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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Madison bus rapid transit to get more federal funding from Biden administration

Madison’s widely-anticipated bus rapid transit project received a boost after federal officials announced plans to allocate nearly $120 million to a second, north-south line.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced $118.1 million in funding toward the Madison area’s second bus rapid transit (BRT) line earlier this month as part of President Joe Biden’s 2025 proposed budget.

The Federal Transit Administration on March 11 recommended Biden’s budget include the funds for the north-south bus rapid transit line, which would expand the city’s BRT system, connecting Madison’s Northside neighborhoods with South Madison and Fitchburg via the isthmus.

“This federal investment in Madison’s north and south sides will be transformative in helping our city to grow in an equitable and sustainable way,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. “We applaud the Biden Administration for supporting our effort to expand rapid transit to more people, jobs, and important destinations in our community.”

The north-south line, Rapid Route B, is currently in the development and planning stage but has been “more than a decade in the making,” according to City of Madison Transportation Planner Liz Callin.

The BRT system will utilize dedicated bus lanes, special traffic signals to get buses through intersections more quickly, and off-board fare payment kiosks to provide quicker and more reliable transportation to the Madison area.

“Rapid Route B will make it faster, easier, and more convenient to travel to work, school and other important destinations along the route,” Callin said.

The north-south route includes 5.2 miles of exclusive bus lanes and stations and provides more reliable transit service to an additional 53,000 people, according to city and federal documents.

“It will have a transformative impact on many parts of our community, providing faster, more convenient, and more reliable transportation options to more people,” Callin said.

The announcement comes as construction of the east-west BRT line nears completion along Mineral Point Road, Whitney Way, University Avenue and East Washington Avenue. The east-west line, Rapid Route A, is expected to open in fall of 2024.

The project has struggled to find the necessary funding from local sources, according to Callin. Under the new plan, about 78% of the project’s cost would be federally funded. 

“Without federal funding, this project likely would not happen,” Callin said.

The next round of public meetings to discuss the new lines will be held in April.

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