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  • 7 Apr 2021 8:59 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    2021

    Midwest Zero-Emissions Bus

    Working Group Meeting

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021
    2 pm – 3:30 pm ET

    Join CALSTART and key transit industry stakeholders across transit for the second ZEB working group meeting of 2021 as we come together to discuss the following key topic areas:

    • Infrastructure Planning For Your ZEB Deployment: Utilities speak about the next steps
    • Microgrids – Resiliency and Ensuring Operations: Keeping transit moving everyday
    • Open Discussion: The continued pathway to zero-emission buses

     

    Why should I participate?

    Be a part of the solution as we work together on your fleet sustainability planning for transit agencies of all sizes and regardless of where you are in the process. We are charging forward together to make zero-emission transportation the answer and not the question. Come and join the conversation. You will not want to miss this!


    Register in advance for this meeting:

     https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwqdO-uqTMqG9wjfMZbR2iEAe7jaKW_cUv_

     

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

    This is an ongoing series. The next MW ZEB Working Group meeting is planned for June 24, 2021.

    Please note this meeting is primarily for transit agencies, utilities and OEMs.

    An activity of the Midwest Zero-Emissions Bus (ZEB) Working Group and part of a series of discussions designed to tackle the challenges and harness the benefits of transitioning to zero-emission buses in the Midwest. This event is open to all transit agencies and utilities as we work together to transform transportation for good.

    A picture containing text Description automatically generated

     


  • 18 Mar 2021 7:48 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    Dear Bus Coalition Members and Supporters,

    On Monday, March 22 from 4:30-5:30 eastern, The Bus Coalition is planning an ONLINE All-Members and Supporters Meeting to discuss the several high-priority issues facing Bus Transit on Capitol Hill and in the Biden Administration this year.

    • Fast Act Reauthorization
    • Federal Infrastructure Package
    • FY22 Appropriations Plus-Ups
    • The Earmark Process

    The decisions being made in DC over the next six months will have long lasting impacts on your transit system. It's more important than ever to get involved, so please join us on this important TBC ALL MEMBERS CALL!

    Online Eventbrite Registration is now available here

    Looking forward to a great call next week.  Have a great weekend. 

    Best,

    The Bus Coalition Team


  • 15 Mar 2021 6:42 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    NEWS PROVIDED BY
    Nova Bus 
    Mar 11, 2021, 10:08 ET

    PLATTSBURGH, N.Y., March 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ - Nova Bus, leading North American transit bus manufacturer, is pleased to announce it was selected to supply 15 LFSe+ buses, Nova Bus' long range electric buses, by the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), the largest transit agency in Wisconsin and primary transit provider for Milwaukee County. This is Nova Bus' first order of electric LFSe+ buses in the United States.

    "Nova Bus's state-of-the-art electric buses will transform public transportation in Milwaukee, improving reliability, service, safety, and capacity, while helping the environment at the same time," said Senator Schumer. "I'm especially proud that the electric buses will be built right here in New York, solidifying the state as a leader in manufacturing clean energy and transportation technologies. As we work to combat climate change, zero-emissions public transit and transportation infrastructure like Nova Bus's electric vehicles will be critical to achieving a cleaner future."

    "Nova Bus is an important part of the North country manufacturing industry and economy, and their newly awarded contract with the Milwaukee County Transit System is a testament to skilled employees and operation. I will continue to strongly advocate for Nova Bus and our North Country manufacturing industry in Congress!" said Congresswoman Stefanik.

    "We look forward to introducing the Nova Bus LFSe+ buses to the Milwaukee community," said Martin Larose, Vice President and General Manager at Nova Bus. "These electric buses, which represent the perfect pairing of our proven expertise with the latest innovations in clean and sustainable technologies, is the perfect choice for the MCTS' East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, an innovative project, first-of its-kind in Wisconsin, that will efficiently connect commuters through downtown Milwaukee and expand the sustainable transit footprint in the state."

    With a fleet of 370 clean-diesel buses and a dedicated team of 1,100 drivers, mechanics and administrative staff, the MCTS provides nearly 29 million rides each year and generates a massive economic impact for the region.

    "Alternative fuel buses represent the future of public transportation," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "These battery-electric buses from Nova Bus will help us transition towards greener, more sustainable, and more efficient transit for our community. Innovative technologies like this help strengthen the overall system and advance racial equity by increasing access to employment, education, healthcare, grocery stores, and other essential destinations." 

