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  • 15 Jun 2021 2:35 PM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    The nine-mile corridor will connect employment and education centers and is expected to boost transit ridership by 17 percent when it opens in 2022.

    Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) held a groundbreaking ceremony June 10 on the state’s first bus rapid transit line, the East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. When it opens in 2022, the line will connect employment, education and recreation centers along a nine-mile corridor.

    The project is funded in part through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program. In December, FTA and MCTS finalized a $40.9-million Small Starts Grant Agreement for the $55.05-million project.

    “I often talk about connecting the dots and that’s exactly what this project is all about,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers told attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony. “The BRT will make it easier to get around while providing a more sustainable project for all of us and it’s going to boost the local economy and that’s the most important thing now – to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic – strong infrastructure, robust transportation and transit systems are absolutely vital to that goal.”

    MCTS says the BRT route will operate primarily along Wisconsin Avenue, Bluemound Road and a portion of 92nd Street. Ultra-modern battery-electric buses will serve 33 individual, state-of-the-art stations located between Milwaukee’s lakefront and the Watertown Plank Road Park & Ride lot.

    In March, MCTS awarded a contract to Nova Bus to provide 15 LFSE+ buses. The first 11 of these vehicles will run exclusively on the East-West BRT line with four additional vehicles joining regular routes.

    HNTB has been working on the project since 2015 and now provides construction management on the project.HNTB has been working on the project since 2015 and now provides construction management on the project.HNTBHNTB has been working on the project since 2015, first through the feasibility study, then through preliminary and final design. The firm will now provide the project with construction management.

    “Breaking ground on the East-West BRT line is an important milestone in transit for Milwaukee County and the state of Wisconsin,” said Ashley Booth, PE, HNTB Wisconsin office leader. “The route will enhance transit access along the region’s most vital, most traveled and most congested east-west corridor, and will play a critical role in advancing the region’s multimodal transportation system in a cost-effective, inclusive and equitable manner that will support economic development and access to jobs.”

    HNTB says the East-West BRT line will average more than 9,500 weekday riders by 2035 and increase overall transit ridership in the corridor by 17 percent.

    Construction is expected to begin in June and last two seasons, with revenue service expected to begin in fall 2022.

    https://www.masstransitmag.com/bus/infrastructure/article/21226759/mcts-breaks-ground-on-wisconsins-first-brt-line

  • 11 Jun 2021 6:34 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    REGISTER TODAY 

    Deadline for registration: June 18th 

    Don't miss this great opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues while supporting our bus operators. 

    This year's event will feature training for wheelchair securement, large and small bus competitions and an Awards Banquet. 

    After a tough year, we're looking forward to reconnecting and providing important safety training.

    Come support our bus operators who have worked so hard this year!  

    Check out our web site for all the information you need.

    If you have already registered, but have not filled out the needed forms, you can access them on the web site.  

    Forms for judges and drivers, as well as the schedule for the event and information on the hotel room block, are all available on the MPTA web site

     

    The Annual Bus Roadeo brings folks together to support bus operators and improve safety.

     

    Thanks to the Office of Transit and Active Transportation at MnDOT for sponsoring the event along with our industry partners!


  • 11 Jun 2021 6:29 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    Thursday, June 24, 2021
    2 pm – 3:30 pm ET

    Join CALSTART and key transit industry stakeholders across transit for the next ZEB working group meeting of 2021 as we come together to discuss the following key topic areas:

    • Climate and Vehicle Efficiency: Does this affect my technology choices?
    • Extreme Climate Use Cases: Speakers from extreme climate areas discuss their lessons learned
    • On-Going Discussion: The Continued Pathway to Zero-Emission Buses

    Why should I participate?

    Be a part of the solution as we work together on your fleet sustainability planning for transit agencies of all sizes and regardless of where you are in the process. We are charging ahead together to make zero-emission transportation the answer and not the question. Come and join the conversation. You will not want to miss this!

    Register in advance for this meeting:

      https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcqc-ygqTosGtFjRY2KLLtPCRYqSXGAjB4m 

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

    This is an ongoing series. The next MW ZEB Working Group meeting is planned for August 5, 2021. 

