City of Madison moves forward with Bus Rapid Transit plans despite opposition from some local businessesThe Badger Herald

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Amid the debate over the Bus Rapid Transit system in Madison, the city’s Metro Transit held a public meeting Wednesday night to discuss its plan which has anger attracted of State Street businesses.

The City of Madison is working to implement Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, as part of an effort to improve the current transit system and reduce commute times..

The BRT proposed includes an east-to-west transportation corridor through downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin campus.

“When you look at East Washington or University Avenue, it’s clear that we need a different way to meet the transportation needs of our economy, our residents and our communities,” said the city’s transportation director. of Madison, Tom Lynch, at Wednesday’s meeting.

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The BRT will also improve service on the north-south line, according to Metro Transit chief executive Justin Sternberg.

“This will improve access in the densest areas of people of color throughout the city,” Sternberg said.

Sternberg also said weekday bus service will be every 15 minutes and, in some sections, five minutes. Weekend service will mainly be every 15 minutes at BRT stops.

The goal is for people not to have to worry about checking timetables as they can assume that a bus is coming soon, Sternberg said.

“It’s not a band-aid to get us through the next five years,” Lynch said. “It’s about building a framework so that we can be a fair city and one that supports our economy in the future. “

Currently, design drawings are 30% complete. To put this in context, once the design drawings are 100% complete, the group will have fully fleshed out the engineering designs, said transit planner Mike Cechvala.

The Federal Transit Administration has recommended funding for Metro Transit, which would allow Metro Transit to move to a grant deal next summer, according to Sternberg. The first construction works will begin at the end of 2022, with most of the planned construction taking place from 2023 until spring 2024.

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“Madison continues to move towards our rapid transit bus system, which will be a sustainable form of public transportation that will connect our region with an efficiency and ease that we have never seen before,” said Madison Mayor , Satya Rhodes-Conway. “We’re closer than ever to implementing rapid transit here in Madison. “

Panelists from the city stressed the need for BRT to stimulate the economy, especially given the effects of the pandemic on it.

Some attendees questioned the rationale and potential effects of the BRT on State Street, with many noting that buses should be rerouted regularly for events such as the farmers market or following soccer games.

Improvement of the central Madison business District Executive Director Tiffany Kenny asked how the downtown route would be a fixed route – a main feature of the BRT – if it was so often hijacked.

Cechvala explained that when Capitol Square or State Street are closed for events, buses will detour using the Capital Loop.

“We would like to minimize or reduce detours. We are also committed to reducing travel times and the route that has been chosen and adopted is fundamentally aimed at reducing or at least maintaining travel times in the city center, ”Cechvala said.


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