• 20 Jun 2022 8:47 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    An earlier version of this story stated that La Crosse's electric buses were the first in the state. Racine had already launched electric buses.

    Two new electric buses will hit the streets of La Crosse Monday, in what officials and project leaders are calling a major step forward in creating a more sustainable city and state.

    Mayor Mitch Reynolds, elected officials and leadership from the La Crosse Municipal Transport Utility (MTU) gathered Wednesday at the La Crosse Center to celebrate the launch. With the two green electric buses parked in the background, officials spoke of the journey toward achieving this milestone.

    Since development began in 2018, the road to launching the electric buses has not been straightforward. From responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, securing funding and getting approvals from the City Council, officially launching the buses felt like "proof" that La Crosse was backing up its commitment to sustainability, said Adam Lorentz, MTU director of transit.

    "It's easy to talk about sustainability and it's easy to talk about plans for the future," Lorentz said. "But when you bring in two vehicles, it's hard to say that we're not doing what we promised to do. I look at this as just not only for today, but also for the future."

    Powered completely by electricity, the buses will operate full time in the city's fleet of public transport vehicles. With gas prices continuing to rise across the country, the number of riders is expected to increase after the launch of the electric buses, Lorentz said.

    Lorentz said the city wanted to give people another option for getting to work and dealing with rough road and parking conditions. The almost silent buses will also create a better experience for riders and people commuting around La Crosse, he said.

    City and project leaders discussed how this launch will impact people outside of La Crosse, and Reynolds said it will "set the bar for sustainability in communities across the country."

    "That's a model that other communities really should be looking at and seeing if they can follow because that says everything about how we can improve our future," Reynolds said.

    Support from state and federal representatives was instrumental to getting the buses on the roads, Reynolds said. Elected officials that helped advocate for and promote the electric buses include state Rep. Jill Billings, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Ron Kind.

    To help build and launch the buses, La Crosse MTU also partnered with Xcel Energy for funding and budgeting expertise and with Proterra to develop the bus design.

    Given the environmental and economic benefits, leaders are already looking to launch additional electric buses in the future to improve the rider experience. Eventually, La Crosse hopes to have a completely electric fleet of public transport vehicles, Reynolds said.

    "For those who come here, for those who live here, for our current riders, for future riders, they're just going to have a better experience," Reynolds said.


  • 16 Jun 2022 8:34 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    With gas prices hitting record highs some are already turning to mass transit to save money.

    "They're kind of rediscovering it in the moment," said Kristina Hoffman, the communications manager for the Milwaukee County transit system. "And reconsidering their lifestyle."

    It isn't hard to see why. With gas prices topping $5 per gallon, the Milwaukee County Transit System is seeing its highest ridership of the year.

    "This time of year, ridership normally starts to take a drop because we're coming into summer, schools not in session, colleges aren't in session, so it's a natural drop for us," Hoffman said. "But we're seeing a big increase."

    So far it's a 14% increase since the fall and it's not done rising.

    "You cannot sustain," said Justin Biddle, a Milwaukee County commuter. "Keep driving to work, paying $80 a week with gas prices like they currently are. It's unheard of."

    Amtrak is now offering itself as a way to beat high gas prices, especially for commuters between Chicago and Milwaukee.

    But for most, mass transit means the bus. The surge is even rekindling the possibility of reviving perhaps the most advantageous routes for commuters, the Freeway Flyers. The service was suspended in January for a lack of staffing.

    "I think that's another thing we can look at," said Hoffman. "If more people are returning to transit, if they're looking at changing their lifestyle, and saying 'hey, the bus is a better choice,' then absolutely we'll look at that."

    So exactly how much are you saving with mass transit? Right now a $5 pass gets 24 hours of rides on county buses.


  • 13 Jun 2022 8:04 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Madison's Transportation Policy and Planning Board approved the redesign of the city’s bus network during a meeting Monday night. 

    The plan was approved with a 7 to 1 vote and will now head to the Common Council.

    The Metro Transit redesign is meant to increase access and frequency, decrease travel times and improve the experience of riders. 

    It has been a controversial topic because some people think it will lead to longer walks to the new bus stops.

    After 25 years with the current design, many believe it's time to make a change. 

    "Most of the problems we've heard really come down to just we need more transit, and more transit funding, and that's always going to be the case, but we can't let that hold us back from laying a new groundwork that we can move from going forward,” said Chris McCahill, an expert in transportation engineering and urban planning.

