The city of Madison’s East-West bus rapid transit (BRT) line will receive $110.6 million in federal funding, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced at a press conference with city and state officials Friday.
The proposed BRT A line, slated to finish construction in late 2024, will connect city residents from East Springs to the West Side of the city at the High Point neighborhood, running through the heart of downtown and campus on the way.
According to Madison Metro Transit, BRT bus lines are designed to maintain efficiency, meaning they don’t have as many stops as a normal bus, travel in special bus lanes and utilize special traffic signals to arrive at destinations faster.
“This is not your grandfather's bus,” Federal Transit Authority (FTA) Regional Administrator Kelley Brookens said at the press conference.
The additional federal funding is the second grant Madison’s BRT project has received from the federal government, with the first being a $107 million investment in 2022.
Friday’s funding influx will lower the amount the city itself has to pay for the system, according to Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.
“It’s critical that we make transit a viable opportunity for everyone in our community,” Rhodes-Conway said.
At the press conference, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan highlighted that BRT would be an all-electric bus service. Pocan said the project will have positive environmental impacts and create local construction and transportation jobs.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to get done with Democrats in charge,” Pocan said, referencing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that passed two years ago. A provision of the law, the Capital Investment Grant Program, created the funding for the BRT line.
Rhodes-Conway said BRT’s expansion particularly helps riders in minority groups.
“It’s particularly going to help raise our level of service for low-income riders and people of color,” Rhodes-Conway said. “With this redesign, 66% of low-income riders will be within walking distance of high-quality bus service.”
Metro Transit expects BRT fares will be the same price as traditional bus fares. Buses will run end-to-end every 15 minutes and in densely populated areas like downtown every five minutes, said Justin Stuehrenberg, Metro Transit general manager.
The BRT system will also include more “comfortable” bus stop areas, according to Stuehrenberg. The 31 new stop areas will include full canopy coverage, fair kiosks, snow melt systems and solar panels.
Gabriella Hartlaub is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal. She also reports state politics and life & style stories. Follow her on Twitter at @gabihartlaub.