Efforts to bring fast bus system to Madison in high gear

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Madison’s Department of Transportation has updates for its efforts to bring a fast, high-capacity bus system, but many questions about its details are still up in the air.

Thursday night, the city hosted its third public meeting for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Ahead of the meeting, Tom Lynch, the director of transportation, told NBC15 News that he is estimating the project’s cost to be between $120 million and $130 million. The Federal Transit Administration would cover about $100 million, and “local funds” would cover the remaining cost, according to Lynch.

A general projection of the route would start on the west side, go through downtown, reach Madison College and end at the East Towne Mall.

Lynch said that some of the ongoing discussions pertain to the specific roads the buses will take, particularly downtown.

“There are opinions on where the BRT route should be downtown,” Lynch said. “Some say, ‘We have to touch the square and it’s better,’ and some say, ‘No, it’d be better if it was off the square.”

Other debates concern whether buses will get their own dedicated lane or drive through mixed traffic.

“We have areas where we think we’d like a dedicated running way,” he said. “In most instances that takes away parking, so that’s an important thing for people to understand. We’re not taking away roadway capacity, but there will be parking reductions.”

The transportation director said there may be more public meetings in the fall to further discuss the details of the plan.