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  • 24 Apr 2023 7:54 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Door County Connect – Public Transit | Door-Tran, Your Doorway to Mobility, Wisconsin

    It is still years away, but you could soon see people traveling between Chicago and Sturgeon Bay without ever having to use their own car. Addressing the Door Peninsula corridor's transportation needs is part of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's 2030 long-range multimodal plan. Much of the WisDOT plan calls for the continued service, preservation, and maintenance of current transportation aspects like area roadways, the Washington Island Ferry, and bicycle/pedestrian routes. The plan also calls for the expansion of rail throughout the region, including an extension of the current Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee to extend north through the Fox Cities and Green Bay. From there, the plan calls for a bus route between Sturgeon Bay and the Green Bay rail station and other routes stretching from Marinette to Milwaukee. Noting how transportation needs have changed in big cities, Jon Jarosh from Destination Door County says a bus line between Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay would be great. Still, additional local investments would be needed to handle the visitors once they arrived.

    According to Forbes magazine, the number of vehicles on the road could drop from 247 million in 2020 to 44 million in 2030. The plan's third phase includes a bus route that would stretch from Green Bay to Gills Rock, with stops in Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay.

  • 24 Apr 2023 6:28 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.

    McElhaney said city officials are happy to help the students and families and take up the extra load.

  • 20 Apr 2023 7:51 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Madison Metro - Wikipedia

  • 17 Apr 2023 9:00 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    There could eventually be a direct bus link from downtown Waukesha to places like the lakefront or Summerfest in one transfer. Buses could use dedicated lanes that would get travelers to their destinations faster.

    Ike Wanters lives in Milwaukee and works in Waukesha. He said his commute  – "an hour and 45 minutes" – takes up most of his day. He's one of an estimated 1,400 daily riders who take Waukesha Metro buses.

    "We used to have more commuter service from folks coming from Waukesha County, going to downtown Milwaukee," said Allison Bussler, Waukesha County Public Works director. However, some of those folks are working from home now."

    Bussler said ridership levels haven't fully rebounded since the COVID-19 pandemic. She's excited by the prospect of Waukesha County connecting with an innovative bus rapid transit line – BRT for short. It launches in neighboring Milwaukee County this June.

    "It’s more frequent and faster service," said Donna Brown-Martin, Milwaukee County Department of Transportation director. "The frequency of that service allows us to give headways in the 10-15 minute range."

    The Milwaukee County Transit System line will have stops near the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and get commuters to downtown Milwaukee on electric buses. A proposal could see an enhanced route added from the Waukesha Metro Transit Center to connect with the MCTS line that extends east to the lakefront.

    "It just makes sense to look at that link – should we continue that service on down Bluemound – because we already have some features in place for bus rapid transit, like a dedicated transit lane has been on Bluemound for a long time already," said Bussler.

    Bluemound is the county's most frequented stop for public transportation, Bussler said. Getting people through the corridor faster could help solve another issue.

    "We really have a worker shortage in Waukesha County. We’ve heard that from our businesses, and they’ve asked for any assistance in helping to get people who need jobs to the job openings in Waukesha County," said Bussler.

    Riders like Michelle Shulfer said they're onboard: "It would be a lot easier if there was a bus going down into Milwaukee."

    The public's feedback could bring faster, more frequent service. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission is hosting a virtual meeting Wednesday, April 12. Officials are looking for feedback not just on routes, but on things like bus stop lighting and Wi-Fi access.

  • 13 Apr 2023 9:00 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Green Bay reducing bus fares to encourage ridership

    The Green Bay Transit Commission on Wednesday announced they'll reduce bus fares for the rest of 2023, starting April 1.

    Monthly passes for adult, elderly and disabled residents will be reduced by $20.

    “An adult pass that’s typically $39 a month is now going to be $19 a month. Our reduced fare, which is for the elderly, and disabled, which is typically $29 a month, will now be $9 a month,” said Patty Kiewiz, Green Bay Transit director, at a press conference.

