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Thursday, November 27, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 22.0° F  Overcast
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Wisconsin public transit options lacking
Wisconsin Public Transportation Routes
Credit:1000 Friends of Wisconsin

If you need to get from Green Bay to Madison via public transportation, your only option is to take an Indian Trails bus to Milwaukee (with stops in Manitowoc and Sheboygan), then transfer to a Greyhound bus that goes from Milwaukee to Madison. All told, the trip takes between six to eight hours, including a two-hour layover in Milwaukee.

Back when I lived in Green Bay, sans car, I made that trip a couple of times. It sucked. Particularly because I had just moved to Wisconsin from Washington, D.C., where I had been spoiled by the delightful fact that you could hop an Amtrak train and be in New York City in less than three hours.

Wisconsin has a lousy public transportation system. And now that the environmental group 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin has released a map of all the inter-city public transit routes in the state, you can see just how pathetic it really is. There are just four main public transit lines running across the state. And oddly, the three major cities -- Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay -- are not easily linked.

Only one passenger train route runs through the state, from Milwaukee on its way to Minneapolis. It bypasses Madison, though you can drive -- DRIVE -- out to Columbus to catch it.

Getting to the state's northern reaches from Madison means taking a bus that meanders through Minnesota first. Or you can take one that goes through Upper Michigan instead. The bus service between Superior and Ironwood was discontinued. And there is no way to reach Rhinelander, except by plane.

1,000 Friends put the map together as part of statewide transit guide for Wisconsin residents who don't drive. The state Department of Transportation plans to use the guide as a model for its own guidebook, and will update it as needed.

Here's hoping the map -- available in the 'Related Downloads' at right -- will need lots and lots of updating.

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