Watch: Council Briefing on Bus Rapid Transit or “Metro Rapid”
Madison has been pursuing high capacity rapid transit for 30 years. The Metro Rapid system is bus rapid transit - a frequent, faster, and more reliable bus system that uses larger buses to transport more riders. BRT’s features include frequent all-day service and direct routes with fewer stops. It utilizes special traffic signals to help buses get through intersections faster, dedicated bus lanes, stations with off-board fare payment, and larger buses. Metro Rapid will run along East Washington Ave., around the Capitol, through the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) campus, continuing west on University Ave. and Mineral Point Rd., to the West Towne Mall.
There’s been a lot of conversation recently about the downtown section of Metro Rapid. Staff recently briefed the Common Council Executive Committee on the status of the project, with special attention to downtown. The video linked below provides background on Metro Rapid, the design and approval process, and the recent redesign of State St. stations. These stations are 60% smaller and much more transparent than before. The changes came in direct response to the concerns of business owners who expressed fears that busses would obstruct views of their display windows from across the street. By making the stations smaller and easier to see through as well as by strategically placing them to reduce any new visual impacts the stations could create we have maintained the aesthetic of State Street while providing top-of-the-line public transportation that will allow access to the heart of the city from across Madison.
With $80 million set aside in President Biden’s Budget, Madison’s BRT system is on the brink of success. Madison’s federal BRT application is one of only six in the nation recommended for funding for fiscal year 2022, out of 35 applicants. We need to take advantage this historic moment and finally bring rapid transit to our great city.