    The one-way cash fare for para-transport will also be reduced in half, going from $4 to $2.

    Money from the CARES Act — which was introduced to help with economic fallout during the COVID-19 pandemic — was used to support the fare reduction.

    Kiewiz said one reason the commission reduced fares is due to lower ridership.

    The number of Green Bay Metro riders dropped during the pandemic. Even now, ridership is still only at 65% of normal levels.

    “We’re really hoping that this will jumpstart people into getting back and utilizing public transportation and hopefully attract new riders,” said Kiewiz.

  • 10 Apr 2023 9:00 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Milwaukee County is modernizing its bus fare collection system, aiming to make transit equitable for residents. 

    Bus riders can pay for their fares through WisGo, a new fare collection system, starting Saturday, April 1.

    Everyone with a plastic WisGo card or the Umo mobile app will ride for free after reaching daily, weekly and monthly caps. Riders currently paying with an M-card have through the end of September to transition to the new system. 

    Milwaukee County leaders gathered on Wednesday to announce the launch of WisGo and its partnership with Waukesha County, which is joining the fare collection system. Leaders touted a system that’s equitable for riders and predicted it would help return ridership to pre-pandemic levels. 

    “Historically, only those who could afford to pre-purchase discount passes to ride the bus got the best value. But with WisGo, these inequities are being addressed through fare capping. Now, everyone pays the same rates no matter how many times they ride,” County Supervisor Priscilla Coggs-Jones said in a news release. 

    Milwaukee County, like public transit systems across Wisconsin, has faced a years-long slide in ridership and revenue that only worsened as remote work options expanded during the pandemic. While Milwaukee County ridership is recovering from the lowest pandemic-era numbers, it’s still lagging behind its earlier status. 

    The new fare collection system is powered through the Umo Mobility platform and is used around the world in places such as New York and London.

    The technology has made transit in those cities easier to navigate as ridership recovers from the pandemic levels, said Bonnie Crawford, Umo’s vice president and general manager.

    “People expect technology. We’re used to connecting to technology in all of the ways that we engage in our neighborhoods, whether that’s paying for your coffee or buying your groceries, and this is really that next step for Milwaukee County and the region,” Crawford said. 

    Riders can scan their phone or WisGo card on tap-and-go validators onboard buses, which will determine how many times a rider has paid a fare and automatically deduct the lowest amount owed. The validator will also tell riders if their fund balance is low.

    Riders will also be able to use WisGo cards and the Umo app on Waukesha Metro Transit buses. Waukesha County is the first to join the regional fare system.

    “Transit is something that’s extremely important for a big segment of our population. It gets a lot of people to work; gets them to the doctor; it gets them to the grocery store; and without it, I don’t know how we would really function,” said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly, adding that the two counties aim to make transit efficient. 

    Under WisGo, riders will immediately see lower costs.

    The regular fare — for ages 12 to 64 — will be $2 per ride, down from $2.25. Under WisGo, it will be capped at $4 per day, $19.50 per week and $72 per month.

    The reduced fare — for ages 6 to 11, 65 and older and those with qualifying disabilities — will be $1 per ride, down from $1.10. It will cap at $2 per day, $11 per week and $32 per month under WisGo. Learn more about reduced fares here

    M-Card or cash riders will continue paying regular per-ride fares of $2.25 or reduced fares of $1.10 until the transition period ends Sept. 30. After that, the cash fare will drop to $2 per ride or $1 under the reduced fare.  

    “The way that you’re going to get riders on board is to ensure that no rider is left behind, and that’s really a commitment we have here in Wisconsin and throughout the world,” Crawford said. 

    The Umo Mobility app will replace the RideMCTS app. The app connects to other modes of transportation like Uber and provides real-time tracking of Milwaukee County and Waukesha County buses. It accepts credit and debit cards, along with Apple Pay, Google Pay and WisGo cards. 

