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Saturday, July 12, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 73.0° F  Overcast
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Proposed changes for Madison Metro bus routes get a public hearing

Metro officials say the effort is aimed at reducing overcrowded buses and consolidating bus stops.
Credit:Elliot Hughes
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Madison Metro Transit planning and scheduling manager Colin Conn said Wednesday night's public hearing on proposed changes to city bus routes went "swimmingly well" after 23 citizens appeared to offer feedback to the city's Transit and Parking Commission.

The proposed changes (PDF) would affect 23 routes. Metro officials say the effort is aimed at reducing overcrowded buses and consolidating bus stops.

Many residents criticized the proposal to redirect route 14 around Sheboygan Avenue, though riders could access bus service nearby on route 15.

Several Sheboygan Avenue residents, who said they chose to live in the neighborhood because they depend on its easy bus access, said the changes would result in longer walks, more crowded buses and gaps in service.

Conn said after the public hearing he was surprised by the complaints, but wasn't inclined to change his mind.

"To me, taking the 14 out of Sheboygan Avenue is a no-brainer," he said. "I'm going to replace route 14 with another route. If we need to keep it out there later at night and we can afford it, I'll do that. If we can't afford it, I'll shift route 14 back up there after 6:00."

"It'll be a great service," he added. "Just, it'll be different."

A pair of residents also took issue with changes to route 25, which is slated to cut the 7:55 a.m. trip from Main and Carroll streets and the 5:07 p.m. ride from the American Family Office Park. The two said they ride the 5:07 p.m. trip every day and would be stranded without it.

According to details offered in the proposal, however, these two trips average just four passengers, "which is not sufficient to justify the bus while other routes are passing up passengers."

Some residents testified that the proposed changes as a whole were too favorable to those traveling to downtown and the University of Wisconsin Hospital.

But they had their champions too. "If we expect people living and working in Madison's congested isthmus to significantly lessen their car use, we need to provide a workable downtown bus service," one resident said. "The new routes, 9 and 10, make a lot of sense."

Following the meeting, Conn said he expected several specific aspects of the plan would be revised, but declined to go into much detail. "We take this in-house," he said. "We've got plenty of time to respond."

The changes won't go into effect until August. The Transit and Parking Commission expects to vote on the matter in May. The changes do not require Common Council approval.

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