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  • 29 Jun 2021 11:56 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    LA CROSSE, Wis. (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden visited Wisconsin on Tuesday on a mission to drum up support for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package hammered out by a bipartisan group of legislators but still in need of wide support in Congress to become reality.


    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at the White House in Washington

    Biden went on a tour of a public transit facility in La Crosse, a city in western Wisconsin, highlighting the plan's investment of some $48.5 billion in public transit to reduce commute times and help reduce emissions, while boosting growth and wages.

    Afterward, he is to speak about local gains from the deal, including funds for electric buses, replacement of some 80,000 lead water service lines in Milwaukee and better access to high-speed internet, a White House official said.

    The bipartisan package also includes $109 billion in funding for roads, bridges and other major projects, including the 1,000 bridges rated "structurally deficient" in Wisconsin, the official said.

    Biden will also note that the plan won't hike the gas tax or raise taxes on Americans earning under $400,000 a year, the official said.

    Biden is attempting to keep up the momentum for a legislative proposal that Democratic congressional leaders believe will reach a critical stage in the second half of July.

    "I expect the last two weeks of July to be very busy weeks, when we will deal with the president's proposals on the jobs plan and the family plan, hopefully," the No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, told reporters on Tuesday.

    House and Senate Democrats hope to have infrastructure legislation done and on its way to Biden's desk by the end of September, a Democratic aide said.

    Senate Democrats are aiming to pass bipartisan legislation and send it to the House, before breaking for an August recess.

    The Democratic president told a virtual fundraising dinner on Monday that the infrastructure package would create millions of good-paying jobs and help U.S. firms to compete in the global economy.

    "We're in a race for the 21st century, for who is going to have the strongest economy," Biden told the event, hosted by the Democratic National Committee. "And the rest of the world's not waiting around. We have more to do, and we have to move fast."

    Biden also vowed to continue fighting for additional spending that would expand child care and paid leave to more Americans and offer two years of free community college to those who qualify.

    Biden, under massive pressure from Republicans, on Saturday withdrew a threat to not sign the bipartisan bill unless it was accompanied by a separate package focused on what he calls "human infrastructure," including expanded home care for the elderly and disabled.

    Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the White House had been in touch with Democratic leaders about the two measures but Biden had not spoken about the issue with U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who wants Democrats in Congress to abandon their plan to link the two measures.

    With the Senate divided 50-50 between the two parties, a move by McConnell against the bipartisan bill could cost it the 60 votes it would need to pass under Senate rules. Democrats aim to pass the companion measure through a process called reconciliation that requires a simple majority.

    Psaki said Biden's trip to Wisconsin was intended to convince Americans about the importance of both packages. He will also travel to Michigan on Saturday.

    Wisconsin first stop on Biden's tour to sell $1.2 trln bipartisan infrastructure plan (yahoo.com)




  • 28 Jun 2021 10:02 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    The conference and exposition promises to be one of the largest in-person industry events to be held in more than a year.


    Registration is open for the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) TRANSform Conference and EXPO to be held in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 7-10, 2021.

    The last iteration of the show took place in Atlanta in 2017. The triennial event has been delayed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The uncertainty caused by the pandemic saw the show rescheduled twice and the host city change, but APTA is embracing the adage “the show must go on” as it prepares for the event at the Orange County Convention Center.

    “We are thrilled to finally reconvene as a community, in person,” said APTA’s email notifying potential attendees of registration availability. “We can't wait to welcome you back!”

    EXPO is free to attend, but registration is required. Rates to attend the TRANSform Conference are available through the show's link.

    Sign Up Here!

  • 25 Jun 2021 9:56 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    The White House says the deal represents the largest federal investment in transit and the most in Amtrak since the passenger rail service’s inception.

    The Biden Administration has given its blessing to an infrastructure deal reached by a bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators. The deal represents a $973-billion investment over five years and $1.2 trillion over eight years in baseline and new spending.


    President Joe Biden addresses the press on June 24 following the release of the bipartisan infrastructure deal framework.

    Screenshot from White House live stream


    The framework of the deal was released by the White House June 24 and includes $579 billion in new investments. Transportation spending accounts for $312 billion, plus an additional $266 billion in other infrastructure spending, such as water, broadband and resiliency investments.

    During a press briefing to discuss the infrastructure deal, President Joe Biden noted its was a “huge day for one half of my economic agenda, the American Jobs Plan.” The plan, as outlined by the president earlier this year, originally called for transportation investments of $621 billion over eight years.

    “We’ve devoted far too much energy to competing with one another and not nearly enough energy competing with the rest of the world…Investments that we will be making as a result of this deal are long overdue,” said President Biden. “Neither side got everything they want in this deal…that’s what it means to compromise.”

    What is included in the deal is $49 billion in public transit investments, an additional $7.5 billion for school and transit fleets to transition to electric and $66 billion for passenger and freight rail investments.

    A fact sheet on the bipartisan framework from the White House stated the deal represented “the largest federal investment in public transit in history and is the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.”

    Other highlights of the framework include $20 billion for infrastructure financing, which the White House says will “create a first of its kind Infrastructure Financing Authority that will leverage billions of dollars into clean transportation and clean energy.”

    The framework also includes $47 billion for resilience investments that the White House notes will “prepare more of our infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, cyber attacks and extreme weather events.”

    According to the White House, the following options are under consideration as ways to pay for the proposed infrastructure investment:

    • Proposed Financing Sources for New Investment

    • Reduce the IRS tax gap

    • Unemployment insurance program integrity

    • Redirect unused unemployment insurance relief funds

    • Repurpose unused relief funds from 2020 emergency relief legislation

    • State and local investment in broadband infrastructure

    • Allow states to sell or purchase unused toll credits for infrastructure

    • Extend expiring customs user fees

    • Reinstate Superfund fees for chemicals

    • 5G spectrum auction proceeds

    • Extend mandatory sequester

    • Strategic petroleum reserve sale

    • Public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds and asset recycling for infrastructure investment

    • Macroeconomic impact of infrastructure investment

    President Biden reiterated his pledge to pay for the infrastructure deal without raising taxes on earners making less than $400,000 per year.

    During a press briefing on the infrastructure deal, President Biden noted there was “plenty of work ahead to bring this [deal] home” but added “the American people can be proud today.”

    The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) commended the effort to produce the deal and APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas issued the following statement:

    “Our nation demands forward-looking infrastructure investment that modernizes public transit and passenger rail systems and meets the growing and evolving mobility demands of communities. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help our communities meet growing mobility demands, create family-wage jobs, expand U.S. manufacturing and supply chains, and grow the economy.

    “While optimistic about the proposed bipartisan framework, APTA reiterates its strong support for H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act, which will put American infrastructure on a footing to compete with any country in the world. APTA strongly supports the bill and its critical investments for surface transportation infrastructure, including $109 billion for public transportation and $95 billion for commuter rail, Amtrak and other high-performance rail. The INVEST Act will put the country on a path to increase access to opportunities for all Americans and build more equitable communities, while also addressing the environmental and sustainability challenges facing our communities, nation, and the world.

    “The time is now to make transformational investment in our national infrastructure that will provide staying power to drive our economy for years to come.”

    Read More Here

  • 15 Jun 2021 2:35 PM | WIPTA Admin (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 | WIPTA Admin (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 | WIPTA Admin (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 | WIPTA Admin (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 | WIPTA Admin (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 | WIPTA Admin (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 | WIPTA Admin (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

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