    The WisGo card is an alternative to the Umo app and will replace the M-Card. The cards will be sold and available for reloading at nearly 100 locations, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores.

    M-Card users can exchange cards for a free WisGo card from April 1 through June 30. After that, the card will cost $2. Reduced fare riders will receive a WisGo card in the mail. Riders with Commuter Value Passes and U-Passes are automatically enrolled in WisGo.

    Riders will not be able to store value on the M-Card starting Aug. 31, and the Milwaukee County Transit System will stop accepting the card on Sept. 30. MCTS CONNECT, Milwaukee County’s bus rapid transit service that launches June 4, will not accept M-Cards. 

    Riders can still pay with cash on all bus routes, but those paying cash will not qualify for fare caps.

    Regular fare replacement for WisGo cards will cost $2, and reduced fare replacement cards will cost $5.

    Ambassadors will assist riders with downloading the Umo app or getting a WisGo card. 

    For more information

    Virtual and in-person sessions explaining the program are slated for April 6, April 22 and April 28. You can sign up at

    You can also visit the following resources for information on WisGo: Timeline and overview of WisGo How to download the Umo app Where to pick up a free WisGo card through June 30 Quick tips For minors, seniors, and persons with a disability For Transit Plus riders who use the bus

  • 27 Mar 2023 12:11 PM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Hours long delays for eastbound Amtrak trains arriving at the La Crosse station are not uncommon, but Amtrak’s planned Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago intercity passenger service aims to offer more reliable scheduling.

    “This second train will be dedicated just between Chicago and St Paul. It will not go on beyond St. Paul, it will turn around and go back. So that is going to eliminate a lot of those delays already,” said Trista MatasCastillo, Ramsey County commissioner and chair of the Great River Rail Commission, a group of governmental officials advocating for the passenger rail project.

    Service is set to begin in 2024 or sooner, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website. Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari confirmed riders should expect service to begin according to the state agency’s timeline.

    The train will run from Chicago to the Twin Cities on existing tracks used by Amtrak’s Empire Builder and will replace and extend one of the seven Hiawatha services between Milwaukee and Chicago.

    “For tourism, for students, for businesses, there’s a huge benefit,” said Peter Fletcher, La Crosse Area Planning Committee executive director. “With the added service, two trains a day, there are opportunities to go down on one train and come back on another, so that opens up a lot of business opportunities.”

    The arrival of a second train from Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago comes as ridership rebounds from the pandemic. In fiscal year 2019, between October 2018 and September 2019, there were over 970,000 boardings and exits on the Amtrak trains in Wisconsin and over 130,000 in Minnesota.

    Ridership in both states sank over the next two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Amtrak reported total ridership grew by 89% in fiscal year 2022 with overall ridership returning to 85% of pre-pandemic levels. While state-specific data is not available for fiscal year 2022, ridership on the Hiawatha route more than doubled and ridership on the Empire Builder route increased by over 37%.

    The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago second train is expected to serve more than 124,000 riders in its first year of service.

    Only one passenger train runs in each direction from Chicago to St. Paul a day on the Empire Builder, which continues west to Seattle or Portland. Eastbound trains are often delayed before reaching St. Paul.

    According to Amtrak data for fiscal year 2021, 57% of Empire Builder riders arrived at their destination on time, compared to nearly 95% riders on the Hiawatha.

    “The longer the route, the more opportunity there is for disruption at all the stops along the way. That’s a lot of rail to keep cleared, weather, floods, snow,” said MatasCastillo. “Right now passenger rail stops for freight, and they’re using the same track.”

    Track improvements

    The second train project includes upgrading infrastructure between Winona and La Crosse that has caused increased conflicts with passenger and freight rail. “It’s not just passenger improvements here, it’s also freight improvements,” said MatasCastillo.

    Local government agencies in Wisconsin and Minnesota have been interested in expanded passenger rail service for over a decade, after then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker scrapped high speed rail plans.