    Please note this meeting is primarily for transit agencies, utilities and OEMs.

    An activity of the Midwest Zero-Emissions Bus (ZEB) Working Group and part of a series of discussions designed to tackle the challenges and harness the benefits of transitioning to zero-emission buses in the Midwest. This event is open to all transit agencies and utilities as we work together to

    transform transportation for good.

    A picture containing text Description automatically generated


  • 10 Jun 2021 11:32 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    By: Alice Reid

    Posted at 10:03 AM, Jun 08, 2021

    and last updated 10:03 AM, Jun 08, 2021

    BROWN COUNTY (NBC 26) — Brown County officials have launched a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic that's hosted on a city bus.

    Brown County Public Health announced Tuesday it's part of an effort to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible for everyone in Brown County.

    Health officials said the Wisconsin Humane Society-Green Bay Campus hosted the first mobile clinic event on Monday and Brown County Public Health was able to execute a soft launch of the clinic.

    The mobile vaccine clinic is available to those wanting to host a COVID-19 vaccination event within Brown County Public Health’s jurisdiction. Learn how to register for a mobile vaccine clinic and find more information about the bus at www.stayhealthybc.com.

    This comes through a coordinated effort by Brown County Public Health, Prevea Health, Bellin Health, N.E.W. Community Clinic, Aurora BayCare Medical Center and Green Bay Metro Public Transportation.

    https://www.nbc26.com/news/coronavirus/brown-county-covid-19-vaccine-clinic-hosted-on-a-city-bus


  • 4 Jun 2021 2:16 PM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Veterans who have a disability related to military service are now able to get a free ride throughout the Fox Cities.

    As of Tuesday, June 1, Valley Transit, which provides public transportation in the Fox Cities, is now offering free rides to service-connected veterans.

    In order to get the free ride, service-connected veterans will need to display their Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected identification when boarding.

    Valley Transit provides transportation to Appleton, Buchanan, Grand Chute, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute, Menasha, Neenah and Fox Crossing.

    The service has 18 bus routes.

    In addition, Valley Transit provides intercity bus transportation from Appleton to other major cities in Wisconsin. The Lamers Connect bus makes a stop at Valley Transit’s downtown Appleton Transit Center. The Transit Center also is a stop for the Amtrak thruway bus service, which makes a stop in Milwaukee, where riders can transfer to Amtrak’s rail service to Chicago.

    CLICK HERE to learn more about the other various services offered by Valley Transit.

    https://www.wbay.com/2021/06/03/valley-transit-now-offering-free-rides-to-service-connected-veterans/


  • 25 May 2021 8:31 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    MILWAUKEE, May 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) announced it is implementing a new air filtration system to help prevent the airborne spread of viruses – including COVID-19 – and make public buses safer. MCTS is using the Aeris Guard Bioactive Filter Treatment, a first-of-its-kind spray that coats each bus' regular HVAC filters with a special polymer that controls the host bacteria and pathogens, including those which harbors SARS-CoV-2. A single application helps control and capture bacteria for up to three months, keeping public transportation riders safe for longer periods of time.

    "We're excited to partner with Milwaukee County on this first deployment of the Aeris COVID defense system on an American public transit system," said Aeris CEO, Peter Bush. "Milwaukeeans can ride with peace of mind knowing they now receive the same protection from COVID-19 that other parts of the world have on a daily basis after adopting this technology." 

    Many public transit officials are facing obstacles when looking to improve indoor ventilation, as most existing solutions are expensive, not scientifically proven, or incompatible with existing HVAC systems. The Aeris Guard Bioactive Filter Treatment, developed by Aeris Environmental, is affordable and increases filtration efficacy without decreasing airflow or placing extra strain on vehicle ventilation systems.

    "Throughout the pandemic, MCTS has worked to ensure that buses continue to safely serve county residents," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "The introduction of this innovative air filtration treatment system is just the latest tool we're using to keep our employees and riders safe."

