We must move towards fare-free transit and expand our service.
The bus is not just an “option” for many people. It is a necessity. Many people can’t afford a car. Others aren’t able to drive because of age, disability or medical concerns. We need to look at our transit system as an extension of our roads, not as an alternatives to cars.
Madisonians have been driving less in recent years. People who use transit save an annual average of $10,000 over those who drive. This impacts everyone-- the single parent, families, people of color, people like my daughter who may not be able to drive, the 20% of Wisconsin’s seniors who do not drive, and our young college graduates who say they would be more likely to stay here if they could get around without driving. Better transit brings more businesses and people to our city, and we can increase our transit in a green way that is healthy for our citizens and our environment. It is an investment in our city.
It can take hours to travel by bus across town for school or a job. And it can be difficult to use Metro at all if you work at a restaurant that closes late. People of color and people of modest means are disproportionately impacted. Sadly, state and federal government aren’t likely to help anytime soon.
Metro has to be for everyone.
In recent years, we have not added the space to significantly increase our bus fleet. Our “bus barn” remains inadequate to meet growing transit needs.
I support developing a Bus Rapid Transit system and Transit Oriented Development as a long term strategy. In the short term, we should explore design changes to better accommodate the needs of those who rely on transit most.
As mayor I will quickly establish a transit equity council to imagine a transit system that works for everyone.