• 9 Dec 2020 9:58 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    Owosso, Michigan-based Indian Trails — now in its third generation of continuous family ownership — was founded in 1910 and grew over the past century to become one of the major private bus companies in the Midwest. Now with roughly 80 buses in its fleet, the firm transports close to 2 million passengers annually through its scheduled intercity service, private charters, contract shuttles, and Michigan Flyer airport shuttle.

    But when the pandemic began to take hold in March, Indian Trails' 110 years of business was upended virtually overnight.  Read more

  • 15 Oct 2020 7:28 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    Twenty-eight community transportation projects received more than $14 million in funding through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). These projects are designed to strengthen the intermodal transportation system. Awarded projects expand travel choice, strengthen the local economy, improve the quality of life, and protect the environment by supporting non-traditional projects linked to the transportation system.

    “Thank you to a broad coalition of representatives from across Wisconsin for helping select projects that will create safer routes to school, stronger communities and more travel options,” Craig Thompson, WisDOT Secretary-designee said. “Trails and paths not only support many uses, they grow local economies and improve the quality of life.”

    A Statewide Selection Committee reviews the applications and recommends projects for the WisDOT Secretary approval.  The committee includes representatives from the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bike Federation of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Counties Association,  and WisDOT.

    TAP is a reimbursement program and are generally funded 80 percent federally, with a 20 percent local match. Federal funds are capped at the award amount listed in the table below.​​  Click here for more information.

  • 25 Sep 2020 9:21 AM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    In a private meeting today, House Democratic Leaders indicated that the House of Representatives may consider a new, approximately $2.4 trillion COVID-19 bill next week. This bill will provide $1 trillion less than the Heroes Act, which passed the House in May. (The Heroes Act included $15.75 billion of emergency transit funding.) This new legislation is an effort by House Democrats to offer a “compromise bill” and restart the COVID-19 negotiations with the White House and Senate Republicans.

    We urge you to contact your Representatives today and urge them to include $32 billion of emergency transit funding in the new COVID-19 bill.

    Although the $25 billion of CARES Act funding has served as a lifeline for public transit, more than 93 percent of these funds are obligated.

    If Congress does not provide $32 billion of additional COVID-19 emergency transit funding, more than 6 in 10 public transit agencies will have to cut transit service or furlough staff. Eight in 10 large agencies are also considering delaying, deferring, or cancelling capital projects to close their budget gaps. Similarly, nearly one-half of transit businesses expect to be forced to lay off employees without additional emergency funding. In addition, one-third of transit businesses are concerned that they may go out of business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Please click here to view APTA’s COVID-19 Pandemic Threatens Public Transit Jobs and Service Policy Brief.

    Please click here to view APTA’s COVID-19 Pandemic Threatens Public Transit Businesses Policy Brief.


    We encourage you to contact your Representative today and strongly urge the House of Representatives to provide at least $32 billion of emergency transit funding in the new COVID-19 legislation.

    To contact your Representative, please call 202.224.3121.

    Please click here for APTA’s Talking Points.

  • 17 Sep 2020 10:29 AM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 15, 2020) – Six in 10 public transit systems will need to reduce service and furlough employees in the coming months without an additional $32 billion in emergency federal funding from Congress, according to new data released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). In addition, nearly one-half of public transit industry businesses (47 percent) expect to lay off employees, and nearly one-third of transit industry businesses (31 percent) are concerned that they may go out of business if additional federal funding is not provided.

    APTA is urging Congressional leaders and the Administration to move swiftly and include at least $32 billion in emergency funding to keep systems running safely and to protect the jobs of more than 435,000 industry workers and several million private-sector jobs that support the industry every day.

     “Congress and the Administration are disregarding the essential lifeline that public transit plays in our communities. Our request for $32 billion is necessary to avoid catastrophic decisions that will only hurt our riders, our communities, and the nation” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “The industry continues to serve essential employees every day, but without additional emergency funding, many transit agencies will soon need to cut transit services and routes and furlough transit workers, leaving our communities without service and jobs when they need them most.”

