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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
80 Bus

Madison Metro Transit changes city bus routes ahead of BRT implementation

Madison Metro Transit activated changes to the city’s bus routes on Sunday that included additional trips and shifts in departure and arrival times.

Madison Metro Transit activated new bus schedules Sunday to improve bus reliability and prepare local bus lines for a bus rapid transit (BRT) route expected to go online late next year.  

Major changes to the schedule include additional trips added to the A and B lines, which run across the isthmus and through the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. The A line will begin earlier, and the B line later than the previous schedule. 

Most routes experienced a shift in arrival and departure times, and some stops located along the future BRT routes have been retired. Campus bus routes like the 80 and 81 remain unchanged.

The altered schedule follows an update from June 11 that launched a completely new bus schedule, including the routes impacted by Sunday’s adjustment. 

Sean Hedgpeth, Metro Transit planning and scheduling manager, told The Daily Cardinal that Metro prioritized creating punctual bus schedules and using community feedback to structure the new plan. 

“Once we had enough service data about the actual travel times versus our scheduled travel times, we adjusted schedules accordingly,” Hedgpeth said. “Lastly, we have been addressing overloads as needed with our resources available, and each new schedule period we tweak those based on ridership.“ 

Metro Transit is currently building the east-west BRT line, which will provide service every 15 minutes. Buses on the line will stop less frequently than current routes, update real-time boarding information and improve the quality of bus accommodations like seating and passenger capacity, according to Metro Transit’s website

Hedgpeth said Sunday’s changes will prepare the city for BRT lines going online next year. 

“The new schedules better reflect 2023 road conditions and ridership demand going into the future,” Hedgpeth said. “These will provide a baseline to determine future BRT resource needs, like the number of buses required to reliably maintain schedule frequencies before we launch full BRT.”

BRT lines have grown in popularity across the country, surfacing in metropolitan areas to connect people across regional distances, according to the Federal Transit Administration. BRT systems are similar to a subway or light rail, which move independently of external delays often faced by localized bus lines. 

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway introduced Madison’s Metro Forward agenda in 2022, a plan targeted at improving local transit and including the creation of a BRT system. The initiative has four goals: increase accessibility, introduce a BRT line, advance sustainability and modernize metro facilities. 

The schedule adjustments will increase transit access but require the city to use additional resources to provide services. 

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“Schedules with inadequate running times mean that the drivers get less break time at the end of the line,” Hedgpeth said. “Tweaking schedules means we do have to use more resources like an extra bus, which also increases our driver requirements. Also, our drivers bear a lot of the brunt of the complaints of missed transfers, so the better these are scheduled the better quality of life we can provide for our drivers.”

Bus line schedules are allowed to change up to four times annually as outlined in Metro’s agreement with the bus drivers’ union, Hedgpeth said. 

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