Metro Transit garage

The storage area for buses at Metro Transit's garage is located at 1101 E. Washington Ave. 

Madison Metro Transit is hoping to secure a $7 million federal grant to help fund a new bus storage facility to meet the city’s growing transportation needs.

Metro’s current garage at 1101 E. Washington Ave. is outdated and was built for 160 buses. It currently houses 215 buses, and Metro plans to increase its fleet by three buses this summer to provide service to Sun Prairie.

“There’s a critical need to find a place to put buses,” Transportation Director Tom Lynch said.  

The city is currently in negotiations with the owners of the former Oscar Mayer property to purchase 15 acres and two buildings that would be used as a satellite facility. This option could cost between $13 million and $19 million.

“It’s rare to find an available facility, suited to Metro’s needs, with expansion capability," Lynch said.

The Federal Transit Administration has made about $423 million available for buses or bus facilities through its 5339b grant program. The City Council approved Metro's grant application through a resolution at its meeting Tuesday. 

Metro plans to apply for $7 million and if successful, the city will provide up to $5 million for acquisition of the property.

“The program requires a commitment for a local funding match with the application, and that such commitment would make Metro’s application for such grant more competitive,” the resolution states.

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Metro has unsuccessfully applied for this grant over the past three years to receive funding for more buses, but not for a storage site. Lynch said the city’s commitment of a local match could offer the federal government greater reassurance.

A possible schedule for pursuing the former Oscar Mayer property could include purchasing the site next year and relocating up to 30 buses and six service bays while the East Washington Avenue garage is being remodeled. Renovation of the two buildings on the site would occur between 2021-2023.  

Applications are due June 21.

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.