Planned bus route to link Sun Prairie to downtown Madison

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) -- Sun Prairie, Madison, and Metro Transit are working on a bus route that would connect the two city as soon as August.

Currently, the plans for the route would have three buses making trips between the two cities during peak rush hour times.

"There are going to be five stops along East Washington, where people will be able to get off the bus coming from Sun Prairie or get on in Madison," said Philip Gritzmacher Jr., a planner with the City of Sun Prairie. "Downtown, Livingston, one on Milwaukee Street, one on Mendota close to Hy-vee, one close to Easte Towne Mall. And then the bus will make a circulator loop in Sun Prairie and Madison partially along American Parkway, just south of the Providence neighborhood and Prairie Lakes, near Grand and Main where the police department is here in Sun Prairie. The bus will then go over to Wal-Mart in that area on Main Street, and then head south down O'Keeffe."

Gritzmacher said the first bus will likely leave Madison around 6:30 in the morning, and will also stop at a park-and-ride the city is working on in Sun Prairie. He predicted the route would take about 45 minutes.

Timothy Sobota, Transit Planner for Metro Transit, said there is the potential for growth in the future.

"For right now, the bus trips are going to be more scheduled for the traditional work day type of situation," Sobota said. "But again, I'm excited for the opportunity that if Sun Prairie continues to grow the system, if there would be additional mid day trips that would be doing that, evening trips in the future, maybe weekend trips, that that would provide new opportunities."

Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser said working with Metro has been years in the making.

"Sun Prairie has been interested in having a connection with Madison Metro to move people from Sun Prairie into Madison, and people from Madison into Sun Prairie," he said. "We see it as an economic development issue."

Esser said the city is growing at a rate of about 800 to 1,000 people per year, and is also growing in terms of retail and commercial space.

“We look for those areas that are growing the fastest from an economic development standpoint," said Chuck Kamp, the Transit General Manager for Metro Transit. "We also look at those issues where people area accessing jobs as much from an equity as well as an economic development standpoint. And with the growth in Sun Prairie, it’s been a natural thing that we’ve tried to serve.”

Esser said having the route would allow people to work and live in both communities.

“We really see Madison Metro as the county wide transportation provider of the future, and the rest of our outlying communities tying into that," he said. "So for our perspective, that is exactly what’s happening here, and it’s the beginning of a long term relationship that over time could provide for the transportation needs of the entire county.”

The plans still need to be finalized and agreed upon by all three parties, and will receive community feedback. If the plan is ultimately approved, the route could begin as early as August.