    "Certainly it (the plan) has weaknesses. It has strengths, but I'm not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. We need to move forward,” said Margaret Bergamini, Greater Madison MPO Policy Board member.

    Officials say they will also continue to look into any other possible changes as they move into the next phase of planning and funding.

    "I think the sooner we hit the ground running with a dry run, the sooner we can learn some of those tweaks we need to make," said McCahill. 

    The Common Council is scheduled to vote on the redesign at its meeting Tuesday, June 7. If it's approved at that level, changes could be in place by 2023. 


  • 9 Jun 2022 7:38 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    The national average price for a gallon of gas reached a new all-time high of $4.76 Friday, with Wisconsin drivers paying an average of $4.68, according to AAA. Prices in Milwaukee have soared near or above $5 per gallon, and the frustration could lead more drivers to leave their car at home for the weekday commute this summer.

    Since the start of the year, bus ridership in Milwaukee County has been up 14%. While it may be difficult to attribute the increase to fuel costs, the Milwaukee County Transit System said it expects more people to catch a ride on the bus, with no imminent signs of relief at the pump.

    “People are noticing the bus,” MCTS marketing director Kristina Hoffman said. “They’re looking at it as an alternative to their current lifestyle, an alternative to their car, paying high gas prices, high parking prices. They’re stressed out. Let us do the driving.”

    For many drivers, the switch would be a big change to their daily routine, but some, like frequent rider Brian Ambers, find the savings worth the shakeup.

    “If you put five bucks in your tank, it’s not going to get you anywhere,” said Brian Ambers, who takes a bus from South Milwaukee to work an early shift in Bay View. “I’m saving a lot of money. I mean, I wish the prices would go down, but I don’t know when that’s going to happen.”

    Each ride on an MCTS bus costs $2, and an all-day bus costs $5 in the service’s new Umo mobile app. Ambers said beyond the money he saves, his mind gets a break while he would otherwise be dealing with weekday traffic.

    “If there’s a bus stop available, get on there,” Ambers said. ”Saves you a lot of money; you can enjoy your ride, listen to music, watch videos on your phone. That’s the way I do it.”

    For Ambers, $2 each way is an easy tradeoff to the 40-minute round trip to work. He may be joined by more Wisconsinites as gas prices continue to soar.


  • 6 Jun 2022 7:03 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    When President Biden visited Superior in March, he touted how billions of dollars will be dedicated to improving infrastructure in Wisconsin.

    Tuesday morning, Madison Mayor Sayta Rhodes-Conway discussed how some of the funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be spent.

    “This is a once-in-a-generation federal investment in critical infrastructure that will make a huge difference in Madison,” Rhodes-Conway told reporters during the kickoff of Opportunity Wisconsin's 'Paving the Way' statewide tour. The event highlighted how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will impact the Badger State.

    President Biden's spending package puts $89.9 billion toward public transit over the next five years. The City of Madison will use those funds to pursue an all-electric fleet of buses.

    The city expects to buy 46 brand new electric buses without contributing any additional local funding. However, that wasn't always the plan.

    “We had been planning to do a mixed fleet,” Rhodes-Conway explained. “Some electric buses and some conventional diesel buses, but with the advent of the funding for electric vehicles in the infrastructure act, we're able to switch our fleet to fully electric so that we won't be buying diesel buses and locking in that pollution for years.”

    The mayor also hopes the switch can lock in years of savings. She expects the shift to an all-electric fleet will:

    • Cut back on nearly a quarter-million gallons of diesel fuel every year
    • Save the city up to $125,000 in maintenance costs per vehicle over its lifetime
    • Reduce up to 135 metric tons of greenhouse gases for each bus every year

    “Each of these projects represents good, family-supporting jobs for Madisonians, and each of these projects represents an opportunity to advance our city's goals around climate, equity and economic development,” Rhodes-Conway said.

    The mayor said bus rapid transit routes will start operating as soon as next year, with everything fully operational by 2024.


  • 2 Jun 2022 9:16 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Adam Bellcorelli said the new technology added to GO Transit buses is a win for him and a win for the bus drivers in the city.

    And Bellcorelli loves a win-win as much as anybody.