    “The discussion changed from, ‘Well, this is what we have as far as our existing service, how can we improve it?’” said Fletcher.

    The Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2012 requested Amtrak to study the feasibility of adding a second train to run between Chicago, Milwaukee and the Twin Cities. The passenger rail operator issued a report in 2015 finding sufficient demand to expand operations.

    In the following years, the state transportation departments and partner organizations needed to complete a variety of environmental, engineering and service studies while applying for federal grants and securing state funding.

    Railroad improvements in La Crosse, La Crescent and Winona total $53 million, with a Federal Railroads Administration grant covering 60% of the cost and Amtrak committing $5 million. Wisconsin and Minnesota provided over $6 million and $10 million respectively.

    “In Minnesota, it took us a couple of years to get the funding dollars allocated,” said MatasCastillo. “The $10 million dollar match from Minnesota came into play, which gets us now moving to the next phases.”

    The state governments of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois are in negotiations to split annual operations costs. An additional federal grant of $12.6 million will fund 90% of operating costs in 2024 and 2025.

    After a period of public comment last year, the final design plans for rail improvements are scheduled to be completed this year with construction starting in 2024 and ending in 2025. Ongoing supply chain issues may make it difficult to secure the materials needed for construction and train engines, said MatasCastillo.

    “We’d have to have available rail cars to assign and crews that are trained to operate,” said Magliari. “The Empire Builder already exists, we have crews that are qualified on the route, that is an easier hurdle to get over.”

    Infrastructure improvements include track extensions and signal upgrades aimed at reducing conflicts between passenger and freight trains and increased speeds and platform upgrades are planned for the La Crosse and Winona stations. Following a brief closure due to a staffing issue, the Winona station has reopened, said MatasCastillo.

    Drivers also can expect safer train intersections and shorter waiting periods at gates, said Fletcher.

    “For the long-term operation of the service, the corridor improvements are going to make it run more efficiently in avoiding any delays,” said Fletcher. “Because of those improvements, the freight movement through this area will be better, safer.”

    Under an agreement with Amtrak and Canadian Pacific, which owns most the rail corridor, service could begin before construction starts in 2024.

    “The opportunity for an early start is something that would be great if it could happen but we’ll wait and see. We know it’s certainly coming in the future,” said Fletcher.

  • 23 Mar 2023 7:46 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Earlier this week, the Janesville Transit System (JTS) Transfer Center (123 S. River St.) fully reopened to the public following the facility's renovation project. The center's lobby is now available to riders looking to stay warm and dry while waiting for a bus to arrive. The facility's restrooms are also now open for public use.

    The renovation project, which began last year, brought significant improvements to the Transfer Center, including:

    • Adjustments along the concrete platform for ADA accessibility
    • Construction of additional public restrooms
    • Major facility component replacement (HVAC, plumbing, concrete paving)
    • Refurbishment of the public lobby, bathrooms, and dispatch room
    • Improved vandal-resistance
    • Roof replacement

    The work represents a $1.5 million investment in transit services in downtown Janesville. JTS appreciates the community's patience throughout this project and is excited for its riders to enjoy the improved facility.

    For questions, contact JTS at (608) 755-3150.

  • 20 Mar 2023 6:41 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    The program launched in March of 2022 and was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. The pilot program received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

    “What we’re doing here with FlexRide Milwaukee is we brought in an entirely new form of transportation to the Milwaukee area and that is microtransit,” Steele said.

    Steele explained that microtransit is a hybrid of traditional bus and on-demand services, like Uber. It is a ride that an individual can call on their phone, but the ride is shared with other riders. Riders aren’t necessarily picked up at their front door, Steele said, they might need to go a few blocks down the road to a coffee shop or hop on a city bus for a few miles to get to a collection point.

    “What that encourages is shared rides, because the shared ride aspect of it is huge for the cost effectiveness of the program,” Steele said.

    Riders can travel between Zone 1 or Zone 2 and the Employment Zone. Depending on where you’re traveling to or from, rides are free or $1.50 each. FlexRide Milwaukee operates only during the weekdays.