    Built on the proven Nova Bus LFS platform, whose safety track record of more than twenty years, this ground-breaking bus is designed to be just as reliable. In fact, the Nova Bus LFSe, on which the new LFSe+ is modeled, was the first electric bus in the industry to receive a passing score for a full test at Altoona in June 2018.

    The new LFSe+ integrates traction motor and power electronics, which use advanced materials such as silicon carbide to improve heat management. The lower weight and increased power density of the technology also contributes to bus performance and durability. Powered by an integrated modular system, the electric motor significantly decreases maintenance costs and emits no greenhouse gas emissions.

    Nova Bus is committed to always improving our product and processes to reduce pollution and waste in every aspect of our business, and the LFSe+ is our latest demonstration of that commitment.

    About Nova Bus

    Nova Bus is a leading provider of sustainable transportation solutions in North America. Its portfolio includes electric buses and hybrid buses, high-capacity vehicles and integrated intelligent transport systems. As part of its Electro Mobility strategy, Nova Bus is moving forward with the electrification of key vehicle components to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Nova Bus is part of the Volvo Group.

    For more information regarding Nova Bus products and services, please visit www.novabus.com

    SOURCE Nova Bus

    Related Links

    www.novabus.com


  • 12 Mar 2021 7:00 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)
    • Friday, April 9, 2021 UW-Whitewater, Whitewater, WI
    • Wednesday, April 21, 2021 The Hodag Dome, Rhinelander, WI
    • Thursday, April 22, 2021 UW-Stout, Menomonie, WI
    • Wednesday, April 28, 2021 Virtual

     Information about the hearings may be found at: https://legis.wisconsin.gov/topics/budgetcomments/public-hearings/


  • 11 Mar 2021 1:53 PM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    Racine is in the process of replacing a third of its buses with electric-powered; nine electric buses are expected to begin transporting locals around town in November, with a goal of having an all-electric fleet by 2030.

    Adam Rogan
    The Journal Times, Racine, Wisc. (TNS)
    Mar 10th, 2021


    Mar. 9—RACINE — Most people don't think public transportation is cool. Michael Maierle does. He's been Racine's transit and parking manager since June 2016, and he thinks Racine is finally getting a seat at "the cool kids" table of public transport.

    "It's a privilege to be part of the cool kids," Maierle said during a recent Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group webinar.

    Racine is in the process of replacing a third of its buses with electric-powered, as opposed to diesel-powered, vehicles. Nine electric buses are expected to begin transporting locals around town in November, with a goal of having an all-electric fleet by 2030.

    "In 10 years, this industry is going to be electric buses. We're lucky to be among the early adopters ... we're on that wave," Maierle said.

    At the end of this year, Racine will be Wisconsin's leader in the new age of public transportation. No community in the state will have more electric buses than Racine until at least 2022, when Milwaukee plans to expand its electric bus fleet to 11.

    Likely the way of the future

    Electric-powered vehicles, more and more, appear to be the public-transport vehicle of the future. General Motors is aiming to have 30 new electric vehicles by 2025 "on its way to an all-electric future," and Volvo announced last week it will be "fully electric" by 2030.

    California has vowed to get its public bus fleet to be all-electric and zero emissions by 2040. Austin, Texas, is on the same track, vowing to never again buy another diesel bus.

    "We're talking about air quality from reducing diesel fumes, reduced carbon dioxide emissions which helps the city attain our climate change goals, and also thinking about how public health can be incorporated into a transit plan," said Cara Pratt, Racine's first-ever sustainability and conservation coordinator, hired in May 2019.

    Reducing those fumes doesn't just help the drivers and riders of buses, but also the neighborhoods those buses operate in by allowing for cleaner air and less visible pollutants that dirty roadways.

    "The vast majority of buses in the United States run on diesel, which is a climate polluting fossil fuel that releases toxic fumes linked to life-threatening health problems such as asthma, bronchitis and cancer. Additionally, emitting over 5.3 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, not only are diesel buses really bad for our health, but they're also bad for our climate," said Susanna Cain, associate for WISPIRG's Transform Transportation Campaign.

    That's why, Cain said, "electrifying our city and school buses is so important."

    District 9 Alderman and Transit Commission Chair Trevor Jung put it like this: "If you're waiting at a bus stop, and the bus charges away and you get a cloud of diesel in your face, I would say that's not the best experience."

    He asked listeners during WISPIRG's webinar to imagine a clean, nearly silent bus: "It sounds simple, but at the end of the day that type of experience builds up to a happier, healthier community."

