided its electric power and electric streetcar assets which, in the process, formed Wisconsin Electric Power & Light Co. that eventually morphed into today’s WEC.  The division was mostly on paper and in 1947 the FTC’s demand for divestment led to Milwaukee’s streetcar lines running for the last time in the spring of 1958.
From the late 1950s Milwaukee’s public transportation mostly consisted of buses with service subject to ownership (private until 1975) and budget constraints.

 In 2015 plans to build an electric streetcar system were approved by the Milwaukee Common Council and in November 2018 The Hop began operations as Milwaukee’s first electric streetcar in 60 years.  Beginning October 29, 2023, you can try the new L-Line route (1st expansion phase) on Sundays while station construction continues during the week. The Hop is FREE to ride!  Check out it’s route.
In 2016 the East-West BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) Feasibility Study began.  The spring of 2023 saw the first buses (15 electric by early 2024) begin service on the East-West route that runs from near the lakefront and through the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.  A North-South route along 27th St. is under development.  The CONNECT 1 BRT is FREE to ride until early 2024.
Jan and I have used The Hop a number of times.  It’s comfortable, modern and makes it very convenient to get to restaurants, shopping and Bastille Days without having to find parking close to your destination.  The streetcars are on 15 min. (peak) or 20 min. (off-peak) schedules.

We've also taken the BRT CONNECT 1 from the west Park-n-Ride to Chase Bank.  The route is mostly dedicated lanes that speed transit times.  Modern stations provide easy access.  The last stop is within easy walking distance of the lakefront, art museum, festival grounds or a transfer to The Hop.  The bus was nearly full through central downtown with people making use of the bike racks and wheelchair accommodation.
It’s only the beginning, give The Hop and CONNECT 1 a try!
The Hop
About the BRT
Ride the BRT
Brief history of Milwaukee Transportation
The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company (TMER&L)

Michelle Eul is an engineer, a mother of 2 3, and a member of 350MKE. She is very passionate about protecting our environment and climate, and participates in environmental orgs like 350. Originally from Milwaukee, she now lives in Switzerland.

"With climate change, it’s good to have a global perspective, so to provide a European viewpoint, I’ll be sharing “Climate Perspectives from Europe”. I hope you find them interesting."

You can connect with Michelle at [email protected] or on Instagram @environmentalist_mama.

Keep in touch!
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