    Mass transit remains the most accessible and affordable option for many Americans getting to and from workplaces, hospitals, schools, grocery stores, etc. For the 28 million Americans who don't have access to cars, public transit is the only option. The CDC advises reducing indoor airborne transmission of the virus by improving ventilation and upgrading HVAC filtration, but buses, trains, and subway cars rely on heating and cooling systems which recirculate the air and can spread virus particles. Restoring trust among the public in America's public transit options through proper virus mitigation is critical to fully reopening our economy.

    Aeris Environmental is a global leader in developing green cleaning products and employs over 50 researchers, chemists, microbiologists, and medical engineers across the United States and around the world. The Guard Bioactive Filter Treatment, part of Aeris' COVID Defense System, is manufactured in the U.S.

    For more information on Aeris' Guard Bioactive Filter Treatment and the COVID Defense System, go to https://www.powertronglobal.com/covid-defense-faq/.

    For more on MCTS's response to COVID-19, please visit RideMCTS.com/Coronavirus.

    SOURCE Aeris USA

  • 10 May 2021 8:13 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    Ridership dropped by 50 percent last year as stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 concerns kept many people off public transit. Even as the economy begins to reopen, ridership remains still down 45.5 percent.

    May 07, 2021 • 

    Andrew Dowd, The Leader-Telegram

    (TNS) — Between the pre-pandemic start of 2020, government safer-at-home orders issued when the coronavirus arrived in the state and then people adjusting to life during the COVID-19 era, ridership on Eau Claire city buses ended up being down by 50 percent last year.

    Eau Claire Transit reports numbers have rebounded somewhat for the start of this year, but are still 45.5 percent below the amount of riders seen before the pandemic.

    "This is a once-in-a-lifetime situation for us in the industry," city Transit Manager Tom Wagener said about the large drop in passengers.

    From January through March, 106,248 people boarded city buses compared to 194,835 during the first quarter of 2020, including the mid-March start of the pandemic.

    It's a deep cut in ridership, but improved from last year when there were two months when the government urged people to stay home and only travel for essential purposes.

    The 452,432 passengers on city buses last year was about half the 911,440 who rode in 2019, according to Eau Claire Transit's year-end report.

    Buses have been running with seats blocked off as a precaution against spreading germs — allowing only 25 percent capacity at the start of the pandemic, later rising and staying at 50 percent. But Wagener said there haven't been reports of not enough seats for those who have been riding the bus.

    From one-time riders to frequent bus users, every category of paying customers were down in 2020. The only group of passengers growing was those riding for free, which went up nearly 15-fold due to fares being suspended from mid-March until early October to reduce the chances of germs spreading when passengers give payments to drivers.

    A major user of Eau Claire Transit, UW-Eau Claire, had times when classes were taught entirely online last year, greatly lowering use of city buses that ferried students between campus and their homes. Routes focused on UW-Eau Claire were even temporarily suspended last spring when the pandemic first hit and campus closed.

    University student use of the bus system dropped 70 percent — falling from 368,793 rides in 2019 down to 109,468 last year.

    And for the start of 2021, UW-Eau Claire student use of city buses has been about half of what it normally is, due in part to classes still being split between online instruction and classrooms.

    During the current spring semester, only 37 percent of classes have been conducted entirely in the classroom while 33 percent are being taught entirely online, according to the university. The remaining 30 percent have been hybrid classes using a mix of virtual and classroom instruction.

    Lower Fares, Budget Help Elsewhere

    Fares make up a minority share of the transit system's budget — state and federal subsidies combined are the largest portion — but remain an important source of revenue.

    Several months of not collecting bus fares last year and the dip in ridership did raise worries of a budget shortfall, Wagener said.

    Largely due to taking in less in fares, Eau Claire Transit's revenues came in $1 million lower than the $6 million budgeted in 2020.

    However, that was almost entirely offset by cost savings.

    Use of paratransit — an on-demand service that provides subsidized rides in smaller vehicles to people with mobility problems — was way down last year.

    Eau Claire Transit spent just under half of the $1.39 million budgeted for paratransit rides due to lower demand from riders.

    And even though Eau Claire's fleet of buses stuck to their schedules throughout last year, the city saw lower diesel costs for them.

    Though budgeted for $381,500, the city only spent about $174,000 on diesel fuel for buses. Wagener attributes the savings to the fleet continuing to use newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles as well as lower diesel costs.