    Transit systems are alternately considered the heroes and villains of public health and the environment, Maierle said. They get more vehicles off the road, but they burn a lot of diesel fuel.

    "5.3 million tons of greenhouse gases are released from diesel buses every year," Cain said. "This makes transportation a huge sector to make a big impact in climate change going forward."

    Racine public transportation is "burning 200,000 gallons of diesel per year," Maierle said. Those gallons come from 7,000-gallon tanker trucks; Racine accepts 28 tanker truck deliveries a year, more than two a month. With nine electric buses added, "there will be eight less diesel trucks coming into our system a year," Maierle said. He sees that as $60,000 a year in savings.

    There's talk of adding solar panels to the bus garage, thus negating some of the pollution that would've been created elsewhere in the hunt to become zero-emissions, but nothing is set in stone.

    According to one study of Chicago's public transportation, the total cost savings over the lifetime of one electric bus compared to a diesel bus is $25,000.

    "Public transit is a critical element of the state's economic development," Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan said in a January 2020 statement. "Investments in public transit translates into economic gains. According to the American Public Transportation Association, every dollar invested in public transit results in a four-dollar return."

    On a single charge, the buses Racine is expecting to lease are from Proterra, a California-based electric vehicle technology manufacturer, would get about 141 miles worth of "fuel." Eleven of Racine's existing bus routes are shorter than that, so there shouldn't be any issues with running out of power mid-route or needing to recharge midday when the electric buses hit Racine's roads eight months from now. Because they would be recharging at night, power costs would also be lower due to decreased demand for electricity after dark, Maierle said.

    Innovative excitement

    Jung said that this effort is also good for Racine's brand and attractiveness.

    In Racine, "We have a history of social justice and innovation," Jung said. "We are revolutionizing the way transportation is done in the State of Wisconsin ... If we're doing the same thing we did 10 years ago, and doing the same thing 10 years before that, we're not doing it right."

    He continued: "We need to do our part to make sure folks have access to the economic engines in this region, and that means transportation. How do we do that effectively? How do we do that sustainably? That's the answer when it comes to electric buses," Jung said. "You're attracting a skilled workforce that says 'This is a forward-thinking community. This is a progressive community, and I want to make this my home.' So you're recruiting talent... Once you create that type of connection, you allow folks to be able to come into your community and spend their money."

    Pratt added, "We hope that tourism in the City of Racine could grow as a result of this," adding that there is "excitement associated with innovation." As such, "we're hoping that more riders would be interested in riding" the RYDE transit system, which in turn could lead to economic growth, she said.

         ___

         (c)2021 The Journal Times, Racine, Wisc.

         Visit The Journal Times, Racine, Wisc. at www.journaltimes.com

         Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

    View Article

  • 9 Mar 2021 11:27 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    2021 Mobility Conference Virtual Event

    https://www.apta.com/conferences-events/mobility-conference/

  • 19 Feb 2021 9:58 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    LOUISVILLE, Ky., Feb. 18, 2021 /CNW/ - (TSX: NFI) GO Transit (in the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin), and Valley Transit (serving the Fox Cities in Wisconsin) are keeping riders safe with the Proactive Air and Surface Purification ("PASP") system from NFI Parts®. NFI Parts is the parts subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. ("NFI"), one of the world's leading independent bus manufacturers.

    The PASP units uses proprietary technology to create advanced purification by producing High Energy Clusters which are distributed throughout the interior of the vehicle safely sanitizing both air and surfaces, leaving behind substantially less harmful residue. It is mounted directly in passenger compartment allowing for deactivation of viruses as they are introduced into the vehicle. Virus deactivation at the source of introduction is one of the critical factors to increasing passenger and vehicle safety.

    "Our PASP system disinfects without downtime or additional cleaning during service; once it has been installed and the vehicle is running, it continuously disinfects while the vehicle is on the road," said Brian Dewsnup, President at NFI Parts. "Unlike many other technologies implemented in response to the pandemic, operating this technology while the bus is in operation is not harmful to passengers and drivers. We are proud to offer this as part of our Clean and Protect product line."

    Testing at the University of Florida confirmed the technology deactivates SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as deactivating coronavirus 229E. The technology has also been tested in operation in a stationary mass transportation vehicle environment where surface bacteria levels were reduced to almost non-detectable levels and VOC (volatile organic compounds) air quality measurements were reduced by almost 96%.

