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  • 29 Jun 2023 7:05 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    After the recent June debut of Milwaukee's new Bus Rapid Transit system down Wisconsin Avenue, officials are reporting positive ridership.

    About 16,800 rides were delivered on the Connect 1 in its first week between June 4-10, according to a news release from the Milwaukee County Transit System.

    “We are thrilled with the early results on CONNECT and appreciate all of the positive comments we’ve received about our new BRT line,” said MCTS President and Managing Director Denise Wandke in a news release. “Thanks go out to all our supporters who have championed this project: elected officials, business leaders, transit advocates, and our dedicated riders.”

    For its first week, the Connect 1 gave an average of 2,800 rides per weekday, according to MCTS. For many of the rides on the 9-mile route, three main destinations were apparent: downtown Milwaukee, Marquette University and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.

    Downtown saw around 700 rides per day, while Marquette saw around 500 per day and the medical center saw 200, according to MCTS. The most popular stop is located downtown at Water Street receiving around 300 rides per day.

    Transit officials said the connection to Waukesha's Metro Route 1 is getting growth with the Connect 1 debut. Metro 1 ridership boosted from 300 to 700 rides per day, MCTS said.

    The new fleet for the BRT route includes seven buses with electric batteries, plus five clean diesels and other buses added during peak times, MCTS said. Rides on the new transit route remain free until Sept. 30, officials said.

    “By modernizing transit, the BRT provides Milwaukee County with the transportation options people need to get to work, school and appointments more quickly and efficiently. With sustainable funding, the County could continue to see the positive economic impact transit has on the businesses and destinations that transit brings people to,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley in a news release.

    Riders can get more information about the new bus route through
  • 26 Jun 2023 1:07 PM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Vulnerable Road User Safety Assessment - Active Transportation 

    WisDOT is completing a safety assessment for Vulnerable Road Users throughout Wisconsin.  Please click on the link below to complete the brief survey.  The results will aid the development of the safety assessment.  Thank you!

  • 26 Jun 2023 6:40 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Graphic og GO Transit Research being conducted by UWO interns

    They can hardly be called interns.

    With a variety of majors, a trio of University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students and one new graduate, have done the lion’s share of the work involved in surveying parents and compiling data about transportation needs in the city of Oshkosh.

    The UW Oshkosh Whitburn Center for Governance and Policy Research is assisting Winnebago County Public Health with a survey to understand the impact of a pilot GO Transit city bus program that provides free rides to K-12 students.

    Samantha Larson, deputy director of the Whitburn Center, said the UWO students are gaining skills that will help them as they apply to graduate programs or explore career opportunities.

    Adrian Hanrahan of West Bend, who graduated in December with an English degree and has been working at the UWO Writing Center as she prepares for the start of grad school in fall, is part of the four-person team researching the GO Transit program.

    “Public transit is very important to me as someone who does not drive and often relies on the bus, and it connects to my own social and environmental values and my minor in social justice,” she said. “I am glad to be part of a project that aims to improve public transit options, especially for youth.”

    Hanrahan said the experience has helped her learn how to bring research ‘into the real world’ through the use of surveys and focus groups.  It also gave her a better sense of the needs of youth and their parents.

    She hopes to eventually earn a doctorate and teach at a public university.

    “I find opportunities to practice my social and advocacy skills very helpful. No amount of reading can prepare me for the social and emotional elements of my future career as an instructor quite like having conversations with real people.”

    Hanrahan has been working with three seniors: Julianna “Jules” Banayag of Oshkosh whose major is sociology; Ene “Priscilla” Idoko of Abuja, Nigeria, whose major is economics; and Maya Van Thiel of Appleton, whose major is social work.

    Van Thiel said she has learned about the importance of free public transportation.

    “This not only provides a free ride to school, but also impacts students’ daily well-being to hang out with friends after school and attending volunteer and employment opportunities,” she said, adding the project relates to her social work major as she could advocate for those who may not have “a voice” in the matter.

    Van Thiel plans to continue her education to earn a master’s degree in social work. She said she is hoping to work with students in her future career.

    Data collected by the Whitburn interns will be presented May 10 to inform Oshkosh city and school leaders as decisions are made regarding the free bus fare program.