    “Being able to ride the bus and not to have to have the driver jump out and get on the floor and do the ratchet straps, or when it’s wintertime, the floor gets a little slushy or dirty, so I feel better for them,’’ said Bellcorelli, a 17-year Oshkosh resident. “And I just tell them where I’m going to stop, then jump on and hit the button, and it secures me right in. It’s independence, and it’s a lot of fun to use.’’

    The independence Bellcorelli speaks of comes in what is called Quantum securement technology, a device that allows riders in wheelchairs and mobility devices to have complete independence while riding city buses.

    GO Transit, the public transportation service to the Greater Oshkosh area, unveiled the new technology Wednesday as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

    “It gives independence and safety, really the two main issues, for people using the bus with mobility devices,’’ said Steve Tomasik, operations manager for GO Transit. “They can get on the bus by themselves and the device actually secures the wheelchair for them.’’

    Tomasik said the devices were installed to fill a need, as both riders and drivers became concerned during the COVID pandemic.
    “Everyone was scared of how all of this was going to transpire,’’ he said. “You can’t keep six feet of safe distancing if you have someone reaching over you to help you secure your device.”

    GO Transit retrofitted 12 of their buses at a cost of $180,000, Tomasik said. Four new buses, which will be delivered later this year, will already have the technology installed.

    Tomasik said new air purification systems were also added to all GO Transit buses. They also added a cashless payment system, whereby riders download an app to their cellphone, purchase tickets online, then show their phone to the driver when they get on.

    “And the nice things about this system is, let’s say you go over a bump or (the bus) takes a turn or whatever, this will, throughout the course of the ride, readjust itself to make sure you’re still clamped in,” Tomasik said. 

    Tomasik said the option will remain for riders with mobility devices to be strapped in the old way, as the new system requires the rider to face the back of the bus. 

    “I really like this,’’ said Bellcorelli of facing the opposite way. “I didn’t think I would at first because normally I do ride, when I was in the old system, I’d ride the other way. But because you put your back against the pad, it feels so much more secure. So, yeah, I do like it. I’ve found it more comfortable riding this way," he said. 

    Bellcorelli said based on talking with other riders with mobility devices, the new technology is a hit.

    “People love it,’’ he said. “The more you can do this on your own, the less you feel like you have to rely on someone else to do things for you.

    “It makes all the buses much more accessible and much more fun to use.’’


  • 31 May 2022 7:12 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    2,538 Madison Wisconsin Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

    The Madison Arts Commission (MAC) has selected four (4) finalists to provide proposals for a public art project for the Metro Transit Maintenance Facility near the corner of East Washington Avenue and South Ingersoll Street. The finalists are: Actual Size Artworks (Gail Simpson and Aristotle Georgiades), Deborah AschheimVito DiBari, and Jenie Gao.

    This is the first public art project funded by Madison’s Percent for Art Ordinance established in 2019 to ensure that the City’s major public work projects have a designated funding source for the inclusion of public art and design.

    MAC recognizes that the Metro Transit Maintenance Facility occupies a highly visible location passed by thousands of daily commuters and residents as well as visitors to Wisconsin’s State Capitol and therefore they would like to involve the public to participate in the process.

    Each finalist has provided a 15-minute artist talk with information about past projects and their approach to public art. These brief artist talks give residents the chance to learn more about the artists and how they might approach the Metro Transit location on East Washington. Please review their artist talks at the links below:
    Actual Size Artworks 
    Deborah Aschheim 
    Vito DiBari 
    Jenie Gao 

    After you watch all the artist presentations, please share your thoughts in feedback form here: https://airtable.com/shrngRkqAkZMUdrvq . Feedback must be submitted by 12 PM (noon) on July 12, 2022 in order to influence the selection and design process.

    This is your opportunity to offer your initial response on the candidates, and share what is important to you about the Metro Transit location on East Washington, the neighborhood Metro Transit is part of, and public art in the City as a whole. Your comments will be provided to the artist finalists, City staff, and members of the Madison Arts Commission and will become part of the permanent public record.

    During the next phase of the review process, each applicant will design a proposal for a site-specific artwork for this site. Your input will help inform their proposal. Site proposals will be submitted to the City of Madison in late August. We will seek additional community input on the design proposals at that time.

    The public is invited to attend the meeting of the Madison Arts Commission at 5:30pm on September 7, 2022, where we anticipate commissioners will discuss proposals and may determine which artist to recommend for this opportunity.

