Madison’s $200M campaign to ride the bus

With Dane County expected to grow by 85,000 jobs and 100,000 residents by 2050, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway announced a $200 million MetroForward campaign designed to get more people riding the bus.

Playing a large role in that, Metro Transit, the city’s bus system, will offer more subsidized bus passes, electric buses, and bus rapid transit (BRT). About half of the $200 million would come from federal grant money, which the city hopes to apply for next year.

Metro Transit wants to convert all of its buses to electric by 2023, upgrade its bus garage, and add a new satellite facility, as well.

BRT offers higher-frequency, limited stops, and the longer buses can nearly double the number of riders as standard buses.

By 2024, the city hopes to have an east-west BRT system in place, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report, handling a projected 12,000–13,000 riders a day.

In August, the WSJ reported that the initial cost of building a BRT system here would run between $120 million and $130 million, which increased from a May estimate of $80 million to $100 million.

Once in place, it would cost about $3.5 million per year to operate.

A BRT bus moving through town in dedicated lanes would take between 55 and 59 minutes, depending on the route selected by the city, to get from one side of town to the other, whereas a BRT bus mingling with traffic and without a dedicated lane could take 12 to 15 minutes longer.