    The research period of the pilot ended at the end of October 2022 and they expect to launch FlexRide Milwaukee 2.0 in April. The program received a $4.2 million grant from the state of Wisconsin to extend FlexRide Milwaukee services through 2024 and allow FlexRide to expand to other communities in the region.

    Steele said this spring they hope to expand pick up zones to include both the north side and south side of the city of Milwaukee and to launch service to Franklin and New Berlin. Later in 2023, he said they are looking to potentially expand to Brookfield and Oak Creek. At this time they would consider other areas like Ozaukee County as well.

    Steele reported that ridership in the program continues to grow. He added that at any given point, there are 200 individuals participating in the program, with one-third of that using it every day, twice a day and another one-third using it about four to five times a week.

    Ozaukee County is holding an open house from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 to discuss potential Flex-Bus routes that would run on Port Washington Road from Bayshore Mall to northern Port Washington and along Cedarburg and Green Bay roads from northern Milwaukee County to Saukville.

    To view a map of the routes being considered, visit The event will take place at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library in the Tolzman Community Room, 11345 N. Cedarburg Road, Mequon. To learn more about FlexRide Milwaukee, go to For more information about MobiliSE, visit

  • 16 Mar 2023 9:35 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    The RoundTrip program of the Greater Madison MPO recently announced the launch of a new online platform connecting Dane County residents and commuters with convenient alternatives to driving alone.

    RoundTrip provides resources and incentives that support affordable, sustainable transportation options including carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling, and public transit.

    Features of the new platform include a multimodal trip planner with easy-to-use ride-matching capabilities; personalized user dashboards; trip logging for personal stats and gamification; a RideBoard for one-time trips; and event-based trip pooling.

    To celebrate, RoundTrip is sponsoring a March Madness Challenge through March 31 to reward car-free and car-lite commuters. Individuals can register at to connect with personalized transportation options; access the Emergency Ride Home program for car-free commuters; and participate in the March Madness Challenge and future regional reward programs.

    RoundTrip encourages all residents and commuters to make transportation choices like walking, bicycling, carpooling, public transit, and telework a daily habit. With over 70% of Dane County commuters driving alone to work pre-pandemic, these choices contribute to a more affordable, sustainable, and equitable transportation system, and a higher quality of life for all as Dane County grows.

    RoundTrip also encourages employers to promote transportation options at their workplace by partnering with RoundTrip. More information for employers is available on the RoundTrip website and in the Employer Commute Options Program Toolkit.

    What to know about RoundTrip

    • RoundTrip is a free transportation options program that connects individuals and employers in Dane County with affordable, convenient alternatives to driving alone, including carpools, bikepools, vanpools, transit and bicycle routes, and more.

    • RoundTrip’s new online platform, accessible in Spanish and Hmong, connects commuters with carpool and bikepool partners, state vanpools, Metro Transit routes, Madison BCycle stations, and more. It also offers new features for one-time and event-based trip pooling.

    • RoundTrip users can download the CommuteTracker mobile app by RideAmigos for Android or iOS, to access trip planning features and passive trip logging for incentive programs.

    • Users can track trips to participate in reward programs like the March Madness Challenge, and to see their cost savings, calories burned, and CO2 reductions over time compared to driving alone.

    • Employers can contact RoundTrip to set up networks that make it easier for employees to form pools and access incentives. Current workplace networks in the RoundTrip platform include the City of Madison, Dane County, UW-Madison, the City of Sun Prairie, Madison College, and more.

    The RoundTrip platform is powered by RideAmigos, and made possible in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation RIDESHARE program and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission CommuteWISE program.

    RoundTrip is a program of the Greater Madison MPO (metropolitan planning organization), that connects individuals and employers in the Madison region with convenient alternatives to driving alone. Local funding partners include Dane County, the City of Madison, Metro Transit, and UW-Madison.

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