Madison is proposing a $130 million bus rapid transit system. The growing transit demand, however, extends well beyond the authority of the Madison transportation planners.
Given the 30-year projected increase in Dane County population and associated property values, economic incentive to increase average transit distance to jobs in Madison suggests that without a viable alternative, auto congestion will stifle economic growth for the county.
The public transit plan objective should be to eliminate the auto preference by expanding convenient access to safe, reliable, comfortable public transit. An effective public transit plan should have a 15-year goal of serving the metropolitan area and a 30-year goal of serving Dane County.
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Such a plan goes beyond the authority of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, requiring input from Dane County and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. What is needed is a coordinating regional transit authority.
A long-range transit plan should consider more than reduction of Madison congestion. It must also address the zero-emissions goals expressed by Madison, protect wetlands and recreational areas and prohibit development of valuable agricultural land. An obvious solution is to electrify and exploit the existing state-owned rail corridors radiating from Madison throughout Dane County.
Ron Wolfe, Springfield