The City of Madison Metro Transit committee held a community meeting April 14 to discuss how the planned redesign of the Metro Transit system will affect University of Wisconsin students and employees.
The committee released a draft of their redesign plan to the public in January. The committee is hosting meetings such as these — in addition to offering a survey — to collect feedback on the draft from the community, Transit Planner for the City Transit Committee Mike Cechvala said.
Faculty, students and community members attending the meeting expressed their disappointment and frustration with the redesign itself and the community review process.
Patrick Jackson, senior assistant dean for Undergraduate Student Services in the UW School of Human Ecology, said the committee’s main medium for receiving input — the survey — was flawed.
“The survey really focused on these very ambiguous terms of ‘Do you want to focus low-income?’ or ‘Do you want to focus on ridership?’, but there really wasn’t emphasis on how this was going to impact the actual routes,” Jackson said. “I feel like that was used as language in order to justify the routes that were being put out.”
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Jackson said he spoke with many other people who said they would have responded to the survey differently if they knew exactly how the redesign would affect their routes.
For example, earlier in the pandemic, the city removed bus route 14 from the West side, forcing many residents to drive to route 15 to get on the bus, Jackson said.
Now, the committee is also planning to remove route 15, effectively creating a transportation desert, Jackson said.
Kaitlin Sundling, who also lives in the West side and commuted to UW on route 14 before the pandemic, said she shared Jackson’s concerns with the lack of planned bus routes to the West side.
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District 8 Alderperson Juliana Bennett joined the meeting with fellow UW students and echoed Jackson’s statements regarding the lack of community involvement.
“This whole process has been, unfortunately, flawed,” Bennett said. “It’s really disappointing to be in this meeting and see that, I think we are the only students, or the few that are in this meeting and this meeting is supposed to be catered to UW Students, to UW Employees.”
Bennett said route 80 should run at later hours to give students a safe ride home at night. Cechvala said the committee has heard these concerns before and that they are currently working with ASM on the matter.
Initiating the changes to route 80 ultimately comes down to funding from the university, Cechvala said.