City and state leaders on Thursday broke ground on Madison’s first bus rapid transit line set to connect the east and west sides, one of Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s key initiatives since assuming office.
The push for rapid transit has been decades in the making, Rhodes-Conway said during a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon, and one that she said will better position Madison to compete with other cities of its size while also helping meet the city’s climate goals.
“Someone who relies on transit to get to work shouldn’t have to make an hour and 15 minute commute trip one way,” she added. “We all deserve mobility choices to get us to where we need to go in a reasonable amount of time.”
Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson praised the bus rapid transit system as a critical new link that will connect residents to jobs and cultural centers.
The rapid transit system, which coincides with a larger route redesign within the Metro Transit umbrella, aims to reduce travel times and better connect major employers and key parts of the city, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Madison College campuses, downtown, Hilldale Shopping Center and East Towne and West Towne malls.
It will also run down State Street, which has drawn concern from businesses in the pedestrian corridor.Once completed, 60-foot articulated buses will run every 15 minutes in dedicated lanes with greater distances between stops, according to the city. The north-south route is still in development.
Construction is set to continue through 2024. The city hopes to have the east-west line running by the fall of that year.