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  • 30 Jan 2023 9:56 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Transit Equity Days

    Rides on La Crosse buses are free from Monday to Saturday this week, part of Transit Equity Days, a celebration centered on Rosa Parks’ birthday, Feb. 4, emphasizing access to public transportation as a civil right.

    Rides on Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit buses, which run to Prairie du Chien, Viroqua and Tomah, will be free on Wednesday.

    A news conference with Mayor Mitch Reynolds and local transit advocates at 1 p.m. Monday at Grand River Station will kick off a week of events oriented around public transit and its connections to issues including socioeconomic inequality, climate change, accessibility and labor.

    Susan Gaeddert, community program director with 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, an environmental and land use advocacy group, will lead a program titled “Transit Equity and Climate Action” on Tuesday online at 7 p.m.

    MTU Transit Manager Adam Lorentz and La Crosse Area Planning Committee Executive Director Peter Fletcher will speak online Wednesday at 2 p.m. about the MTU and SMRT bus systems.

    Throughout the week, local elected officials from La Crosse and Onalaska will ride the bus for one hour shifts to talk with drivers and riders.

    A schedule for elected officials’ bus “office hours” and registration links for the online presentations can be found at LaCrosseTransitAdvocates.org.

    The website also includes links for passengers to thank local transit employees and to share their experiences riding local public transportation.

    A display at the public library will showcase information and books about transportation equity, climate change and the history of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott. A display at the Grand River Station highlights La Crosse historian Terry Hicks’ history of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 519 and other labor organizations.

    In addition to this week’s events, the La Crosse Area Transit Advocates regularly pairs new riders with experienced passenger through a buddy program. Interested residents can email LaCrosseTransitAdvocates@protonmail.com or call 608-315-2693 to participate.

    “We’d like to get people to try the bus if they haven’t,” said Cathy Van Maren, member of La Crosse Area Transit Advocates. “I think a compelling reason is to take climate action, but it could be you’re interesting in taking the bus because of driving in the snow and slush and finding a parking space.”

    The La Crosse Area Transit Advocates also shared several statistics regarding access to cars, road safety and carbon emissions.

    “What do we subsidize? Parking for private cars or public transportation or bicycle infrastructure?” said Van Maren. “How do we expect people to get places, and how do we build our cities so they can get places?”

    The Wisconsin Department of Transportation estimates that 30 to 40 percent of the city of La Crosse’s population over the age of 15 are not drivers, meaning they do not hold a drivers license or do not own a vehicle per Department of Motor Vehicle records.

    According to a White House fact sheet published in 2021, Wisconsin residents who rely on public transportation spend over 60 percent more time commuting, and non-White households in the state are nearly six times more likely to use public transportation.

    The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates the average yearly cost to own a car in 2022 was nearly $11,000.

    The La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility last year provided nearly 760,000 rides on fixed routes and over 18,000 rides through the paratransit service for passengers who cannot access regular bus routes due to disability.

    The SMRT bus system provided over 18,000 rides and the Onalaska/Holmen/West Salem Public Transit Taxi provided over 48,000 rides last year.

    All three systems saw increased use from last year.

    https://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/la-crosse-kicks-off-week-dedicated-to-transit-equity/article_51bc4e1a-9e7e-11ed-be8c-bfcce64f24d0.html
  • 26 Jan 2023 8:33 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    On Friday, President Biden gave a speech to the US Conference of Mayors at the White House, which included an unexpected pat on the back to Madison for the city's efforts to improve the climate and public health with the purchase of 46 electric buses. (See link to the video below.)

    "I am delighted that the President recognized Madison as a national leader on climate action and reducing harmful greenhouse gases. We couldn't do it without the strong partnership of the White House and the federal Department of Transportation," said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

    Madison's planned bus rapid transit (BRT) system will be fully electric. The City placed an order for the zero emission buses in the summer of 2022. They are expected to begin arriving summer of 2023, while BRT will launch in 2024.

    With each of Metro’s current buses using approximately 5,000 gallons of diesel each year, electric buses are expected to conserve nearly a quarter million gallons of fuel annually. Without diesel engines, transmissions, intakes or exhaust systems, electric vehicles can also save up to $125,000 in maintenance costs per vehicle during the lifetime of the bus.

