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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 5 Dec 2022 8:09 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    At the November 22 Common Council meeting, Alder Heck, Alder Foster, Alder Vidaver and Mayor Rhodes-Conway introduced legislation to promote transit-oriented development along high capacity transit corridors in Madison. Transit-oriented development (TOD) is a pedestrian-oriented, compact, mixed-use development style focused along high quality public transit. It typically includes a mix of housing, office, retail, neighborhood amenities and other uses within walking distance of a transit station.

    The legislation would create a TOD overlay zoning district, based in the policy direction of the City’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan, Imagine Madison, to focus much of our future population growth to areas best equipped to serve it – along public transit corridors. Madison has grown by nearly 70,000 people since 2000, and is expected to grow by another 70,000 people in the next two decades.

    “Part of providing affordable housing is making sure it’s connected to affordable, accessible transportation options,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “By focusing development in areas with great transit service, we can offer future residents walkable and amenity-rich neighborhoods, and avoid making traffic worse.”

    The current proposal permits modest, context-sensitive increases to allowable residential development limits within about a quarter-mile of corridors with frequent transit service – that is, transit that comes at least every 15 minutes. It also removes minimum parking requirements, adjusts site layout regulations, and makes small adjustments to heights to accommodate a more compact development pattern.

    “While we are proposing some increases in density, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” said District 2 Alder Patrick Heck. “This legislation makes small, incremental adjustments to the base zoning that allow us to accommodate more growth without dramatically changing neighborhood character.”

    As an example, in some areas, the TOD overlay will allow a 6-story building instead of a 5-story building, or a 4-story building instead of a 3-story building. In single-family neighborhoods, the TOD overlay will allow a duplex instead of just one housing unit.

    “The TOD overlay will help the City deliver on its housing and sustainability goals,” said District 15 Alder Grant Foster. “We are creating the opportunity for more housing to be developed, and making it easier for residents to opt for the bus instead of their cars.”

    To keep up with population growth, the City estimates it needs to be building around 2,000 new housing units per year. However, the average number of new units created each year has fallen short of that target over the last decade, which puts pressure on house prices and rents.

    “We desperately need more housing, and this is one of many tools that can help deliver it,” said District 5 Alder Regina Vidaver. “An increased supply of housing and the ability to get around without a car are both important aspects of keeping Madison affordable in the long-run.”

    The proposed legislation will be reviewed by the Transportation Policy and Planning Board on December 5 and by the Plan Commission on December 12. It is scheduled to return to the Common Council for a final decision on January 3.

    To learn more about the proposed TOD overlay, visit

  • 28 Nov 2022 9:23 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)


    The annual "Stuff the Bus" event returns for it's 25th year. The event helps feed thousands of families in need throughout the Milwaukee area. 

    The event fills two Milwaukee County Transit System bus with groceries. According to Feeding America, one in eight people in Milwaukee don't know where their next meal is coming from and one in four children don't know where their next meal is coming from. 

    You can help by stopping by Pick 'n Save on 6462 S. 27th Street in Oak Creek to purchase and donate a non-perishable food item, or Round Up your grocery purchase to the nearest dollar or donate $1, $5 or $10 at the in-store registers, including self-checkout! The event goes until 6 p.m. Wednesday.

    "Stuff the Bus is a staple of the holiday giving season," said Patti Habeck, President and CEO of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. "We are thrilled to partner with Pick ‘N Save, Audacy and Milwaukee County Transit System to help provide so many meals for local families."

  • 17 Nov 2022 9:11 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    The Milwaukee County Transit System is introducing a new type of bus to its fleet, unveiling its first battery-powered electric bus this week.

    This method of power means zero emissions, a priority guiding the future of public transportation in many large cities across America.

    Officials say that this bus will be in service starting next year as part of Wisconsin's first rapid transit line under the MCTS Connect brand. Their stated goal is to make this a step towards making public transit more sustainable.

    Martin Larose, President of Nova Bus says that access to this type of vehicle changes the public transit environment in a major way, adding, "Electric buses are really a game-changer. Putting a bus in service obviously right off the bat is good for the environment, you remove cars from the city."

    He also praised the new bus for being cleaner and quieter.

    MCTS began the construction and infrastructure of this project last year, purchasing 11 battery-powered electric buses.

    Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said in March 2021 that alternative fuel buses would represent the future of public transit in Milwaukee, saying, “We’re excited to transition towards greener, more sustainable and more efficient transit for our community. Innovative technologies like this help in our mission to advance racial equity and enhance the quality of life through great public service.”

  • 14 Nov 2022 9:18 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    The Neenah Transit Center will move two blocks east starting Monday.

    Reader question: Why is the Valley Transit bus transfer station in Neenah moving? Was that requested by Valley Transit or the city?

