people boarding the busThrough a complete redesign of service and implementation of a bus rapid transit system (BRT), Metro plans to improve on long-standing service complaints and improve transit equity throughout the region.

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Metro Transit Today

Since 1998, Metro’s service has been designed around two goals: traveling downtown quickly at traditional 8-5 commute hours, and reaching the most places possible, even if it takes a long time.

Metro has consistently received complaints about long travel times, unnecessary transfers, and missed connections. These issues disproportionately affect those that are low-income and people of color. 

We hope to address these with the Metro Rapid bus rapid transit system and Transit Network Redesign projects.

Most common complaints received are:
  • Travel times are too long. Many riders deal with hourly service, long waits, and unnecessary transfers. This makes it impractical to use Metro service for everyday trips to jobs, school, and shopping.

  • Service is confusing. Overlapping routes, one-way loops, and routes that frequently change cause riders to wait at wrong stops or board the wrong bus, especially in outlying areas.

  • Safety at transfer points is an issue due to long waits in the cold, and concerns about vulnerability to crime.

Transit Network Redesign and Bus Rapid Transit Work Together

Metro Rapid BRT and Transit Network Redesign are separate projects that have independent utility.

The projects acknowledge the effects of each other, but each project has value with or without the implementation of the other.

Neither project restricts the consideration of alternatives of the  other project nor do they trigger the other action.

bus rapid transit imageBus Rapid Transit

Metro Rapid BRT will replace local service in the downtown area and bring frequent, high-quality bus service to Madison’s core east-west and north-south corridors.

Because BRT routes will serve the most passengers, including from low-income neighborhoods, they will be improved with dedicated bus lanes, high-capacity electric buses, fewer stops, and stations with better amenities.

Learn More about BRT

Service will not be cut in low-income neighborhoods to fund the bus rapid transit system.

Historically, there have been relatively high levels of service in Madison’s east-west and north-south corridors.

Metro Rapid will improve midday and weekend frequency and provide more direct and efficient routes, but overall service in the north-south and east-west corridors will remain similar to pre-pandemic levels.

people riding the busTransit Network Redesign

The Transit Network Redesign is a reboot of Metro’s remaining service. 

To reduce travel times, bus routes throughout Madison will be designed to be longer, straighter, and more frequent, which is consistent with bus rider preferences expressed in multiple surveys and outreach efforts.

This is especially important for low income riders living in Madison’s periphery, who are currently travel restricted by hourly service and forced transfers.

Learn More about Network Redesign

Transit network changes will benefit low-income riders.

Low income riders are more likely to live in outlying neighborhoods and rely on public transit for longer trips – many of which could be much shorter if bus routes connected people directly to where they want to go.

Reducing delays, transfers and out-of-direction travel is central to helping reduce barriers for low income families and improving access in a reasonable amount of time to jobs, education, and community resources anywhere in Madison.

See Job Access Maps for Low Income Riders

The redesigned transit network will provide better access to jobs and community resources outside the Downtown area.

Overall, some duplicative bus service will be removed from the downtown area and reallocated to outlying neighborhoods. In addition, some service hours will also be shifted from peak periods to the middle of the day. These changes will make it more possible to reach more service jobs and non-job destinations outside the traditional 8-5 workday.

The new network won’t force transfers to Metro Rapid routes.

By adding minimal walking distance to stops in higher-income neighborhoods, a major expansion of service to low income riders critically dependent on Metro Transit is possible. Most bus routes will either travel through downtown or be organized into a circular route network that will connect Madison’s west, south, and east sides. This will eliminate most transfers for trips to and from downtown locations.