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NBC15 Investigates: Surprise bus stop causes worry for Madison small business

Published: Dec. 27, 2020 at 5:40 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The City of Madison is responding to complaints about a surprise bus stop after a small business owner says he may have lost customers because of it.

“It was shocking,” Simon Lee, the owner of Oriental Food Mart, said. In the two decades that he worked at the S. Park St. location, Lee said he had never seen a Metro Transit bus stop right in front of his store.

Since August, the bus stop had blocked delivery trucks and customers from parking on the street, the only option they had. Lee said several of his customers were ticketed without warning, adding to his fears that they might not return.

Lee works alongside his wife Sonhua, who said her business had been struggling to compete with grocery store chains in recent years.

“They should’ve asked us how we felt,” Sonhua said, in Korean. “Instead of asking us once, the bus stop came out of nowhere. It has been so hard for us.”

The Lees said they reached out to Metro Transit several times, requesting a site visit, but did not get the response they wanted. NBC15 took the complaint to Mick Rusch, the marketing and customer service manager at Metro Transit.

Upon NBC15′s request, Rusch said that a safety supervisor visited the site again, concluding that it was the “ideal” spot in terms of safety. The stop outside Oriental Food Mart was closer to a crosswalk with a light, he explained, and a soon-to-be apartment complex.

The Park St. move was part of a citywide shuffle of bus stops in August.

In October, the city’s Transportation Commission introduced the Standard Operating Procedure, which would require Metro Transit to notify affected businesses about an incoming bus stop. Anyone with concerns can take the issue to the commission’s public meetings.

“We’ve had these concerns in the past, so we knew changes needed to be made. Obviously it wasn’t quick enough to fix this situation,” Rusch said.

He also confirmed, Metro Transit did not consult with the Oriental Food Mart before adding the stop.

“Hopefully we have improved our process, and hopefully we can find an alternate solution like we have done this time,” Rusch said.

As of mid-December, the bus stop has moved a block away to the intersection of S. Park St. and Midland St. Rusch explained, Metro Transit realized the market had no other parking options available, and the apartment complex across the street was still under construction.

So far, the move is temporary. Metro Transit says it will work to find the ideal spot.

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