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  • 12 Jun 2023 6:46 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    dogs on bus.png

    You may notice some furry friends on your next commute.

    Adoptable dogs Sparky and Kate from the Marathon County Humane Society are being featured as part of a new ad campaign on one Wausau Metro Ride bus.

    "There's a lot of very very fine adoptable dogs in our community and this is a great way to showcase it," said Matthew Rosenbloom-Jones, director of Wausau Metro Ride. "I mean what better way than larger than life on the back of a bus that's kind of in your face, you can't ignore it. "

    He says he's hopeful this ad goes out of date soon, if it means these dogs can find homes.

  • 8 Jun 2023 6:44 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    An Amtrak train

    A new Wisconsin Department of Transportation plan calls for connecting Madison to Milwaukee with a passenger rail line, as well as expanding rail service to eleven Wisconsin communities, including in the Fox Valley region.

    The 2050 rail plan, released by the department Tuesday, forecasted that if several lofty rail expansion proposals were approved, annual ridership would increase from over 1.1 million riders in 2024, to over 3.3 million in 2050. But, that assumes all the projects within the plan would be approved by state lawmakers. 

    Connecting Milwaukee to Madison with a passenger rail line has long been discussed and debated at the state level. But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said last year he would not support using any state funding for a train connecting the two cities. Vos could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

    Lisa Stern, the chief of railroads and harbors at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said the rail plan is a federal requirement to ensure state rail projects are eligible for federal funding. The 2050 plan is an update to the 2030 rail plan. The department is also now seeking public feedback on the goals within the plan until June 10. After that, it'll go to the Federal Railroad Authority for final acceptance.

    "Once the plan is finalized, then those projects that are listed become eligible for potential federal funding in the future," Stern said.

    The state plan says the department will continue to search for new ways to improve rail service for Wisconsin residents. It comes after the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided $102 billion for improvements to passenger rail in the next five years.

    "It's very challenging … to develop new transportation corridors of any type, so part of it (2050 plan) is helping the department and the state determine where we want to put our funds for preservation and improvement," Stern said. 

    The report noted that Wisconsin's urban and suburban areas are growing, while the population in rural areas is declining. 

    "As urban areas grow, the desire and viability of passenger rail connecting urban areas within and outside of Wisconsin are likely to increase," the report said. "The desire for commuter rail within urban areas is also likely to increase as these populations grow."

    Watertown, Madison, Granville, West Bend, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Neenah, Appleton, Green Bay, Eau Claire and Menomonie are all cities that would benefit from the creation of an inter-city rail system in the state, according to the report.

    In 2010, Wisconsin got a federal grant to build a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee. But former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, successfully blocked it from becoming a reality.

    Studies or projects to start passenger rail service, connecting Madison, Watertown and Waukesha County to Milwaukee, Chicago, and/or Minneapolis/St. Paul have been included in state and regional plans for over three decades, the report said. 

    The Fox Valley is the third-largest metropolitan area in Wisconsin, but that area does not currently have intercity passenger rail service and is only served by Amtrak’s Thruway Interstate-41 bus service. 

    Officials in seven northeast Wisconsin cities in December asked federal authorities to consider creating an Amtrak passenger rail line from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Municipal leaders requested the region be incorporated into the federal administration’s Corridor Identification and Development program, an initiative included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that aims to identify new passenger-rail corridors.

    The 2050 plan also mentions the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) 2050 long range transportation plan, which has similar lofty goals for the state when it comes to increasing rail service.

    Benjamin McKay, the interim executive director at SEWRPC, said the commission uses long-term plans from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as part of its planning. McKay said the commission's 2050 plan also calls for the creation of a rail service connecting Milwaukee to Madison. 

    "Providing those alternatives makes Southeastern Wisconsin a more attractive destination for new residents, labor force and employers and as well, it would have a benefit for Madison in the same regard — better connections between the fast-growing Dane County and Madison area and the economic hub of Southeastern Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area," McKay said,

  • 5 Jun 2023 10:11 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Oshkosh City Cab co. car driving for Go Transit Go Connect

    Since April 3, Go Transit has offered Oshkosh and Neenah residents a micro-transit service called "Go Connect."

