Posted on Thursday, May. 16, 2019 at 12:25 pm
Metro Transit is a crucial part of Madison’s infrastructure.
Madison’s projected growth is such that if transportation was left only to increased automobile use, many additional lanes of traffic would be needed in the city’s main travel corridors. Additional investment in public and private parking spaces would also be required.
I have a different vision. When I worked at the University, I commuted to work on Metro buses. As Mayor, I still rely on the Metro bus system to get me to work everyday. I encourage you to join me, and I encourage employers to join the City in offering free or discounted bus passes to employees to make bus commuting more accessible.
The long term goal is advancing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the Madison region. BRT is a high-frequency limited-stop transit system that offers faster more direct service using larger vehicles to increase capacity. We’re working towards a BRT system, but we need to take steps along the way to support our transit infrastructure.
UPGRADING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE
Metro’s current facility on East Washington was built to hold 160 buses, but it now houses 218. A remodel of Metro’s current facility is underway. The first phase of the renovation will focus on improving safety by opening space in the maintenance facility and improving air quality for Metro workers by reducing service lane debris.
The renovation will also retrofit the building to accommodate charging stations and taller all-electric buses which are due to arrive in the summer of 2020. Metro staff are working with partners Madison Gas and Electric, bus manufacturer Proterra, and the Center for Transportation and the Environment to roll out three all-electric buses and I hope to be one of their first customers.
Over the past 15 years, the location of affordable housing has crept back away from key transit corridors causing longer commutes for low-income riders and people of color. In a 2015, passenger survey it was discovered that African American riders transferred more than twice as many times as white riders. Those identified as low-income were also more likely to experience travel times over 45 minutes.
At times, Metro’s East Washington facility is unable to meet repeated requests to provide additional service to outlying neighborhoods, college campuses, and key regional employers.
That is why investment at new satellite locations, such as the old Oscar Meyer plant, allows Metro to enlarge its fleet, increase service frequency, and expand service to peripheral areas and communities. It can also provide housing for possible future articulated 60-foot buses that will be an essential part of our BRT plan that will also help address increased transit demand.
If you are a bus rider like me you probably have some good ideas about our transit system. Send them to me at Mayor@cityofmadison.com and I will make sure that Metro gets to see them. If you’re not yet a bus rider, let us know what it would take to get you on board.
See you on the bus!
Mick Rusch contributed to this post.