‘Frustration’: State Street business owners sound off on plans to build newer, larger bus stops

MADISON, Wis. – State Street business owners say they’re opposed to the city’s plan to build larger, newer bus stations in a concentrated area near the Capitol Square.

The new platforms would be part of the city’s ongoing preparations for the Bus Rapid Transit program, and would replace bus stops already along the street.

Business owners like John Hayes, who owns Goodman’s Jewelers, oppose the plan.

They don’t make sense to be that big on this street,” Hayes said. “To block off an entire frontage of 3-4 businesses with a bus stop. If you count the number of people on the busses that go by here, it doesn’t justify it.”

Hayes says frustrations from business owners along State Street has been brewing for months, most recently emphasized when the city turned down the request to turn the street into a pedestrian promenade on select days.

The city doesn’t really want to seem to listen to the issues that are important to the merchants downtown,” Hayes said. “The busses and creating huge bus stops is not a great advantage for merchants on the street.”

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway says the city plans to work with business owners to get both sides on board with the plan.

I understand there are some concerns,” the mayor said after a press conference Friday afternoon. “I think that we’ve had a really good conversations to date. Our staff are working hard to make sure we’re designing plans for something that’s going to work in the space that we have. I think at the end of the day, this is going to be a benefit to our entire community.”

In a statement to News 3 Now, the State Street Business Association said it wasn’t opposed to the plans to develop the BRT, but wishes the city would move the stops to higher traffic areas, keeping the top of the street free and clear for pedestrians. The city plans to meet with business owners next week to discuss possibilities.

This is the heart of Madison. It’s the centerpiece of the state. We need to make sure it survives and it thrives,” Hayes said. “The city, mayor specifically, doesn’t really understand what it is to be a merchant. She’s a politician. That’s her job. But her job should entail finding out what people need and what is going to work instead of making grandiose plans and just trying to push them through.”