    The service is similar to rideshare transits or cab services, except this one is government-funded and has a fixed rate of $5 per one-way trip.

    Riders of the bus system may recognize the route from their days riding Route 10. But that bus route was removed after ridership numbers dwindled post-pandemic.

    Go Transit's transit operations manager Steve Tomasik said what was once a bus route carrying 30-40 daily passengers turned into a commute that would average around 14 riders — and often the bus would be empty.

    “The old run basically wasn't working. So, Route 10 became very expensive. There was not a lot of ridership on it, and we had a lot of empty bus miles to and from on a fixed route schedule," Tomasik said.

    That's when the micro-transit solution was proposed.

    "So, the intent was to have something more fiscally responsible, something more economical and more efficient for people to use,” said Tomasik. "Much more economical and green way of going about it instead of driving an empty bus back and forth."

    Another difference between this option and traditional cab service is these rides must be booked at least one day in advance.

    Driver Jodi Hudson works as a dispatcher and a driver with Go Connect. She said one thing she really appreciates about this option is her interactions with her passengers — some of which have already become regulars in the month that Go Connect has been available.

    "Well, you tend to build relationships with them, the more often you see them, and you know, you just have great conversations — the ride goes so much smoother and faster," Hudson said. "They appreciate the service. A lot of people are in need of the service. So, they're very grateful that we're able to get them to and from."

    Go Connect is a pilot program, with Winnebago County agreeing to fund the program for a year. After that, it will be evaluated, and future funding plans will be determined.

    Go Connect micro-transit service is offered from 6:15 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays. It does not run on Sundays.

    “I think it gives you satisfaction knowing that you were able to help people that are dependent on the transport and it's very fairly priced for people as well," Hudson said.

    For more information about the program, or to go online to book a ride, you can visit the Go Connect website.

  • 1 Jun 2023 9:22 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    City of Eau Claire

    The Eau Claire city council has allocated American Rescue Plan funds for several different initiatives in phase two, including to address affordable housing and transit issues.

    Council approved $675,000 towards the community pass pilot program. Its goal is to help the city's public transit system bounce back from a reduction in ridership and allow more people to afford rides on city buses.

    They also voted yes to allocating $350,000 to a fund that would provide lower income residents a path to home ownership, as well as funding a downtown street ambassador program and community development corporation.

    "It would be kind of similar to the community foundation where we would provide some seed money, look to private donations to match that, and then look to grow it over coming years, and then that money would be used in different aspects for affordable housing," said city of Eau Claire project manager Billie Hufford. 

    They also approved setting aside roughly $87,000 in total for several equity, diversity, and inclusion projects. These include the creation of a BIPOC steering committee, having EDI focus groups, and bringing in a consultant to help create an EDI plan for the city and the community.

    As we reported, the city also approved putting $500,000 toward a new daytime homeless shelter in the city. 

    ARPA funds is money from the federal government given to help people economically bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. It was passed by Congress in 2021.
  • 30 May 2023 6:49 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Walkable Communities

    On the weekend in March when Brittany Glover would have turned 34, her mother stood on the same busy road in Atlanta where her daughter died six months earlier.

    Glover, a flight attendant with a passion for clothes, was coming from an entertainment venue during the early morning of Sept. 19, 2022. She had lived in Atlanta for only 48 hours when she was hit by a driver while crossing Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, which elected officials and activists call one of the most dangerous streets in the city. The driver fled and hasn't been identified.

    “Brittany didn’t have to die," her mother Valerie Handy-Carey said, surrounded by friends and supporters as speeding cars whizzed by. Atlanta, she said, needs to do more to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

    She's far from alone in her call to action.