    Key study findings

    • A total of 117 K-12 students and 114 parents/caretakers responded to the survey that studied educational, health and financial impact.
    • About 31% of students and 40% of parents said school attendance was impacted by the availability of the GO Transit city bus program. Of the student group, 46% live in a household without a reliable vehicle.
    • Some 61% of students and 49% of parents reported access to free transportation had high impact on participation in social activities. The greatest impact on both students (77% surveyed) and parents/caretakers (75% surveyed) was financial—the money they saved by using the GO Transit city bus program.
    • Ridership has increased dramatically each year since the pilot program began in 2020, with 142,814 rides recorded in 2022

    Written by Laurie Schlosser

    Link to original story:

  • 22 Jun 2023 10:07 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Transit Center Construction

    The new Eau Claire Transit Center is still undergoing construction — and despite the progress made — won't fully open until midsummer of 2024.

    The building is nearly complete though, and city officials plan to open the parking ramp portion later this year. However, bus services won't begin until the exterior of the apartments are done. Cory Tietz, an official from Eau Claire Community Services Department, said rising costs due to COVID-19 and inflation caused the first developer to drop out of the apartment project and a new developer was approved in February 2023. For safety reasons, the transit center can't completely open until the apartments are done.

    "There's still a lot of overhead work that needs to be done to build those three stories that would go on top of this structure," Tietz said. "So there will be an overhead crane and stuff set up again and just for safety reasons of people entering and exiting that facility, it's best to stay out of it."

    Officials are hopeful that construction on the apartments will start this fall as the new developer, Merge LLC., is finalizing plans for the three-story addition. Once the exterior and the foundation of the apartments are complete, the center and its bus services could be open by the summer of 2024. Tietz anticipates the apartments could finish construction in summer 2025.
  • 19 Jun 2023 10:04 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    There's a new way to get around Milwaukee County. The Connect 1 transit line is now taking people from the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa to Downtown Milwaukee. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line is the first of its kind in Milwaukee.

    At a ribbon cutting for the new route, and the new electric buses to accompany it, officials said the new transit line will make one of the most important corridors in the region more accessible to everyone.

    "All of our residents should be able to access employment, access educational or recreational opportunities in any ZIP code across Milwaukee County. And this east-west BRT is a step in the right direction," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "I can't think of a safer way, a better way to move across Milwaukee County and enjoy all the things Milwaukee County has to offer."

    The transit line will connect people to several colleges and high schools, 120,000 jobs, seven medical facilities and things like Bucks games, the county zoo and Summerfest.

    The new line is a big upgrade for frequent MCTS user Denise Koss, who said she relies on public transit. Koss also uses a wheelchair.

    "For everything. Visiting friends, visiting family, going to the doctor, shopping," Koss said. "I will use this line to connect to other lines. I take the 15, I take the 35. So I'll just be using this all the time."

    On top of its efficiency, Koss says the new buses on the route are safer for people who use wheelchairs.

    "I tried it yesterday, I love the self-securement for my wheelchair. I don't have to have the bus driver get in my space. I can do it myself. I feel very, very secure and safe. And it's just a good way to get around the community," Koss said.

    Bus fare on the Connect 1 route is free until Sept. 30.

  • 15 Jun 2023 7:52 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

    Blue Connect 1 bus at nighttime in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Milwaukee celebrated the opening of its first bus rapid transit (BRT) line last weekend, reports Graham Kilmer in Urban Milwaukee. “The system promises faster travel times through a mix of dedicated lanes, traffic signal priority, off-bus ticketing and dedicated stations.”

    The nine-mile line uses electric buses, promises headways of 10 to 15 minutes, and will offer free rides until the end of September. The BRT stations feature “glass shelters, elevated platforms, digital signs showing real-time bus arrivals and off-bus fare validators.” Connect 1 runs parallel to Interstate 94.

    According to the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), “Ridership will be fueled by activity generators within the half-mile station area around the route including: 9 colleges and universities and 8 high schools, 48,900 residents, 110,700 jobs, 200 businesses with 100 or more employees, 8 medical facilities, 25+ hotels, and countless attractions including the county zoo, American Family Field, Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee Art Museum and Summerfest.”

    FULL STORY: Milwaukee’s First Bus Rapid Transit Line Is Open for Business

  • 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.

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