    While that brought 2020's budget into balance, there's still the ongoing worry that Eau Claire Transit and other bus services have about how long it will take riders to return to pre-pandemic numbers.

    "The federal government has certainly stepped up to allay those fears by providing those additional monies," Wagener said.

    The nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum released reports last month about falling bus ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic and federal money that will fill holes left by lost fare revenue. The numerous federal coronavirus relief packages are providing more than $400 million in aid to transit systems throughout the state with Eau Claire's share being about $7.8 million, according to the report.

    There's no deadline for using federal money so it can be spread out over multiple years to cover shortfalls, Wagener said. The aid issued for COVID-19 is restricted to be used only for operating costs, not for new buses or other capital spending.

    However, Wagener noted that regular federal aid that Eau Claire Transit gets is more flexible, so that money could be redirected from operational costs to helping to pay for the new downtown transfer center building project.

    Full Return Unknown

    When full ridership will return to city buses in Eau Claire and elsewhere is yet to be seen.

    "Transit systems across the country are not sure what it's going to take to get people back to using public transit," Wagner said.

    The pandemic spurred more employees to work from home, reducing their use of the bus to get to work. Many service-sector employees — a key group of bus riders — had their work cut during the pandemic and businesses such as restaurants are still recovering, Wagener noted.

    "It's going to certainly take time as businesses rebound and more hiring is done and those types of things happen," he said.

    City Councilman Jeremy Gragert, who serves on Eau Claire's Transit Commission, said usual bus riders may have adopted other means of transportation — walking, biking or buying their own car — during the pandemic and could be slow to return to buses.

    "Sometimes those habits stick," he said.

    Mark Quam, president of local advocacy group Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance, expects it will likely take another year for riders to return to levels seen before.

    "I still feel there are a lot of people that are not comfortable getting back on the bus," he said.

    We're still in uncharted territory, Quam added, and factors such as progress in vaccinating the local population and variants of the virus that challenge the area's return to normal will factor into people's decisions to take public transit.

    For those who are concerned about the safety of taking buses, Wagener and Gragert noted there have been no reports of COVID-19 outbreaks stemming from them here or elsewhere.

    "Public transit — the way we've operated it in Eau Claire and across the country — is very safe," Gragert said.


    (c)2021 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

    https://www.governing.com/now/eau-claire-transit-use-still-well-below-pre-pandemic-levels

  • 6 May 2021 9:39 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    May 4—Metro Transit is considering major changes to the way it collects fares on Madison buses, including possibly moving toward a cashless system in which residents pay to ride the bus out of a prepaid account.

    The city's Transportation Policy and Planning Board heard a presentation Monday from Metro Transit General Manager Justin Stuehrenberg on a study of several ways to update the city's bus fare collection ahead of implementing Bus Rapid Transit, a high-frequency, high-capacity, limited-stop service that the city hopes to have in place by 2024.

    Under one plan, most riders would pay with either a tap card or their phones, and low-income residents would still have some options to use cash, though likely not on board the bus itself.

    As the city works toward implementing Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, Metro Transit will either need to implement a new payment system for just the BRT system or create a new fare system entirely.

    The current payment method, a traditional farebox, won't work on BRT buses because the boarding process needs to be quick for the BRT system to pay off, Stuehrenberg said. Collecting cash on board slows the bus significantly, he added.

    The goal of Bus Rapid Transit is to reduce vehicle traffic and connect the east and west sides of Madison. The system would use longer, articulated buses on city streets and some dedicated lanes.

    Stuehrenberg presented three payment options instead of the traditional farebox: The account-based system, a "proof of payment" system in which people pay for the bus before they ride, or making buses free to ride in the city.

    In the proof of payment system, riders would pay for a ticket at a station before boarding, and a fare inspector would randomly check tickets of passengers. The system would not work for the current buses, which would continue to use the farebox, Stuehrenberg said.

    Although the ticket system would have the fastest boarding process, drawbacks include having two separate payment systems within Metro Transit, racial profiling concerns, incompatibility with bus passes and cost.