    "It not only deactivates the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it is also effective on other viruses, bacteria, mold, fungus, VOCs, mildew and odors, making the experience of public transportation more comfortable and appealing," continued Mr. Dewsnup. "The bar for cleanliness has been raised over the course of the last 11 months; equipping fleets with the latest technology will assist in maintaining this new standard and restoring rider confidence that the onboard air and surfaces are cleaner with this system installed."

    Clean and Protect products each work to support the five principles of transportation safety: Distancing, Disinfecting, Air Quality, PPE and Communication. These areas can help improve the safety onboard motor coaches and are critical steps toward restoring the consumer confidence needed to restart the industry. More information on the five principles of transportation safety can be found here.

    "The safety and security of our riders and staff is our top priority," said Jim Collins, Transportation Director at the City of Oshkosh. "After completing the installation of driver barriers and hand sanitizing stations, the PASP unit was a great solution to round out our safety strategy."

    Both GO Transit and Valley Transit have maintained service schedules throughout the pandemic, providing an essential transportation option to keep their community moving. Riders can find the latest information about traveling safely on their respective social media pages: https://www.facebook.com/GOtransit/ and https://twitter.com/ValleyTransit.

    "We're extremely happy to have something installed in our fleet that is able to disinfect air and surfaces throughout the day," said Ron McDonald, General Manager at Valley Transit. "Since joining the APTA Health and Safety Commitment Program, we have remained committed to following every precaution possible to ensure our buses are safe. The unit running while buses are on the road, paired with daily cleaning crews and new driver barriers, covers all bases."

    GO Transit operates on a fixed route system in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, providing bus service to over one million passengers per year.

    Valley Transit's vision is to get people where they want to go throughout the Fox Cities in Wisconsin. They provide safe customer-focused transportation options that connect communities to enhance their quality of life. In doing so, Valley Transit provides numerous transportation options throughout a Tri-County area that covers 117 square miles with a population greater than 200,000 residents.  Click here to go to the article.

  • 15 Feb 2021 10:06 AM | JoEllen Graber (Administrator)

    MADISON - Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Friday recommended increasing the sales tax to up to 6.5% in some areas if approved by voters — an idea Republicans who control the Legislature are unlikely to get behind.

    Under the governor's plan, counties could increase the sales tax by 0.5% and municipalities with a population of more than 30,000 could do the same. Voters would have to approve any increase in a referendum. 

    Currently, Wisconsin imposes a 5% sales tax and almost all counties impose a 0.5% sales tax. That means the sales tax is 5.5% in most parts of the state — low compared to many parts of the country.

    Evers would allow the rate to go up to 6.5% in places where voters approved the maximum increases at both the municipal and county levels. In a few spots, it could go even higher because existing law allows communities that are tourist attractions, such as Wisconsin Dells and Eagle River, to levy additional sales taxes.

    Milwaukee officials and others in local government have long pushed for a chance to increase the sales tax, arguing state aid hasn't kept pace with their expenses. Republican lawmakers have resisted the idea, saying they want to limit the state's tax burden.

    Evers announced Friday he would try to give local officials a path to raise the sales tax in their jurisdictions in the budget he will unveil on Tuesday.

    Evers said voters should be the ones to decide whether they pay more in sales taxes.

    "Our proposal puts the question back in the hands of the folks best positioned to make decisions for their community — local leaders and the people who live there," he said in a written statement.

    Republican legislative leaders did not react to Evers' plan Friday. They will spend the coming months reviewing and rewriting Evers' budget and they could easily take out his sales tax proposal during that process.

    Evers' plan received a critical response from former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican considering running against Evers in 2022. In a statement, she noted Evers at the tail end of his 2018 campaign said he wasn't planning to raise taxes

    “Tony Evers ran on no new taxes in 2018 and has completely failed on that promise every step of the way," she said in a statement. "Unfortunately Wisconsin businesses and hard-working families are the ones left to pick up the pieces in an already COVID-hit economy.”

    In addition to allowing every county to increase its sales tax, Evers' plan would give perhaps two dozen municipalities the same option for the first time. 

    Local governments have faced difficulties for years because their costs have increased faster than the aid they receive from the state, said Rob Henken, president of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum. Local officials have few options for raising money because of tight limits on property taxes.

    "There comes a time where if you want to see service levels maintained, then something has to give," he said. "So then the key question becomes what should give?"

    Officials could consider several options, he said, such as increasing state aid to local governments, having the state take over some functions of local government, consolidating local governments or — as Evers has proposed — letting local governments raise more taxes.

    Evers’ proposal would help local governments with their budget problems and would diversify their funding base, Henken noted. It would also allow them to collect money from those who use their services but don’t live there, such as commuters and tourists, he said.