    Converting Metro’s fleet to electric is one of the most important things the City can do to take climate action. Transportation is responsible for about 40% of Madison's greenhouse gas emissions and diesel exhaust is a significant contributor to childhood asthma and other health conditions.

    Mayor Rhodes-Conway attended the US Conference of Mayors this week. She also took the gavel as the national Chair of US Climate Mayors, a group of over 500 Mayors working to accelerate climate action in the United States.

    Transcript of Biden Remarks

    BIDEN: Transportation Secretary Pete is here. Look, we know the -- better known as “Mayor Pete” -- (laughter) -- but he’s working with many of you to address those quality-of-life issues that really matter to people you serve, not just through big bridges and highway projects, but through -- though they’re important -- but also through smaller projects that are critical to your cities. Like in Madison, Wisconsin, where Mayor Rhodes-Conway is buying 46 electric buses, replacing those dirty diesels -- bad for the health of the environment and making it clear. No, I'm serious. It's a big deal. (Applause.) There you are, okay. (Applause.)

    MAYOR RHODES-CONWAY: Thank you, Mr. President.

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. And it means our kids aren't going to be inhaling that diesel fumes when they get off the bus. For real. It matters. Environmentally, it matters, as well.

    https://www.cityofmadison.com/news/its-a-big-deal-president-biden-mentions-madison-in-recent-white-house-speech

  • 23 Jan 2023 8:36 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Lyft (copy)

    As early as March, Juneau County residents could be able to request a ride through two major rideshare apps with the help of federal dollars.

    Uber and Lyft services will be government subsidized temporarily within the county; approximately $300,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds will be expended over the course of two years to bring drivers, and passengers, together.

    “A lot of us have apps on our phone that we use in other communities and they’re ready to go. You request a ride and then a driver comes,” said Health Officer Amanda Dederich. “Now whenever I pull my app up, there’s not a driver available in our area because they think the demand isn’t there.”

    For every ride begun or completed in Juneau through the Uber or Lyft apps, drivers will receive an extra $5. Residents and visitors could request rides 24/7. A fare will still be paid by the rider to the driver, with the additional compensation made between the county and the driver on top of that cost.

    The Juneau County Health Department believe that the extra cash will attract more drivers to the area and create new opportunities for residents.

    “We’re hoping that by the time this pilot project is over, it’ll be a sustainable model,” Dederich added.

    The program was proposed by the Transportation Community Action Team, which was formed by the health department in response to a county-wide resident survey. When asked what determines community health, over 12,000 residents identified a strong economy and accessible transportation as top priorities.

    The health department estimates that up to 30,000 residents could make use of the service per year if enough drivers were attracted by the offer. The county board was presented with research done by the city of Mauston in December that showed 40% of its residents “would definitely or probably use” Uber or Lyft if it was available. Another 40% would consider using ride-share if they had more information.

    Mauston discussed creating its own rideshare subsidy, but the city ultimately couldn’t afford it with last year’s budget.

    Juneau County’s new program isn’t unique by any means. Public transportation agencies from New Jersey to Florida have turned to subsidizing Uber rides where bus routes are too costly or difficult to maintain.

    Rural communities have gotten in on the action, too. In Innisfil, Ontario, a program to subsidize Uber rides was launched in 2017. The cost began as a flat rate between $4 to $6 for passengers in an area serving 36,000. By 2020, the price tag for subsidizing Uber overtook what it would have cost for the municipality to buy and operate its own public buses.

    Tara Ennis, a supervisor with the health department, stated that while $300,000 might sound like enough money to buy the county a bus or a fleet of taxis, the pay for a driver would only be going toward a handful of individuals.

    Instead, the pilot project could create a gig employment opportunity for dozens of county residents.

    “We’re not just putting money into a private company; we’re putting the money into our residents as employment opportunities,” she said. “If we can invest this, and have multiple vehicles available at peak times, we’re serving more people in the long run.”

