The Public Weighs in on Proposal to Reduce Bus Stops on Monroe St.


A public hearing on the proposed bus stop changes on Monroe Street was held last Wednesday evening in front of the Transit and Parking Commission, giving community members an opportunity to voice their opinions.

The hearing was called to gauge public concern about Metro’s proposal to consolidate and shift the bus stops along Monroe Street, resulting in a reduction of 6 stops along the corridor.

According to Metro, the proposed changes would increase on-time performance along Monroe Street routes, as well as increasing safety and visibility for pedestrians and drivers alike. Drew Beck, Metro’s Planning and Scheduling Manager, said that the complete reconstruction of the street provided the opportunity to make adjustments.

“Monroe Street is undergoing a lot of change, and we want to be an integral part of that planning,” Beck said.

Despite these potential benefits, community members in opposition of the changes had several concerns.

The removal of a stop in front of the Monroe Street Public Library branch concerned a number of residents who came to speak.

According to Yvonne Schwinge, a commuter who works on Monroe Street, the bus stop not only raised awareness of the public library, but also provided access to its amenities for those waiting on busses.

“Since the stop is directly outside the library, it provides a safe, warm place to wait,” said Schwinge.

Some community members noted that the bus stop consolidation would remove street parking from 5 local businesses.

“The current bus stops are excellent and safe,” said John Villesarian, a resident of the neighborhood. “Why move them? Get some common sense.” 

The proposal is consistent with Metro policy to consolidate or remove bus stops to meet distancing guidelines set by the latest Transit Development Plan.

“In recent years, we have begun ‘thinning out’ the stops somewhat to improve on-time performance of various routes,” said Beck. “In more peripheral, lower density areas, the stops are placed further apart.”

According to Schwinge, Increasing the distance between stops creates difficulties for many residents who depend on public transit. It limits accessibility to amenities that aren’t at every stop, such as bus shelters, and makes riders walk longer in unideal conditions, such as unplowed snow. 

“Longer distances in high density residential areas increases hardship,” said Schwinge.  

Angela Thorp, a frequent bus commuter, agreed. 

“You need to think about the length of two or three blocks,” said Thorp. “For some, the walk is fine. If you are elderly, on crutches or carrying a heavy load, it is not”

According to Royce Williams, a longtime Madison resident and frequent bus user, the issue of Monroe Street raises questions about Metro’s priorities.

“Transit planners have a tough job because they need to balance performance with convenience for their ridership,” said Williams. “Metro needs to be held accountable for their ridership.”

However, according to Beck, the Metro needs to consider the convenience of many types of riders. The focus on on-time performance along Monroe Street was also motivated by needs of low-income riders who use the routes along Monroe to reach transfer points.

“A high proportion of low-income riders use these routes to get to transfer points to get to work,” said Beck. “It’s a big issue. A lot of these people simply don’t have a choice, and can’t be late. 

Several residents expressed their desire for a balance between on-time performance and the density of stops.

“Why do we have a bus service? So a driver can make the daunting length of Route Three quicker, or because constituents on a route need easy access to ride it?” asked one community member.

The Transit and Parking Commission will take public comments from the hearing into consideration and make a final decision on the proposal at their next meeting in August.