    But the sales tax is more regressive than other taxes and there’s a danger that providing more tax revenue to local governments would hurt efforts to make them more efficient, Henken said.

    Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business lobbying group, announced it would fight Evers' plan.

    “Wisconsinites are still reeling from the worst economic downturn in a generation, and the governor’s response is to make it more expensive to purchase everyday items,” said a statement from Scott Manley, a WMC vice president. "Our state already has some of the highest tax rates in the country. Now is not the time to make our national reputation as a high-tax state even worse."

    A Milwaukee County group made up of leaders in local government, business and the broader community for more than a year has been pushing the state to allow a binding referendum to raise the county’s sales tax by one percentage point, to 1.5%.

    The revenue, which has been estimated at as much as $160 million in the first year, would be used to provide property tax relief and fund countywide priorities in the face of stagnant revenue from the state, the group says.

    Leaders in the county point to an imbalance between the ever-growing amount of tax revenue sent to the state by Milwaukee County residents and businesses each year and the stagnant share of that money that is returned.

    The effort, dubbed Move Forward MKE, was announced in September 2019 but has not gained traction in the Legislature.

    The City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County both face increasingly challenging fiscal situations, with the city in the last two years cutting positions in the Police Department through attrition.

    On Friday, members of the Move Forward coalition praised Evers’ proposal.

    “Milwaukee County and its municipalities house 60 percent of the jobs in our metro area,” Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said in a statement. "In order to provide property tax relief, maintain critical services and support our infrastructure, MMAC applauds Gov. Evers for including a local option sales tax in his budget proposal. With voters approval, this could lead to a new way to move Milwaukee forward with a more balanced fiscal structure and make the investments necessary to keep metro Milwaukee a region of choice."

     County Executive David Crowley called Milwaukee County “the economic engine of the state,” saying the proposal takes a step toward ensuring that the region and state continue to grow. The investment will also help the county achieve its vision of racial equity, he said.

    Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he appreciated Evers’ recognition that change is needed in the relationship between the state and local governments.

    “The inclusion of the proposal to increase a sales tax via referenda allows diversification in our revenue stream, at the desire of our citizens,” he said in a statement, adding that such a measure gives Milwaukee control of its own future.

    City leaders are grappling with how to address a significant anticipated increase in its annual pension contribution in 2023, which could severely damage city services. Barrett has cited changing the fiscal relationship with the state as key to resolving the looming pension problem.

    Barrett also said the sales tax would help reduce reliance on property taxes and allow local revenue to be generated from tourists and those who commute into Milwaukee for work but do not pay property taxes.

    Evers' proposal also won the backing of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

    “Wisconsin relies too heavily on property taxes to pay for schools, police, roads and other essential services,” said a statement from Jerry Deschane, the league's executive director. “Study after study has shown that the state needs to spread that load to a more balanced system of financing. We are grateful to Governor Evers for proposing an option for citizens to choose.”

    Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.


  • 10 Feb 2021 8:24 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    Cities that have deployed Modeshift's contactless fare collection system have seen adoption rates increase by upwards of 110 percent as the pandemic drives demand for touchless options

    Today, Modeshift, a leading contactless fare collection system provider, announced significant growth in 2020 that is only picking up speed in the new year following integrations in Lancaster and Reading Pennsylvania. Since 2017, the startup has grown to offer contactless fare collection systems for use on buses, railways, e-scooters and ride-sharing services in six states and 10 countries around the world.

    The latest figures from the National Transit Database report that between February 2020 and November 2020, the number of public transit users in the United States fell by 62 percent, or 482 million rides. As a result of this, public transit agencies are facing an anticipated $23.8 billion shortfall through the end of 2021, even after the funding received through the CARES Act.

    "The need to keep passengers and staff safe while providing reliable services has never been greater for public transit authorities," said Miroslav Katsarov, CEO of Modeshift. "We’re proud that 20 cities around the world have trusted us to implement contactless fare collection systems on their public transit networks, and we hope that riders feel safer using it."

    In the first quarter of 2020, contactless transactions grew 40 percent globally, and according to American Express, 73 percent of US merchants prefer customers to use contactless payments instead of handling cash. With the demand and acceptance of contactless payments growing among consumers and merchants alike, public transit authorities have a unique opportunity to implement this technology widely, knowing it will be used and appreciated by users.