    Ennis added that the county is already aware of residents who work for Lyft and Uber but commute to the Wisconsin Dells and other neighboring cities where demand for rideshare is higher. The subsidy program, and assistance from the county to raise awareness for it, could help bring those drivers home.

    Juneau County Finance Director Lori Chipman noted at the county board’s last meeting that the subsidy program will likely dissolve in late 2024 as ARPA funds must be fully obligated in the next two years and spent by 2026. If the program is unsuccessful, the county will find another use for the remaining funds.

    “Best case scenario, the money is eaten up in the first year. That means there’s a market for it and it’s sustainable,” stated Dederich, who has since left the health department.

    The county board has already voted to support the program, but there are still kinks to work out. Initially, only residents with smartphones will be able to access the app to request Uber or Lyft services. Ennis believes that community outreach and education efforts, such as events held at local libraries, could breach the divide.

    “We know that it won’t be the program that fixes everything for everyone,” Ennis said. “But we know that if you aren’t over 60, have a documented disability or live outside of Mauston, you literally have no access to transport right now.”

    “We’re hoping this will fill that major gap.”

    https://www.wiscnews.com/community/are-rideshares-the-future-of-juneau-countys-public-transit/article_e1d323e2-10b9-5a02-8de9-e3d67961082f.html


  • 19 Jan 2023 9:31 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)


    Debra Gillispe is the founder of Mothers Against Gun Violence. She lost her son, Kirk Bikham Jr., to gun violence in the city in 2003. 

    Twenty years later, she’s still doing all she can to share support and resources for others going through the same thing. 

    Through a partnership between Mothers Against Gun Violence, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Carroll University and the Milwaukee County Transit System, interactive murals have gone up at two Milwaukee bus stops. 

    People can scan the QR codes on the bus stop mural. It takes them to a webpage where those impacted by gun violence across Wisconsin share their stories. 

    The bus stop murals are located at 12th and State Streets and 6th St. and Highland Ave. A third interactive mural is in the works. 

    “I see these stories and I’m just so honored that we were able to share their voices,” said Gillispe. 

    Gillispe said over the years, she’s noticed that gun violence has gotten worse in the city. 

    “I think it’s very important to show that gun violence isn’t just a Black or brown issue,” she said. “It’s a people issue. That’s why these voices represent our community.” 

    She said her faith and giving others a voice has helped in her own grief process. 

    “I’m just blessed that I healed because grief is unexpected,” said Gillispe. “God used it for good. He used it to elevate other survivors’ voices.” 

    The artist behind these murals is Natalie Derr, a local Milwaukee artist. 

    She listened to the personal interviews to gain a better understanding of each victim so that she could represent them accurately through the murals. 

    “The best reward has been talking and speaking to the people that have actually gone through this so I can get a better idea on how to create an artwork that really reflects that person,” said Derr. 

    She was connected with Gillispe through her former professor at UWM. 

    “Working with Debra has been such an honor and such a privilege,” said Derr. "She’s such a beacon in the community for all that she stands for and all of the people that she supports.” 

    Gillispe said these interactive murals are just one way to give survivors a voice and to inspire change in our communities one story at a time. 

    If you’ve been affected by gun violence and would like to share your story, you can reach out to the project, here.

    https://spectrumnews1.com/wi/milwaukee/news/2023/01/17/interactive-bus-stops-elevating-voices-of-gun-violence

  • 16 Jan 2023 8:09 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    RIDING IN STYLE.

    Eau Claire Transit, the city’s bus system, recently announced it is adopting a new account-based ticketing with “tap and ride” technology as well as up-to-date dispatch and vehicle location systems.

    Masabi is a British company that has been bringing Fare-Payments-as-a-Service (FPaaS) to public transit systems and has recently worked in part with Durham, North Carolina-based TransLoc to redesign the payment system for Eau Claire Transit. Masabi and TransLoc were selected by Eau Claire Transit for their innovative account-based fare payment system that will change how Eau Claire does transportation.

    A mobile app will be made available by January to allow riders to purchase tickets and passes, but alternative cash payments can still be made at select retail locations across the city. As of March 31, 2023, paper tickets or passes will no longer be able to be used. Masabi will install fare validators across the Eau Claire Transit fleet which makes boarding a bus as easy as swiping your smartphone or smartcard. 

