Madison’s Metro system will undergo its biggest change in over 20 years on June 11, changing all 2,000 bus stops in some way.
The City of Madison approved a redesign of the entire bus system in December with the goal of providing more consistent service and direct routes. Most routes will switch from numbers to letters, and all transfer points will be eliminated.
The 80, 82 and 84 campus bus routes frequented by UW-Madison students will be similar to their current routes, according to Rusch. Route 81 will change so that the bus doesn’t travel down State Street.
Mark Rusch, interim chief development officer for Metro Transit, told The Daily Cardinal the changes will address community complaints regarding long bus rides, frequent transfers and confusing routes.
Equity was at the forefront of the redesign, according to Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.
“The whole premise of the network redesign is to create a more adequate equitable system,” Rhodes-Conway said at a press conference last month, the Cap Times reported. “The folks that will benefit more, according to our analysis, are low-income households and people of color.”
With Madison’s current bus system, people of color have to transfer 2.5 times more often than white bus riders and are twice as likely to have a trip longer than 45 minutes, according to the mayor’s office.
Rusch said Metro has heard stories from passengers about people riding 90 minutes on the bus to get to work and their children’s daycare.
The redesign begins to address this issue. Black residents, on average, will see a 96% increase in access to jobs within a 45-minute ride, while Hispanic residents will see a 120% increase. Additionally, 67% of low-income residents will have more places to travel to by bus, compared to 40% of other residents.
However, not all Madison residents will see increased access. The redesign eliminates some stops, increasing walk times for certain neighborhoods.
Madison residents have voiced concerns about how this will affect Madison’s elderly and people with disabilities.
Debra White, who lives in the Orchard Ridge neighborhood on Madison’s west side, said she was concerned the elimination of some stops could leave her stranded.
“My neighborhood is mostly seniors and elderly people and, on a normal nice day, I can’t walk that far to catch a bus,” White told the Cap Times. “Whoever made these changes hasn’t thought about when it’s going to be cold with snow and ice.”
A city equity analysis concluded people with disabilities could benefit less from the updated routes than other groups, but limited data makes this hard to determine. Available data suggest that 41% of residents with disabilities will have more places they can travel to by bus, but 4% of residents with disabilities will have fewer places they can travel to.
The analysis concluded that 3% of residents overall will have fewer places to travel to.
Metro users can plan their trip and view maps, schedules and more details on the City of Madison website. Ride Guides will be out in yellow vests helping passengers adjust to the new bus routes on Sunday, June 11.