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2015 Strategic Plan (PDF)



Madison Area Bus Advocates envisions a sustainable, fiscally-sound, improved, and expanded public transit system throughout the Greater Madison Area that has frequent service on key routes, affordable fares, improved passenger amenities, accommodates 2nd and 3rd shift workers, and is regional in nature. It aims to empower transit riders and friends, and insists on social justice.

While at first glance, having a modern regional transit system would seem to involve massive new expenditures at a time when austerity measures are in vogue, enhancing the use and appeal of public transportation actually saves both the community and the individual money while providing good, local, long-term jobs, including dependable access to job training, job interviews and offered employment. In the short term, we focus on:

  1. The development of a region-wide transit system in Dane County that respects the existing bus system;
  2. Establishing a multi-modal terminal in Madison that provides for seamless and convenient connections between inter- and intra-city travel;
  3. Advocating for the elimination of a minimum parking requirement in new development or neighborhood upgrades so parking and housing are unbundled and people can choose how they want to spend their money on transportation and housing;
  4. Promoting the development of coordinated and cost-effective policies toward streets, bicycle lanes, pedestrian ways, transit, and parking, sometimes referred to as Transportation Demand Management strategies;
  5. Fostering a coordinated system of local and streamlined rapid buses that adheres to a grid design and has naturally-occurring transfer points.


Main Body

A Regional Transport Authority Madison has grown from a self-contained metropolis to a central city in an urbanized area with over 27 different local units of government. Typical of urban/suburban growth throughout the United States, the result has been a central city with an old and limited public transportation system surrounded by suburbs with no public transit at all. There is a clear need for a modern transportation system that services the entire region. MABA supports the enactment of State Enabling Legislation that would allow the creation of a Regional Transport Authority (RTA) in the Madison Urbanized Area. Actually having an RTA will require significant "grassroots" collaboration between constituent local governments -- including Dane County, the City of Madison, and surrounding Cities, Towns and Villages -- to convince the State Legislature that we are collectively able to assume the responsibility of running an RTA. Pending willingness of the Legislature to enact the necessary RTA legislation, MABA will support and participate in regional cooperative initiatives designed to expand upon the current Madison METRO Bus Service Area.

Planning concepts supported by MABA include more direct routing, more frequent service, preferential treatment for buses in mixed traffic and fully dedicated lanes for buses where feasible. A bus system in turn should be only one component of a more comprehensive transportation system that includes convenient connections to local shuttles, van-pools, shared-ride taxis, bicycle paths and pedestrian ways. Additionally, even when an RTA has a locally dedicated source of revenue, it still needs the technical and financial support of the State, something fiscally reasonable given that a comprehensive regional transit system helps avoid regional highway network costs to the State. We expect Citizen Participation to be fully integrated into the regional transit planning process.

Establishing a Multi-Modal Terminal in Madison Madison needs a multi-modal transit terminal for the seamless connection of inter-city and local transit. Madison used to have an intercity bus terminal, but the City approved redevelopment of the site in 2009. Currently, no terminal of any kind exists. At this writing, Madison just budgeted for the development of a comprehensive transportation plan that will help guide transportation projects within Madison and will also speak to the need to accommodate intercity bus travel. MABA will encourage that plan to include the development of a multi-modal terminal. Ideally, a terminal is the joint responsibility of the city, the county, and the state or, when it exists, of a regional transport authority.

Advocating for the elimination of a minimum parking requirement In an effort to reduce on-street parking, the City of Madison’s newly revised zoning code stipulates that all new developments outside a special area downtown provide at least one parking space per residential unit whether that space is used or not. Paying for that stall can be expensive, especially if it is built underground. A household that does not own a car does not need a stall and should not have to pay for one. If paying for a parking stall were optional instead of required, someone could choose to spend more money on housing, less on transportation and less overall. Eliminating the minimum parking requirement could make housing in Madison more affordable throughout the city.

Promoting the Development of Coordinated and Cost-Effective Policies Toward Streets, Bicycle Lanes, Pedestrian Ways, Transit, and Parking An important way to move toward a more balanced, multimodal transportation system is to adopt reasonable strategies for reducing the current over-use of Single Occupancy Vehicles while providing cost savings to travelers (sometimes known as Transportation Demand Management strategies). Such strategies have been in existence for decades. It is a win-win proposition for employers and others to consider such travel options as biking, walking, transit, and ride-sharing; such strategies as universal transit passes, telework, flexible work schedules, “smart parking,” road pricing and road space allocation (bike lanes, transit-only lanes). Parking policies can include maximizing space use with GPS, parking cash-out programs, and allocating priority parking to carpools, vanpools, and short-term parkers.

Fostering a coordinated system of local and streamlined rapid buses with naturally-occurring transfer points The Madison Area has become too large to be served adequately by only one type of bus. We need local AND express or rapid buses. Local buses should go in one direction rather than meander, stop frequently enough to serve many needs, and use naturally-occurring transfer points that accompany a grid rather than concentric system. Rapid buses should go on major corridors and stop infrequently to speed travel. Main roads can have frequent service with shuttles at their ends carrying riders to/from less-used origins or destinations.