    Meanwhile, TransLoc will be creating an easy navigational system that allows riders to find buses through an app for real-time trip planning and receive announcements for upcoming bus stops while riding.

    All this is in an effort to make Eau Claire Transit more accessible and user friendly, with the hope that the changes implemented will benefit the public transportation system and its riders.

    https://volumeone.org/articles/2022/11/01/307164-eau-claire-transit-switching-to-tap-and-ride

  • 12 Jan 2023 9:55 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    He is the first Green Bay Metro bus driver hired - and he drove his last shift today. Dale Detry is retiring, and he was awarded a plaque for his perfect driving record with a high safety score rating. He got into zero accidents during his entire career.

    He started in 1973, when Green Bay bought its transit system from Wisconsin Public Service.

    On his last day, Dale Detry observed: “I was always very dedicated and uh, got my rest in order. You got to be real disciplined to do something like that. Just doesn’t happen by accident.”

    He added that his favorite part of the job was helping people: “Everybody’s real grateful, especially if they’re new and they don’t know where something is and I point it right out to them right away. I give them the time points and when to come back and they’re really appreciative.”

    One of many of Dale’s experiences is driving the 1996 Super Bowl-winning Packers in the parade after the game.

    Patty Qiewiz, Transit Director of Green Day Metro, was on hand to say good-bye: “Dale has been some of individuals everyday contacts, personal contacts, you become friends and those types of things so people could always rely on him and they’re really going to miss him.”

    https://www.wbay.com/2022/12/30/green-bay-metro-bus-driver-retires-after-50-years/


  • 9 Jan 2023 8:02 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)


    Governor Tony Evers has announced that $5 million in state and federal funds will go toward improving transportation for seniors and people with disabilities in 2023. 

    The funding will expand a program called the 5310 Enhanced Mobility Of Seniors And Individuals With Disabilities Program. The program helps non-profits and public transit provide more accessible transportation. For many residents in Brown County, the funding will help meet an essential need.

    "It increased our funding for almost half for next year," said Ker Vang, Senior Planner for the Brown County Planning Commission.  

    In the state's four large "urbanized" areas, Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee, the county administers the program, while Wisconsin DOT administers the funding in more rural areas.

    In Brown County, one of the recipients of the 2023 funding is Green Bay Metro. In the past, the program has helped Green Bay Metro acquire new wheelchair securement devices and ADA accessible bus shelters. Now, Green Bay Metro will be receiving funding to purchase an audio component to go with a new display board that will be at the various bus stops. The audio component will read the bus schedule to riders.

    Another recipient is Curative Connections, a non-profit that serves seniors and adults with disabilities. The non-profit will receive funding for operational assistance with their transportation services. Another portion of the funding will go to Mobility Management of Brown County.

    “Mobility Management of Brown County also received half of this funding to do research, find new ways to help partners find new ways to manage their programs as well too," Vang said.

    For an area with a large senior population, accessible transportation is essential for many residents. That's why Vang says this funding is critical for the county to be able to accommodate them.

    "A lot of them need transportation for services such as medical, or even daily appointments to get their meds from the store, or to even go to social activities," Vang said.

    You can learn more about the program at browncountywi.gov.

    https://www.nbc26.com/news/local-news/gov-evers-announces-5-million-in-funding-to-improve-transportation-for-seniors-those-with-disabilities


  • 5 Jan 2023 7:26 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)


    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.

    https://www.channel3000.com/madison-state-leaders-break-ground-on-citys-bus-rapid-transit-system/

  • 12 Dec 2022 9:25 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Transit tech companies are bringing digital fare payment and other technologies found in some of the largest public transit systems to smaller cities.

    Eau Claire Transit in Wisconsin, for example, is partnering with Masabi and TransLoc to offer not only an account-based digital fare payments as a service (FPaaS) to riders, but also technology that allows riders expanded trip planning and real-time bus tracking.

