MADISON, Wis. -- The next part of Madison's Bus Rapid Transit project got underway Wednesday when city and Metro Transit officials held their first public planning meeting for the proposed north-south line.
The line would consist of 33 stations, which have raised platforms, shelters, seating and bus arrival information, and larger electric buses that would arrive every 15 minutes. It's expected in 2027.
Transportation officials laid out some proposed stops at the meeting Wednesday, at the Urban League building on the city's south side.
"I live way out on the edge of town, and so I have quite a walk to the closest bus stop," south side resident Kate Schulte said.
She wants to see a sop closer to Novation Parkway and Ski Lane, but also wanted to generally learn more about what the city has planned to bring to others living in her area.
"Some people are very car-dependent, but then there are a lot of people in a lot of apartments out there, [former] town of Madison, people like me out there," Schulte said.
Others at the meeting wanted know if the line would have access to the airport.
"I think is something that should be looked at, especially for people who would want to get across town and make that, you know, every major city you look at has that," Kirk Hoffman said. "And I think that that would really improve the areas in that sense."
According to Tom Lynch, Madison's Director of Transportation, the city is waiting on another grant application for the project.
"Of that, 80% was going to be federally funded and then 20% would be locally funded," Lynch said, "and so we're partnering with... the state of Wisconsin was going to invest (in) some on Park Street and then some other people who are able to contribute to get this all done."
According to Lynch, the city should know the status of that funding by March or April of next year.
The construction work underway right now is for the east-west line, which will run from Junction Road to East Towne through the downtown and campus area. Lynch said that should be done in the latter half of 2024.
The city is learning from that work on those east-west bus stops, which take longer to build.
"You know, they have new walls and the like, and so we want to carry the same branding, but we might modify them a little bit so that maybe they're a little easier to construct," he said.
It's hoped that the new BRT system will help the city of Madison meet its climate goals.
Residents on Wednesday said if that's the case, the city should do more for bikers when planning new lines.
"I think using like the University Avenue model of having bike lanes that go opposing traffic, that are protected bike lanes would really improve the ability for people to move around in different climate friendly transit options," Hoffman said.
There will be multiple opportunities for the public to share their thoughts on the plan, including a meeting at the Warner Park Community Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday and another at the Mainstay Suites in Fitchburg on Nov. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A virtual meeting is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 8. For more information, click or tap here.
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