    Read more here....

  • 4 Aug 2020 10:58 AM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    Washington, DC. - Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), and Mark Takano (CA-41) led 106 Members of Congress in urging Congressional leadership to support public transportation agencies, including their workers, in the next relief package addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.

    “Transit agencies have kept our economy running through these most uncertain times. Without the daily sacrifice and bravery of the many frontline, essential workers operating our transit systems, many working class families would lack access to health care, jobs, and essential services. Now, transit agencies like CTA, Pace Bus, and Metra in Chicago need our support,” said Rep. García. “Congress must support the ongoing operation of transit systems and keep our economy moving. For communities of color and working class families, public transit is a literal lifeline. We cannot afford to exclude them from the next relief package."

    More information..

  • 4 Aug 2020 10:56 AM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    Any local public transportation coalition is eligible, provided it has the support of the local APTA member(s) and makes a pledge to become a member in good standing of the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA) before receiving a grant. Membership in NAPTA is free. For this grant program, a coalition is defined as a collection of groups and/or individuals joined together for the common purpose of promoting transit. An APTA public transit system member may apply for the funds on behalf of a coalition or a coalition may apply directly for the funds. Grant applications will be solicited until August 21, 2020.

    More here...

  • 3 Aug 2020 7:53 AM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is in the process of developing its new 30-year transportation plan, called Connect 2050 and is seeking input to help shape the future of transportation in the state.

    “Transportation impacts nearly every aspect of your life,” said WisDOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson. “The time it takes you to travel to work, school or vacation, the cost of the products you buy, and your ability to get around without driving, all depend on a safe, effective transportation system. These factors affect your quality of life and we want you to be involved in planning Wisconsin’s transportation future.”


  • 24 Jul 2020 1:34 PM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    With cases of the coronavirus climbing in Wisconsin and the U.S., more than half of states have statewide mask mandates, including Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota — but not the Badger State.

    Even as more local governments enact their own mask ordinances, creating a patchwork of mask requirements across the state, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has not issued a statewide mandate. The first-term Democrat said earlier this month he was unlikely to enact such a mandate because the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down his “safer at home” order in May. That did not include a mask requirement, but the court said Evers overstepped his authority by requiring most non-essential businesses to close during the start of the outbreak.

    Some city and county governments are requiring masks in buildings and the UW System is requiring masks on campuses in the fall. 

    Here’s a breakdown of mask mandates in cities/counties near southeast Wisconsin


  • 17 Jul 2020 9:32 AM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    The Washburn County public health officer issued an advisory on Thursday, July 16, declaring people should wear masks inside buildings where people other than one's household are and in certain other conditions.

    “Due to continued community transmission of COVID-19 throughout our Region, the State, and across the Nation, the Health Department recognizes that prevention of COVID-19 in Washburn County is a shared responsibility between individuals, businesses, and community agents,” the department wrote in the advisory. “As such, Washburn County is now advising all residents wear face coverings when in public.”

    Read More

  • 8 Jun 2020 11:36 AM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    For traffic engineers, the pandemic afforded a way to study changes in traffic patterns that are typically hypothetical, allowing them to better understand traffic flows, pinpoint potential trouble spots and rethink the future.

    Chris Hubbuch

    The Wisconsin State Journal (TNS)

    Jun 8th, 2020

    Jun. 7--In late March, the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic slammed the brakes on economic and social activity, cutting vehicle traffic nearly in half overnight. 

    For traffic engineers it presented a "real-life experiment" -- a way to study changes in traffic patterns that are typically hypothetical, allowing them to better understand traffic flows, pinpoint potential trouble spots and rethink the future of urban transportation.

    "We need to learn from these tough situations and come out with a safer, more efficient, more sustainable and more resilient transportation system through better infrastructure design, system management and use of technology," said Yang Tao, traffic engineer for the city of Madison.

    Data collected by the Department of Transportation through a variety of sensors provided the lab with near real-time snapshots of the number and speed of vehicles traveling on Wisconsin's major highways.

