Madison Metro Transit and a city commission solicited public comments about proposed changes to provide extra buses on crowded routes during rush hour while avoiding redundant services at a hearing on Wednesday.
According to Colin Conn, Metro Transit schedule planner, not enough extra buses are available in the city to provide assistance to routes when it is needed. In an effort to solve this problem, he said the new routes would take away some of the “redundancies” occurring on several current routes.
“We run 85 extra bus trips a day on this system. That is just stupid,” Conn said. “We have to clean that up.”
Residents from the area along Sheboygan Avenue voiced several concerns their usual bus service would decrease significantly with the proposed changes. They were specifically upset over realigning Routes 14 and 15, which would eliminate service past around 6:30 p.m under the proposal.
Yvonne Schwinge, a Sheboygan Avenue resident, said because of working in several locations throughout the city, she felt the changes would add commuting time. She added the plans served campus commuters and only made transportation more inconvenient for others who would not receive late night transportation.
“Extending that time has to happen,” Ald. Bridget Maniaci, District 2 said. “Nobody’s home by 6 p.m.”
Maniaci said there would likely be added costs for the changes to Routes 14 and 15 and suggested continuing service to 8 p.m., if not later.
Conn said he was surprised residents of Sheboygan Avenue were complaining about realigning Route 14 and said he felt taking it off the street seemed like a “no brainer.” He said if the route needed to be kept going later at night and it was affordable, he could make it work.
“It’s going to work out extremely well,” Conn said about the rerouting in the Sheboygan Avenue area. “People have no idea how much time I put into planning these schedules to make sure that I’ve got a bus coming every six minutes.”
Schwinge also said the Transit and Parking Commission should recognize the need to do something about overcrowding on Route 2 buses on Saturdays, saying that after living in Madison for 14 years, she recently experienced being unable to board the bus for the first time.
Laurie Wermter, a Williamson Street resident, said she was mostly pleased with the proposed changes.
“I was delighted to see that [Routes] 9 and 10 trip times were going to start during morning rush,” Wermter said.
Wermter said she supports the service extending through afternoon rush hours and added it may create more dependency on the bus system, helping to decrease carbusage in the city.
Ald. Lauren Cnare, District 3, said she supported the proposed expansion into the far east side of Madison and added she felt those residents deserved full city services.
“The more we can make the bus available to people, the better,” Cnare said.
Chuck Kamp, Madison Metro Transit general manager, said officials would make no decision at the hearing to allow the Transit and Parking Commission to consider all the comments. A decision will be made May 8, he said, with the decision put in place in August.