The Bus Stops Here: For an Electrifying Experience

The city of Madison wants to run completely on renewable energy. As Metro Transit currently accounts for almost a fifth of the city government’s energy use according to a recent study, electrifying the bus fleet could play a significant part in reaching that goal. It helped that Metro was recently awarded a grant enabling it to purchase three electric buses, a first for Wisconsin. The buses are expected to start operating in 2019. Beside emitting less noxious exhaust fumes, electric buses can be much quieter than diesel-powered buses.

The Bus Stop Here: Living on TIPs

A good indication of Madison’s current view of its bus system is how transit rates relative to other transportation items in the TIP, otherwise known as the Madison Area Transportation Board’s Transportation Improvement Plan. A Spring ritual in the transportation world is to quietly start the process of updating the next year’s TIP, which gets finalized in the Fall. The TIP is a compiled listing of planned short-range projects. By May, Madison’s engineers responsible for road/street and pedestrian/bicycle projects have already presented drafts of the TIP to oversight bodies, such as the Board of Public Works, the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee and the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission. Unfortunately, neither Metro Transit nor the Parking Utility has exposed their oversight committees to that level of public scrutiny, nor do they appear to intend to do so.

Deregulation of Wisconsin taxi companies fails to pass State Assembly

A bill that would take the regulation of taxicabs from local governments and give it to the state failed to pass during legislative session after receiving strong backlash from cities and cab companies. The bill, AB 918, would remove the authority of local governments to license and regulate taxicab operators and businesses. Instead, the state agency the Department of Safety and Professional Services would handle all licenses and regulations. The legislation is similar to a bill passed in the previous session that banned municipal legislation for companies like Uber and Lyft, which are referred to in the bill as Transportation Network Companies. According to a statement from the bill's author, Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), this legislation is needed to create a statewide regulation and ensure that taxicabs can compete with TNCs.

The Bus Stops Here: A Tiff About TIFs

In an era in which the state has been strangling public transit agencies financially while prohibiting local areas from establishing regional transport authorities, there is a little-known existing state tax policy that could offer limited help called Tax Incremental Financing districts or TIFs. However, TIFs are most often used to further the car-centric urban sprawl that has been bleeding cities financially rather than bolstering them with socially and environmentally sustainable transit-oriented development. Instead of using TIFs to draw residents into Madison from nearby, it is being used to drive people away and to further weaken its tax base. That is not the intent of course, but it is what it is going on. Madison and other municipalities around Wisconsin are using TIF money to build expensive infrastructure – including parking lots and wide roads – that it cannot afford.

Madison Recycling System sets ambitious goals while educating public on services

Before the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the City of Madison established the first curbside recycling collection in the nation when it began collecting newspapers in 1968. During the past half-century, the waste management program in Madison continues to grow and change, but there is still need for improvement. “Nearly 60 percent of all the waste we generate as a city is recycled, which is fantastic. But that also leaves plenty of room to get better,” said Bryan Johnson, the City of Madison Recycling Coordinator. According to the EPA, the United States recycles about 35 percent  of the waste it creates.

Media Digest March 15, 2018

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Youth plan a walkout Wednesday in honor of the victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. 

Education

Madison middle school students will get an hour more to sleep in the morning under a plan to move the start time to 8:40 a.m. in the fall. A high school music concert is about more than the performance; it’s about the composition.  Graduation rates for black students increased between 2016 and 2017. Development

An affordable-housing development doesn’t have money to get started, but it does have the required permits. Hotel Indigo, which will be on the site of an East Washington warehouse, got the funding it needs to move forward.

Golf Subcommittee to decide fate of Madison city courses

After years in the black, up to half of the greens in the Madison could be shuttered. Faced with a steep bill for needed renovations, a subcommittee will decide the future of golf operations in the city this Spring. If it can’t get a subsidy for golf course improvements, the committee will look for funding in hole closures. “The crux is that the city doesn’t fund capital improvement projects like this, so we’ve fallen behind. The sprinklers are 40 to 50 years old,” said David Wallner, Madison Parks Commission president and Golf Subcommittee member.

Media Digest March 8, 2018

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A Madison-based electronic monitoring company for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections was told of problems and unnecessary jailings five years ago, but the problems have continued and the number of people under GPS monitoring has doubled. Education

The Read Up Madison program thrives because of donors, and fundraising is underway now.  Madison schools are promising security upgrades as part of the continuing conversation on school safety following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Crestwood Elementary class is getting recognition for its stop-motion movie project. Development

Residents are fighting the planned extension of the electrical grid through Madison and the Driftless area.

At Madison’s Truax Field, New F-35 Fighter Jet Prompts Questions of Economics, Politics, Livability

On a quiet Saturday in October, Ed Blume was working in the yard of his home, raking the leaves that had begun to fall from the trees in his neighborhood, a residential community just south of the Dane County Regional Airport. Suddenly, a piercing crescendo broke the calm of Blume’s afternoon. Blume saw pedestrians on the sidewalk clamp their hands over their ears as the noise grew louder, rising to an abrasive wail as a flight of three F-16 fighter jets tore over Blume’s house at low altitude. Having lived in this east side home for ten years, Blume is no stranger to the noise of these aircraft – and he’s not the first generation to learn to live with them. Combat aircraft have been a regular presence in the skies over the Isthmus since the 1942 activation of Truax Field, then a military training facility for aircraft technicians.

City of Madison seeks community input regarding 2018 draft of Future Land Use Map

The final opportunity to share thoughts on the 2018 draft of the Future Land Use (FLU) map in Madison is approaching. As part of the Imagine Madison public listening campaign, the City of Madison is seeking input on long-term plans that focus on issues of equity, health, sustainability, and adaptability.  With this in mind, the City of Madison developed the 2018 FLU map for Madison to designate areas for development efforts. “The map is not yet final and staff and the Plan Commission continue to listen to residents who have input, ideas, concerns about the FLU map,” Ledell Zellers member of the Madison City Council said. After reviewing public comments received in early 2017, the planning committee developed an updated version of the FLU map.