    Ticketing stations, which would need to be installed at all stops, cost anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000 depending on their capabilities. Metro Transit would also need to hire and pay fare inspectors, another costly change, Stuehrenberg said.

    Metro Transit staff also recommended against making riding the bus free in Madison. Stuehrenberg said the city relies on bus fares for revenue, and eliminating the fare could result in a budget gap of anywhere from $7.5 million to more than $17.4 million.

    'Equity issue'

    Another challenge is that while a fare-free bus system usually attracts more riders, they're usually people who would have biked or walked instead of those who are driving cars, according to cities that have implemented such a system. Stuehrenberg said Metro Transit would also have to add buses to meet capacity needs because the buses "have capacity issues already."

    Security is another issue, Stuehrenberg said. When Madison implemented a fare-free period last summer, Metro Transit saw an increase in security complaints.

    Staff ultimately recommended the account-based system but acknowledged that there would be a lot of work to do to make sure the system is equitable for low-income residents who rely on using cash.

    "In many cases there are people who have no other option," Stuehrenberg said. "That's why this is a very critical equity issue that we need to address."

    Stuehrenberg said options include a half-fare program for low-income users, allowing some people to have a negative account balance and pay it off after they ride, kiosks that allow residents to load accounts with cash and a retail network where people can buy bus fair gift cards.

    Cash would continue on board for local routes but be phased out over five years as the equipment starts to fail. Stuehrenberg said the city's existing fareboxes have a limited lifespan, and the city will either have to replace them or come up with a new system anyway, even without BRT.

    Any of the plans are a long way out from gaining city approval. Up next, Metro Transit plans to gather public feedback on the proposals, then seek guidance from the transportation board and the Transportation Commission on which direction to go.

    The new system would be rolled out over the next few years with the goal of having it ready to go along with BRT in 2024.

         ___

         (c)2021 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

    https://www.masstransitmag.com/technology/fare-collection/news/21221377/wi-madison-could-consider-mostly-cashless-accountbased-system-for-bus-fares


  • 12 Apr 2021 10:53 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    The Joint Finance Committee will be holding in-person public hearings on the 2021-23 state budget as well as one virtual hearing. The hearing schedule includes:

    ·  Wednesday, April 21, 2021 The Hodag Dome, Rhinelander, WI

    ·  Thursday, April 22, 2021 UW-Stout, Menomonie, WI

    ·  Wednesday, April 28, 2021 Virtual

    The public hearings will begin at 10 am and conclude at 5 pm.  The format will be similar to past hearings. Management at each of the venues will monitor capacity. Those wishing to testify at the virtual hearing will be required to register in advance, details to come on the registration process. A portal is available for individuals to provide input: www.legis.wisconsin.gov/topics/budgetcomments as well as an email address budget.comments@legis.wisconsin.gov .

  • 7 Apr 2021 8:59 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    2021

    Midwest Zero-Emissions Bus

    Working Group Meeting

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021
    2 pm – 3:30 pm ET

    Join CALSTART and key transit industry stakeholders across transit for the second ZEB working group meeting of 2021 as we come together to discuss the following key topic areas:

    • Infrastructure Planning For Your ZEB Deployment: Utilities speak about the next steps
    • Microgrids – Resiliency and Ensuring Operations: Keeping transit moving everyday
    • Open Discussion: The continued pathway to zero-emission buses

     

    Why should I participate?

    Be a part of the solution as we work together on your fleet sustainability planning for transit agencies of all sizes and regardless of where you are in the process. We are charging forward together to make zero-emission transportation the answer and not the question. Come and join the conversation. You will not want to miss this!


    Register in advance for this meeting:

     https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwqdO-uqTMqG9wjfMZbR2iEAe7jaKW_cUv_

     

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

    This is an ongoing series. The next MW ZEB Working Group meeting is planned for June 24, 2021.

    Please note this meeting is primarily for transit agencies, utilities and OEMs.

    An activity of the Midwest Zero-Emissions Bus (ZEB) Working Group and part of a series of discussions designed to tackle the challenges and harness the benefits of transitioning to zero-emission buses in the Midwest. This event is open to all transit agencies and utilities as we work together to transform transportation for good.

    A picture containing text Description automatically generated

     


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