    The Madison Arts Commission (MAC), an 11-member citizen commission appointed by the Mayor to advise the City about matters of arts and culture. MAC’s mission is to foster arts appreciation by initiating partnerships, developing new audiences, and sponsoring diverse artistic activities by emerging and established artists and arts organizations while preserving Madison’s rich artistic tradition. To support a full creative life for all, The Madison Arts Commission commits to championing policies and practices of cultural equity that empower a just, inclusive, equitable city.


  • 23 May 2022 7:39 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Mayor of Madison (@MayorOfMadison) / Twitter

    Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway joined a Wisconsin coalition Tuesday as part of a statewide tour highlighting how the bipartisan infrastructure law is benefitting Wisconsin.

    Rhodes Conway met with members of Opportunity Wisconsin and For Our Future Wisconsin to discuss how the legislation will provide a better economy, more jobs and lower costs for Wisconsinites as part of the Paving the Way tour.

    “We had been planning to do a mixed-fleet, some electric buses and some conventional diesel buses, but with the advent of the funding for electric vehicles in the infrastructure act, we’re able to switch our fleet to fully electric,” Rhodes Conway said. “So that we won’t be buying diesel buses, and locking in that pollution for years.”

    Opportunity Wisconsin program director Meghan Roh explained that the groups are excited to begin traveling around the state as the weather gets warmer.

    “This once-in-a-generation investment from the Biden-Harris administration will mean repaired roads and bridges, increased access to broadband, cleaner drinking water, and so much more,” Roh said.

    Opportunity Wisconsin will travel to cities including Milwaukee, Eau Claire and La Crosse, and meeting with elected officials while there.

    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $5.2 billion to Wisconsin for highways and $225 million for bridges over five years. The agency noted there are 979 bridges and nearly 2,000 miles of highway in Wisconsin that are considered to be in poor condition. The plan also provides internet access to Wisconsinites who need it, $592 million to improve public transportation and $841 million to improve water infrastructure.


  • 19 May 2022 7:31 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

     GO Transit, the public transportation service in the Greater Oshkosh area, is excited to unveil the new Quantum securement technology on its buses on Thursday, May 19 at 11 a.m. at the Oshkosh Seniors Center, located at 200 N. Campbell Rd. (map). This convenient, automatic device allows riders in wheelchairs and mobility devices to have complete independence while riding the bus.

    May 19 is also Global Accessibility Awareness Day, part of why GO Transit is unveiling this technology on this day. Quantum technology is fitted onto 12 of GO Transit’s buses, providing riders with the ability to secure themselves into place in only 25 seconds with the push of a button and no assistance from the driver. This saves a significant amount of time for both the rider and the driver, allowing buses to run on schedule while limiting the need for close contact.

    “We’re excited to provide this service to our riders,” explained GO Transit operations manager, Steve Tomasik. “Nobody likes to feel like they need another person to help them with simple tasks such as riding the bus. This Quantum technology will allow our wheelchair and scooter-bound riders to secure themselves and regain their independence.”

    In addition to unveiling the Quantum securement technology at the Oshkosh Seniors Center, there will be free resources and travel training on-site for any community member interested in learning the basics of how to ride the GO Transit system. Light refreshments will also be available.

    To learn more about GO Transit’s services, visit oshkoshtransit.com.


  • 16 May 2022 7:17 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    The phone app will save users time waiting for buses and allow them to swiftly check up transfers and plan excursions. Source The Journal Times, Racine, Wisconsin (TNS) — In addition to electrifying 25% of RYDE Racine’s bus fleet, the Racine area’s transit system announced Monday the formal debut of a new automated vehicle finder smartphone application, which gives users with real-time data on bus position, as well as arrival and departure timings.

    “The City of Racine is utilizing smart technology to improve municipal services and enhance quality of life for our residents,” stated Mayor Cory Mason. “This is an excellent example of the major strides that several City departments have made to integrate technological solutions to better meet our community’s needs.” Residents and visitors alike can download the free application by searching “RYDE Racine Transit” in the app stores on Android and Apple devices.

    The phone application will save riders on wait times for buses and provide the capability to quickly look up transfers and plan trips. An additional feature of the app designed to help visually impaired people will make an audible announcement when passengers are nearing their stop while riding. The application’s system map can be updated in real time if routes or schedules change based on construction or rerouting. “The launch of this app is an important part of an overall effort to modernize our transit system,” stated Trevor Jung, Racine transit manager. “Improvements like this will enhance the customer experience for our passengers and make utilizing public transit a more viable transportation option.”


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