    With pedestrian deaths in the U.S. at their highest in four decades, citizens across the nation are urging lawmakers to break from transportation spending focused on car culture. From Salt Lake City to Charlotte, North Carolina, frustrated residents are pushing for increased funding for public transportation and improvements that make it safer to travel by bike or on foot.

    “We already hit the point of diminishing returns,” said Roby Greenwald, a public health professor at Georgia State University. “We’re going to have to examine other transportation modes that make that easier or else we’re just going to have to deal with increased congestion, increased traffic fatalities and increased air pollution emissions.”

    Nationwide, the number of pedestrians killed in 2022 rose 13%, and cyclist fatalities were up 2% for the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    “There are plenty of people who must bike and walk for transportation because that’s their only means of transportation,” said Rachael Panik, a Georgia Tech transportation systems engineering researcher.

    Panik previously worked as a transportation planning consultant for cities across the southeast. She said there was unmet demand for biking and walking in most of them.

    “More people want to bike, more people want to walk, but they can’t because it’s either not safe or the destinations that they need to get to are too far and they can’t,” she said.

    Quanisha Ball, 31, was struck by a car and killed in November while crossing a street on her way to work in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur. The driver was identified but never charged.

    “I wanted to cross that street to see how dangerous it is. It’s dangerous,” said Courtney Thompkins, Ball's mother. Pushing a button gives pedestrians less than a minute to cross seven or eight lanes of traffic, adding that speed bumps, better lighting and longer crossing times would help.

    Atlanta City Councilman Jason Dozier said he realized he could have been another victim — he was hit by a car while riding a bike.

    “That experience really did a lot to radicalize me,” Dozier said.

    He and 10 council members have proposed zoning legislation to prevent drive-thrus and gas stations from being built around the Atlanta BeltLine, a bike and pedestrian trail that runs through numerous city neighborhoods.

    Some city leaders across the country are already taking big steps to reduce car traffic.

    In 2021, the city council in Charlotte, North Carolina, adopted a plan to expand their transit system by adding shaded bikeways, bus routes and commuter rail lines in the next two decades. One goal is to reduce single-person trips by 25%, said Shannon Binns, president of Sustain Charlotte, a nonprofit organization focused on local sustainability.

    “It’s an ambitious goal, but of course it will require us to really make a lot of different decisions budget-wise to give people those opportunities to get around without a car,” Binns said.

    Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has made pedestrian safety a priority for 2023 after her city saw an increase in fatalities in 2022 and a tragic start to 2023. In the span of a few weeks, two sets of kids on foot and a pair sharing a bicycle were all hit by drivers but fortunately survived, she said.

    “The accidents that have happened from vehicles increasing means that we have to go beyond the way we’ve been operating," Mendenhall said.

    A local mobility advocacy group called Sweet Streets Salt Lake City has worked with the city council to drop the speed limit on residential streets and is pushing the city to create a network of byways that cater to walking, biking and jogging.

    “We really do believe our policy choices are killing people, and the way we stop doing that is by changing those policies,” Sweet Streets Board member Benjamin Wood said.

    Despite some encouraging signs, advocates face high hurdles to creating walkable and transit-friendly communities.

    The Utah Transit Authority implemented an on-demand service that is a combination of a public bus and ridesharing. It's been popular, but it's underfunded.

    “We didn’t realize it would be as wildly popular as it is, and now, we’re turning away rides because we can’t afford to run more service,” the transit authority's transportation division director, John Larsen, said during a January work session.

    In Charlotte, city council members have complained about the lack of progress with the 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan.

    The city must gain local funding to access federal dollars for the mobility plan. One option is to create a referendum for a local sales tax, but city officials are already hearing it would be unlikely to win approval from the state legislature. Dana Fetton, a lobbyist for Charlotte's city government, recently told council members if they presented the transit plan as is to the legislature, it would be “dead on arrival.”

    Winning funding for safe or sustainable transportation projects is a challenge nationwide.

    The Georgia Department of Transportation first devotes resources to projects considered state priorities, such as interchange and bridge improvements. That leaves lower tier projects — like improving the parkway where Glover was fatally struck in Atlanta — to compete for funding.

    Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway had more than 1,900 crashes over the course of a decade before construction began to make it safer by narrowing parts of the roadway from four lanes to three, according to the Georgia Transportation Department. The changes won't affect the stretch where Glover was killed.

    Standing on a corner of the busy street with a handful of birthday balloons and flowers, Handy-Carey said she was worried about whether any improvements would come.

    “I’m feeling that the state of Georgia, the city of Atlanta, Fulton County, didn’t value me or my daughter’s life,” she said. “Even after Brittany was killed, you still have more people dying. How many more people have to die?”

  • 24 May 2023 2:12 PM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Milwaukee's new bus rapid transit line called CONNECT 1 will debut in June with dedicated bus lanes down Wisconsin Avenue and Bluemound Road, Milwaukee County Transit System said in a news release Thursday.

    Wisconsin's first bus rapid transit line that makes use of dedicated bus lanes and real-time signage at stops will debut this summer in Milwaukee.

    New electric buses will power the line, called CONNECT 1, to bring riders between downtown and western suburbs via Wisconsin Avenue and Bluemound Road. Amid the new line's introduction, a few existing bus lines will change. The Gold Line will be eliminated entirely, with many of its riders expected to transition to Route 30 or be served by the new BRT line, according to a news release from Milwaukee County Transit System.

    The changes take effect on June 4 alongside the introduction of a summer schedule meant to improve service reliability and expand job access, MCTS said. Ahead of the launch, transit officials invited the public to a virtual information session on May 22.

    The new BRT line is meant to provide faster and more frequent bus service along Wisconsin Avenue and Bluemound Road between the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and downtown. The new line features 33 stations with daytime buses arriving every 10 minutes on weekdays and 15 minutes on weekends. In evenings, the buses operate every 20-30 minutes. The line runs between 4:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., MCTS said.

    Meanwhile, Waukesha Metro Route 1 is being extended from Brookfield Square to the regional medical center. Riders will be able to transfer between MCTS and Waukesha transit without needing to pay again.

  • 4 May 2023 6:32 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Wausau will provide additional bus service for Horace Mann Middle School, a move approved Thursday by the Transit Commission.

    Metro Ride added the service after more riders to Horace Mann began using the city’s buses. A change to school bus service happened in January.

    The formal change occurred on Jan. 27 though the additional middle school-bound riders were using the city’s buses service a week before that, Metro Ride’s Operations Manager Megan Newman told the Transit Commission Tuesday.

    The Wausau’s transit service has seen a significant uptick in riders in the southeast side of the city since about the third week of January, Newman said. The route along the southeast side has seen a significant increase – about 40% – but there has not been a similar increase in use along the 10th Street route, Newman said. “We have added one bus to that route permanently,” Newman said, bringing the total to three.

    Yellow buses operated by the transportation company First Student were serving Horace Mann School and Metro Ride was picking up Wausau East High School riders before the change. School district officials requested Metro Ride pick up riders going to and coming from Horace Mann in addition to the high school because of yellow bus service cancellations, Newman said.

    Like most schools districts in the state and the country, the Wausau School District is grappling with disrupted school bus services, with a shortage of drivers among the leading causes. The challenge for the district is likely to increase when Wausau implements its school restructuring plan.

    The Wausau School Board approved the restructuring proposal last month, prompting significant concern over future availability of buses and the duration of rides. Because the school district is mandated to provide busing to students who live beyond a fixed distance from their assigned school, shifting to one junior high on the east side of the river and a single senior high to the west would mean that every single student in the district would be eligible for mandated busing for several years.

    On Thursday, Transit Commission Chair Becky McElhaney asked how long the additional service would continue and whether district officials are going to address the yellow bus service.

    Newman said that the additional service will probably continue next year too since the staffing issues have not improved. Transit Commission member Carol Lukens also said the staffing problems for First Student have not improved, based on the feedback she received from teachers.