    While outside events -- such as a big public gathering or road construction -- do sometimes create major changes in traffic, those shifts are usually localized and very temporary, said Jon Riehl, a traffic engineer and researcher with UW-Madison's Traffic Operations and Safety (TOPS) Laboratory.

    The pandemic provided a long-term window to study a system-wide reduction and compare highway performance to computer models, Riehl said, "which ultimately leads to improvement in highway design and traffic engineering."

    On Madison's Beltline, for example, rush hour can often mean bumper-to-bumper traffic jams despite hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new lanes and engineering tricks such as metered ramps.

    "We're really at that tipping point where the Beltline is super congested," said TOPS lab director David Noyce. "There really is nothing that anyone has done across the country that could show a significant enough drop ... until we got into this."

    The data show Weekday traffic fell about 40% statewide, and weekend traffic volumes were down 60% during the week of March 25.

    Average speeds crept up, though Riehl said that was primarily a function of the elimination of rush-hour traffic.

    "In general people are just returning to the speeds they normally would (drive)," Riehl said. "It goes with what we'd expect in traffic engineering.

    At the same time as it slashed automobile traffic, the pandemic response led to a surge in bicycle and foot traffic on suddenly crowded paths and sidewalks, creating a chance for planners to try out new configurations.

    "Reduced traffic volumes present an opportunity for cities to reevaluate how they're using their public right of way," said Keven Luecke, a transportation planner with Toole Design group in Madison.

    Cities including Madison have repurposed parts of streets for bike and pedestrian traffic -- and even restaurant seating.

    In a trial run of a planned redesign, the city used barrels to block off a lane of Atwood Avenue for bikes, which bicycle and pedestrian coordinator Renee Callaway said would likely remain in place through the fall.

    "This is just a really great trial of that design," Callaway said. "This has been a need that's existed for a long time."

    Tao said one of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is that transportation systems should be designed with more than just one scenario in mind, a system that can easily shift to accommodate walking and biking, loading zones, outdoor seating or surges in traffic when other roads are closed by flooding, as they were in 2018.

    Decisions about how and where to build or expand roads are made decades in advance using models based on current trends and patterns.

    "It turns out it's incredibly difficult to predict the future," said James Longhurst, a transportation historian at UW-La Crosse. "The underlying economics can change, the cost of fuel can change, technology can change -- a pandemic. This is not in anyone's traffic forecast anywhere."

    Roads are designed to handle the traffic peaks that typically occur for just a couple of hours each day when everyone heads to work or back home.

    Spreading that traffic out -- for example, by staggering work shifts -- or thinning it by having people work from home or conducting meetings over the internet is cheaper than expanding roads.

    Businesses have traditionally resisted those types of changes, but the pandemic response showed it can be done.

    "That might be more of a possibility now than people thought of in the past," Longhurst said. "It's impossible -- until you have to do it."

    Encouraging these practices would reduce pressure on the transportation system and support the region's rapid growth "in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way," Tao said.

    Longhurst notes that modes of transportation have come and gone throughout human history in response to all kinds of factors, most of which could not have been predicted.

    "Streets and transportation networks have always been shared between different users," he said. "The fact that we've gotten used to one mode ... doesn't mean that's going to be the future."

    While traffic levels were already creeping up in May when the state Supreme Court tossed out the Evers administration's "safer at home" order, it's not clear when -- or if -- it will return to pre-pandemic levels.

    There are questions about whether most people will be comfortable using mass transit, which could lead to more cars on the road. On the other hand, with large institutions like UW-Madison continuing to rely on remote instruction, Riehl thinks it may remain 5 to 10% below normal for the near future.

    "It's not going to return to normal unless we know this thing is gone," Riehl said.

    Luecke, whose firm specializes in multi-modal design, said lowering rush-hour volumes might mean roads don't need to be as wide -- or built with only one type of user in mind.

    "If those peaks aren't going to be quite as busy as they were in the past, that means we can use that space for better walking facilities, better biking facilities," he said. "We need to build our transportation systems ... in such a way that they can be flexibly reused."


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