    "Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a large decline in the number of public transit users across Berks and Lancaster county." Dave Kilmer, Executive Director of the South Central Transit Authority in Pennsylvania stated. "Since implementing Modeshift’s contactless fare collection system we’ve seen the adoption rate increase week over week, and now, 99 percent of our public transit users have migrated to the new system and prefer contactless payments for fares."

    With Modeshift’s technology, transit users can purchase tickets through a white label mobile application, which generates a unique QR code for each fare. Users can redeem this fare by scanning the QR code at a contactless terminal located on the public transit vehicle.

    Features of Modeshift’s Fare-Collection System include:

    Visit https://modeshift.com/ for more information.

    About Modeshift
    Modeshift, Inc. is a technology company with the mission to enable small and middle size transit agencies to provide intelligent transportation services. Our core product is Account-based Fare Collection System, based on the Microsoft Azure cloud and delivered as a service (Software as a Service – SaaS).

    Modeshift also provides other subsystems which complete the stack of hardware and software needed to operate a modern transit system such as Mobile ticketing, AVL/CAD and real-time passenger information.

    View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210209005217/en/




  • 9 Feb 2021 8:38 AM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

    Feb. 6—Metro Transit is proposing route changes that would shift almost 30% of buses from State Street, but it's largely to accommodate the coming Bus Rapid Transit system, not a first step in transforming the city's most renowned street into a pedestrian mall, officials said. 

    There long has been a desire to reduce the number of buses on State Street, especially during peak hours, and the city needs to make room for BRT, city transportation director Tom Lynch said. The coming resurfacing of West Washington Avenue provides an opportunity to create a transit lane there that allows Metro to relocate bus routes off of State Street, he said.

    Despite recently revived public conversation about taking all buses off State Street, the city is not now moving in that direction, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said.

    "We're in the process of reshaping Metro service to prepare for Bus Rapid Transit, and to best serve our entire community," the mayor said. "These changes are part of that, and I think are a good step. However, I don't support removing Metro from State Street or (Capitol) Square entirely. Transit is an important part of our community and should be at our front doors, where it can best serve employees, customers, visitors and residents."

    Downtown Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, said the proposed changes will better serve residents and that he's been hearing "a widespread cry" for seriously considering making State Street a pedestrian mall.

    "I have long supported reducing the amount of traffic on State Street and trying to move to a more pedestrian-friendly concept," he said. "Every bus, especially diesel buses, we remove from State Street is progress in that direction."

    The proposed changes would affect routes 8, 12, 15, 70 and 72. The moves are part of a series of proposed route changes in several parts of the city to be considered at a Metro and city Transportation Commission online public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

    Already, current bus service on State Street is almost 30% less than before the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynch said. The proposed changes will reduce the number of buses by another 25-30% on a daily basis, and almost 40% during evening peaks, he said.

    Both the route changes and the West Washington Avenue lane configuration changes must be approved by the Transportation Commission, Lynch said. The route changes and resurfacing are planned for this year, he said.

    The State Street route changes were being contemplated before the recent discussions about removing all buses, he said. "This change will help implement Bus Rapid Transit and address some of the noise complaints during the evening rush hour."

    "The recent discussion of buses on State Street has been incomplete," he said. "Fire lane requirements, challenges with State Street's four existing pedestrian-only spaces, and equitable access to the Downtown are all key factors," he said.

    "Downtown, there are always complications," Verveer said. "There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed."

    Still, even a limited reduction is finding support.

    "Moving several key Metro Transit bus routes to West Washington Avenue will help create a more open and pedestrian-friendly State Street promenade, allowing visitors to better enjoy the shops, restaurants and cultural amenities on Wisconsin's main street," said Jason Ilstrup, president of Downtown Madison, Inc.

    "The move will also help ensure buses move more quickly on the Isthmus, thereby getting workers and visitors into and through Downtown with more speed, efficiency and reliability," he said. "The new routes will also better connect a densely populated section of Downtown all while improving the pedestrian and bike infrastructure and safety."

    DMI hasn't taken a formal position on removing buses from State Street, but will be starting a discussion soon, Ilstrup said, adding, "Certainly moving nearly 30% of the buses off is an important step in potentially turning State Street into a pedestrian mall."

    Metro, Verveer noted, is conducting a comprehensive review of its current route structure in the hopes to reformat the system to better serve the community, improve ridership and complement the new BRT system. The possibility of removing more buses from State Street should be part of the review, he said.

         ___

         (c)2021 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

    https://www.masstransitmag.com/bus/news/21209155/wi-metro-transit-proposes-moving-almost-30-of-buses-off-state-street


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