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Students boarding bus

UW-Madison students prepare to board an intercity bus outside Memorial Union in 2018. The city is exploring a short-term relocation of the boarding area to Monroe or Lake streets.

For safety concerns, Madison officials are looking to temporarily relocate the city’s intercity bus stop outside UW-Madison’s Memorial Union to a new spot on Monroe or Lake streets.

The new short-term spot, which would have outdoor passenger shelters, should be located on the north side of the 1400 block of Monroe Street or the 200 or 300 blocks of Lake Street until a permanent location is established within three to six years, according to a new report from the city’s Transportation Department.

“There’s a concern about public safety at the current site in front of Memorial Union,” city transportation director Tom Lynch said. “We’re hoping to work with the bus companies to come up with something that works well.”

The city hopes to make the change this fall, Lynch said.

Each short-term alternative has advantages and disadvantages, the report says.

  • The Monroe Street site is close to university residence halls, in a highly visible area, and near UW Police and Madison Fire Station No. 4 as well as some commercial services with Union South only two blocks away. A big complication, however, would occur during Badger home football games and other high-attendance occasions, likely meaning a relocation to the 1300 block of University Avenue during those dates. The university administration does not favor this location.
  • The 300 block of Lake Street is also close to residence halls, highly visible with pedestrian activity and near commercial services, but the site has drawbacks including room to stage only three buses and requiring relocation of a Metro Transit bus stop. The university supports this site.
  • The 200 block of Lake Street has the same advantages as the adjacent block, but would have to be closed and the site relocated during Kohl Center events up to 50 times a year.

All of the options would bring new passenger shelters, concrete pads to support the shelters, signage, pedestrian markings and other changes.

The recommendations come after the city and UW-Madison Transportation Services studied 13 alternatives, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the city continues to evaluate long-term bus loading options that will likely incorporate a spot into the redesign of the Lake Street parking garage, which is scheduled for replacement in three to six years, Lynch said.

The city’s Transportation Commission will discuss the 19-page report and recommendations Wednesday.

Intercity bus companies have used the current location at 800 S. Langdon St. since the late 1970s. Students frequently use the buses, Memorial Union once had a small parking lot for passenger drop-off and pickup, and Union staff assisted companies by selling tickets, the report says.

But conditions have changed in the last decade, the report says. The Badger Bus Depot on West Washington Avenue and South Bedford Street closed in 2009 for redevelopment, creating more demand at the Langdon Street site. Also, the construction of Alumni Park in 2017 removed the small parking lot next to Memorial Union, and the Union no longer sells tickets due to online sales.

The current location is problematic because the narrow street and sidewalks are heavily used by pedestrians and bicyclists, creating safety concerns, the report says.

When Memorial Union was under renovation, the loading area was moved to 750 University Ave. in front of the Chazen Museum of Art, but that site also had safety issues. Chazen officials voiced concern about passengers using their facility for restrooms and waiting, as well as passenger drop-off and pickup in their driveway.

In response to those concerns, intercity bus loading returned to outside Memorial Union.

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