  • 1 May 2023 6:26 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)


    Eau Claire Transit has switched to TransLoc, a bus tracking app that shows all active routes, the location of buses and gives an estimated arrival time to bus stops near the user.

    The same features can also be accessed by computer through the Eau Claire Transit webpage.

    Tina Deetz is the new transit manager for Eau Claire Transit and has been overseeing the switch to TransLoc.

    “There are GPS pucks in all buses that track the bus,” Deetz said.

    While there are posters around campus advertising the new app and people have been using the new app, this is not the first bus-tracking app that Eau Claire has used.

    Deetz said the process of setting up TransLoc started last summer under the oversight of the previous transit manager.

    “We went out for bid for a new bus tracking system when we learned DoubleMap would be ending,” Deetz said.

    Eau Claire Transit previously used the DoubleMap app. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, Ford Motor acquired Journey Holding, the corporation that owns and manages DoubleMap, in 2019.

    “Ford Smart Mobility LLC plans to integrate Journey’s products and technologies with Durham, North Carolina-based TransLoc, a Ford-owned provider of technology products for public and private transit operations,” Jeff Newman wrote for the Indianapolis Business Journal.

    Double Map is still available in the app store and Ford Motor has not announced any plans to discontinue the app. DoubleMap’s website URL redirects to TransLoc’s website.

    “We do miss how easy and convenient DoubleMap was, but we do not have an option any longer to use the service,” Deetz said.

    Eau Claire Transit had to move on, with or without the bus tracking technology.

    “TransLoc was the only bus tracking company that responded to our bid,” Deetz said.

    TransLoc, according to their webpage, describes their company as providing “mobility solutions at the speed of life.”

    The process of fully integrating TransLoc into Eau Claire has not been finished yet, Deetz said. There have been many difficulties in implementing TransLoc. 

    Deetz said they have had problems with the automated passenger counts (APCs), automated passenger announcements (APAs), tablet functionality and internal sign displays connecting with the front head signs.

    “It almost seems anything that could go wrong with all the technology communicating has gone wrong, a TransLoc employee stated this morning. We are working through the problems with TransLoc,” Deetz said.

    Though there have been some problems behind the scenes, Deetz said they are working hard to make this a good tracking system for the community. Deetz has even used the app herself.

    “The app itself is currently working well,” Deetz said. “There are some features I like better than DoubleMap and some I would like to make better.”

    More information on the Eau Claire bus system can be accessed on the Eau Claire Transit webpage.

    More information on TransLoc can be accessed through a separate webpage.

    Heffernan can be reached at

  • 27 Apr 2023 6:19 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    "It's been a few years in the works but with our growth down here we needed a place to get our buses out of the weather," said Pat Daoust. BART is a public transportation service that operates in Ashland, Bayfield, Price and Oneida County. Even though the bus system is running smoothly there is an issue in finding a place to store their buses in the winter time. "Right now three of the four buses are stored outside and we are unable to find adequate storage for them," said Pat. 

    Pat Daoust the transit manager says finding a facility for the buses was his number one priority it took a while to find a spot but eventually he did. "I looked for a grant to build this building and I was able to get a grant, the city of Park Falls donated the property to us to use as local share towards the facility," said Daoust. As you can see there is nothing behind me, but grass and trees however by spring 2023 this grassland will turn into a garage facility to store buses in Park Falls.

    "The maintenance facility will be just over 6000 square feet, it will have a little bit of office space but mainly its going to garage storage," said Pat.

    BART bus drivers like James are excited for this new building. It will be a convenient location for drivers and they won’t have to drive lengthy distances to get inspections done. "We will no longer have to drive them up to Ashland to get them worked on," said James Powell. "Mechanics are going to come down here so that’s going to be a lot nicer for everyone involved," said Powell.

    With this project in the works, Pat hopes that BART will continue to help out the Park Falls Community. "It’s great, I love when we keep growing," said Pat. "I love the fact that BART is so well received and we are able to get these projects going and done, because it just goes to show how important BART is to all of the community, he added.

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