    Answer: Valley Transit, the public transportation service in the Fox Cities, will relocate the Neenah Transit Center closer to Neenah City Hall starting Monday.

    The bus transfer station currently is located on the east side of the 100 block of South Church Street. It will move two blocks east to the south side of the 100 block of East Doty Avenue.

    The move will affect riders on Route 30 (Neenah-Menasha), Route 31 (East Neenah), Route 32 (West Neenah), Route 41 (West Fox Valley) and Route 10 (Neenah-Oshkosh) operated by GO Transit.

    The city of Neenah requested the move. Traffic engineer James Merten said the relocation will:

    • Address traffic safety concerns around the existing bus shelter and on Wisconsin Avenue.
    • Provide riders with access to public bathrooms at City Hall.
    • Cause fewer disturbances to transit operations during special events.
    • Add street parking in a high-demand area (South Church) in exchange for sacrificing street parking in a relatively low-demand area (East Doty).

    The major drawback of the move is the new shelter will not be heated.

    Neenah spent about $8,300 to prepare the new site and assemble the shelter. The total accounts for new pavement, traffic signs, lighting and a wireless security camera.

    Neither the city nor Valley Transit has committed to make the new location anything more than a short-term solution.

    Neenah plans to reconstruct East Doty between Commercial and Oak streets in 2024, so it wants to evaluate how the station functions in the new location before proceeding with the design of the new street.

    "It gives us a good chance to look at how it would operate here," Public Works Director Gerry Kaiser said.

    Ron McDonald, general manager of Valley Transit, said Valley Transit will work with Neenah and the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to determine whether the new site is the optimal location.

    "It's going to be permanent until we decide that there's another alternative that's better," McDonald said.

    Post-Crescent reporter Duke Behnke answers your questions about local government. Send questions to or call him at 920-993-7176.

  • 7 Nov 2022 1:33 PM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Metro Transit

    A sweeping redesign of the Madison’s bus system will benefit minorities as much as white residents and low-income neighborhoods as much as other neighborhoods, a new equity analysis says.

    Older adults will also benefit from the coming Metro Transit redesign, but not as much as others; non-English speaking residents will benefit as much as English speakers; and those with disabilities may benefit less than others, a study by the city’s consultant, Jarret Walker and Associates of Portland, Oregon, says.

    But critics say the city’s outreach process failed to truly engage marginalized communities, that some people could get less service due to inadequate geographic coverage, and that a more in-depth equity analysis is needed to ensure riders most in need are being better served by the redesign.

    The network redesign is intended to address longstanding inequities in public transportation, reflect future needs and complement coming bus rapid transit, or BRT, city officials have said.

    In the early morning of June 8, the City Council voted 14-6 for a system redesign that promises to deliver more frequent and consistent service while using fewer routes and transfers, and better links to outlying areas, and eliminating buses from lower State Street. For some riders, the changes will mean longer walks to the bus stop and less service. But the council also approved a series of amendments intended to reduce those hardships.

    After the plan was approved, the private consultant conducted a federal Title VI equity analysis to see if there are any disproportionate impacts on specific communities.

    The study’s positive results were anticipated because the city designed the system with the goal of providing better, more useful service with an emphasis on improving travels times for communities of color and low-income people, city transportation director Thomas Lynch said.

    But Susan De Vos, president of Madison Area Bus Advocates, said the analysis has serious methodological problems, inadequately addresses qualitative issues, and should be considered inadequate and be improved.

    “We went into the redesign favoring a ‘ridership’ model for the new network and then failed to deliver the service frequency it requires,” added Jonathan Mertzig, a member of Madison Area Bus Advocates.

    The city has scheduled a final online public hearing on the consultant’s analysis, bus stop placements, route start and end times, and route name updates for 6 p.m. Wednesday. The system changes will go into effect in June 2023.

    Access to jobs

    The redesign and amendments envision BRT — a high-frequency, high-capacity, limited-stop service that would run on city streets and dedicated lanes with special stations — as the backbone of the new network, which is a separate initiative. The initial 15.5-mile, east-to-west BRT route will run roughly from East Towne to West Towne, while a future route will run from north to south.

    The proposed network reconfigures bus service in all parts of the city with a completely new set of routes designed to better meet the goal of connecting the most people with the places they need to go in a reasonable amount of time, city officials said.

    For the equity study, Metro considered how often a bus stops near each neighborhood and how many jobs or places riders can get to from where they live. The location of jobs is a good way to see where people can travel because the places that people work are also the places many people go to shop, eat and get other services, officials said.