    Meanwhile, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) — serving the Aspen, Colo., region and the largest rural public transportation provider in the U.S. — will use the Masabi digital fare payments system as well, offering discounts and other perks. The new platform will launch Nov. 21, said Jamie Tatsuno, communications manager for the RFTA.

    "With the RFTA Tickets app, we are hoping for faster boarding times and a contactless fare payment system," said Tatsuno, adding, "We are making our tickets and passes more accessible to our riders who may not be able to access a ticket vending machine or sales outlet to purchase the discounted fare media, being that we are in a rural area."

    RFTA and Eau Claire Transit will use Masabi's Justride platform, a cloud-based plug-and-play technology used by more than 150 transit agencies across nine countries.

    "Justride is the largest and most advanced platform in the world, which means all agencies can get the same ticketing systems as the largest cities for a fraction of the cost — and in a fraction of the time — and still receive continuous updates to ensure their solution is the best it can be," said James Gooch, head of marketing for Masabi.

    Justride is an app-based system that is entirely contactless. Masabi will install the appropriate fare-validator hardware across the bus fleets. Riders who want to continue using cash can make deposits into their accounts at select retail locations.

    In Eau Claire, TransLoc will provide tech upgrades to benefit both riders and operators. Riders will get real-time bus location data; while operators will have access to automated passenger counting onboard buses as well as computer-aided dispatch and other features.

    "Just a few years ago, this technology would have been out of reach to all but the largest agencies," said Brian Zanghi, CEO of Masabi, in a statement. "Today, we are delivering this cutting-edge solution to towns and cities all over the world in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. We are delighted to have been selected to provide this system with our partner TransLoc, and look forward to working with Eau Claire Transit in the years to come."

    In Colorado, the RFTA will not be partnering with TransLoc. The Masabi system will make discount opportunities available to riders. For example, single one-way and round-trip tickets get discounted 25 percent across all RFTA regional routes, 30-day zone passes for routes to and from Aspen and seasonal zone passes. Also, when riders first download the new app and create an account, they will receive a free one-day bus pass good for any of RFTA's regional routes. Funds can be added to rider accounts via the app when a bank card is attached, or depositing cash into the accounts at retail locations.

    RFTA's current ticketing process involves slipping cash into the fare box on buses, or using a "stored value card" purchased at transit vending machines, said Tatsuno, adding, "We do not have any sort of digital ticketing as of yet."

    The new digital ticketing will happen alongside the existing fare collection system, with RFTA continuing to accept current stored value cards, 30-day zone passes and cash aboard all buses.

    https://www.masstransitmag.com/technology/fare-collection/news/21287329/us-digital-fare-payment-tech-is-finding-its-way-to-small-agencies


  • 8 Dec 2022 10:17 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 998, the union that represents MCTS bus drivers and mechanics, have reached an agreement on a 3-year contract. The contract includes significant wage increases, increased work/life balance and minimal changes to healthcare.

    MCTS Interim Managing Director Denise Wandke said, “The company and the union have been working together since March to address wages, healthcare, security and work/life balance for operators and maintenance employees. Starting my employment with MCTS as an operator, I know the hard work and passion my fellow bus operators share. I think this contract shows our commitment to our employees and desire to collaborate with the union. I am proud of each and every employee and their amazing contributions to this community.”

    “On behalf of all Milwaukee County residents, I commend the Milwaukee County Transit System and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 for reaching a fair and equitable agreement that results in uninterrupted transit service for all residents,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “The transit system is an integral part of our community and I’m proud to stand in support of both MCTS and the ATU, as we continue serving passengers across all of Milwaukee County.”
     
    Highlights of the 3-year agreement include:

    • Wage increases – Wages will increase each year of the contract.
    • Competitive healthcare benefits – Percent contributions for 2023 and 2024 remain at 15% with slight increases to co-pays and deductibles.
    • Pension – A healthy pension that provides a great deal of financial stability for employees’ futures.
    • No Takeaways – The agreement does not take away anything from employees. MCTS did not request any concessions from the union.

    MCTS is hiring additional drivers, offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus. A paid training class starts each month. Candidates are welcome to apply at RideMCTS.com/Careers.

    https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/milwaukee-county-transit-system-reaches-agreement-with-atu-local-998/

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