City transportation officials presented a preliminary study at an informational session Monday looking into the possibility of establishing Bus Rapid Transit as a supplement to Madison’s public transportation system.
A bus rapid transit system is an express transportation service designed to decrease commuting time between highly populated areas of employment and residence, according to the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission’s report.
“BRT has the potential to vastly improve transit service in the Madison area,” Madison Area Transportation Planning Board member Bill Schaefer said.
Madison Metro’s general manager Chuck Kamp said Madison’s transit system served a record 14.9 million riders in 2011, creating a “need to make some capacity improvements.”
Joe Kern, a private consultant for the study, said BRT aims to cut down on waiting time, bring in new clients and upgrade efficiency and comfort of transit.
Some of the defining features of BRT include larger buses, express service every 10 to 15 minutes, waiting stations with up-to-the-minute bus arrival times and fewer stops located further apart, that reach the city’s surrounding areas such as Fitchburg and Sun Prairie, Kern said.
The new transportation system would require specifically designated lanes for BRT vehicles in convenient locations, according to the study.
Fitchburg Ald. Steve Arnold, District 4, said taking a four-lane road like Johnson Street and designating one lane for BRT vehicles would be a good use of the express transit system.
But Arnold also said there are complications to BRT, such as street parking.
“You have to handle street parking sensitively, because moving street parking out from Monroe Street or [Williamson] Street would be a local business killer,” Arnold said.
Transportation officials and stakeholders will continue to plan and estimate the benefits, costs and impacts before presenting their findings in February.