    Overall, the analysis found people will be able to travel to more places using the bus. Residents will see a 27% increase in the number of times a bus comes to their neighborhood, and 47% of residents will be able to travel to many more places, which means being able to get to 10,000 or more additional jobs on a 45-minute trip, the analysis says. But 3% of residents will be able to travel to fewer places, which means getting to 1,000 jobs or less in 45 minutes, it says.

    “I don’t think we realized how much better job access would be for most of our communities, including marginalized communities,” Lynch said.

    But DeVos, Mertzig and others have concerns.

    “The planners and city leadership will point out that they’ve delivered 15-minute high frequency on some routes, but if you’re outside that core network, basically on the central Isthmus, I suspect this network and proposed service levels will actually be worse for many riders,” Mertzig said.

    Who benefits

    The analysis also found:

    • Minorities will benefit as much or more than white residents. Neighborhoods with more minorities will see a 30% increase in service compared with 26% for white people; 45% of Black and white people, 56% of Asians, and 52% of Hispanics will have many more places they can travel by bus.
    • Low-income residents will benefit as much or more than other residents. Low-income residents will have 20% more service and other neighborhoods 32% more, but the latter number is high because the current transfer point system counts trips twice. Sixty-seven percent of low-income residents will have many more places they can travel by bus compared with 40% of other residents.
    • Older adults will benefit, but not as much as others. Thirty-six percent of older adults will have many more places they can travel to by bus, but 4% will have fewer places. But that’s partly because older adults are more likely to live in single-family homes and areas where housing is more spread out and less likely to be near main streets where more bus trips are planned.
    • People with disabilities may benefit less, but limited data makes it somewhat unclear. Available data shows 41% of those with disabilities will have many more places they can travel to by bus and that 4% will have fewer places.

    “The analysis shows it will allow more people to get to more places at more times,” Lynch said.

    “The analysis shows that the plan will work as is,” he said. “However, there are some minor adjustments to the ends of a few routes. They will be presented Nov. 9. When we do the soft roll out, scheduled for May, it may give additional information to make refinements that can help everyone.”

    Overall, the city’s community engagement was flawed because it relied heavily on online meetings while many transit riders lack sufficient access to online media, De Vos said. Further, the system is under resourced, critics said.

    “The network probably could be OK if actually funded to be a high-frequency system for more of the city, but the current budget fails to actually deliver that result,” Mertzig said.

    The biggest concern, Lynch said, is that a lot of detailed work remains to make sure the system is ready for such a substantial overhaul. “But Metro is confident that we can make that schedule with adjustments being made as needed,” he said.

  • 3 Nov 2022 1:51 PM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Metro Bus State Street

    The City of Monona is considering handing off transit responsibilities to the City to Madison.

    Monona currently has two forms of public transportation, the Monona Express and the Monona Lift. The Express is a bus service that runs between the city and Capitol Square, the UW campus and all three Madison hospitals. The Lift gives door-to-door service to seniors and people with special needs.

    Under a new proposal, Monona would phase out its own service and Madison Metro Transit would take over. Madison Metro would service Monona Drive through two routes, and the rest of the city through a newly proposed Monona Route.

    The new route would circle the city every hour, clockwise down Stoughton Road, then running past City Hall and Monona Grove High School to connect with the rest of the Madison Transit Network at Cottage Grove Road.

    The Monona Express only runs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and only on weekdays. That is compared to Madison Metro, which runs every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. City officials said that Monona’s service is prone to interruptions due to limited staffing, compared to Madison which is more consistent.

    The fare for Madison Metro is cheaper. Monona charges a $3 fare, and $2 for seniors and students. Madison only charges a $2 fare, with discounts for seniors, students and employers. Additionally, Madison does not accept transfers from Monona Transit but Madison tickets are transferrable to connected routes in the city.

    Similar to the Express service, the Monona Lift only offers service during weekdays while the Metro Paratransit operates every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, Monona’s current service allows riders to call ahead when a ride is needed, and riders can use the service without any special requirements or applications.

    Metro Paratransit requires riders to fill out an application, and riders must qualify to ride. Paratransit rides are available anywhere in the Metro service area, but Lift service is limited to a one-mile radius around Monona.

    Monona’s current transit service foots a $105,000 bill to the city’s property taxpayers each year, with other costs being subsidized by local, state and federal sources. The number is tied to a five-year contract, and services and prices can change every five years. Should the city switch over to Madison Metro service, taxpayers would face a bill between $78,000 and $86,000 with a 3% year-on-year increase.

    The city will hold two public meetings this month to discuss the proposal, one on October 20 and another on October 25. Both meetings will be held at the Monona Public Library Municipal Room at 6 p.m.
  • 25 Oct 2022 7:43 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Enjoy the Ryde Racine’s promotional video about their use of electric buses!

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