submitted by Larry Larrabee; photo by Neil Fauerbach
Tom Lynch, Director of Transportation for the City of Madison, began his presentation by acknowledging the significant contribution of 13-year Director of Metro Transit, Chuck Kamp, for his energy and foresight in bringing the system into the future. Mr. Lynch then shared important aspects of Madison’s transportation system and its future.
First there is the need to prepare the city and county for 2050 with a projected population of one million people that will require doubling downtown parking to 20,000 spaces and two additional traffic lanes in each direction on East Washington Avenue.
The director then explained the direction the department is taking in developing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). BRT is defined by buses being no more than 15 minutes apart, off-board payment and the use of dedicated bus lanes with their own traffic signals to avoid congestion. Light Rail (LR) is no longer being considered because of the significantly greater cost. Fifteen miles of LR in Madison would cost one billion dollars while BRT will cost $128 million. Twenty larger cities have chosen BRT over LR.
Tom stressed the benefit of BRT based on numerous studies of other cities using that system. Every dollar spent on RBT produces four dollars of investment by corporations and boosts employment for a half a mile around each bus stop.
His department anticipates construction for Madison’s BRT to begin in 2022 and to be complete in 2024. The challenge will be dealing with current inadequacies in the bus barn and stagnant funding from the state.
He concluded his presentation by challenging those present to make use of the two free bus tickets Metro Transit was providing after our meeting and take a ride in the next two months with the idea that those who do so will become supporters for the bus rapid transit concept.
If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.