Transportation expert says new bus rapid transit system would help decrease Madison’s congestion

Since Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway announced her proposal for a wheel tax, it’s sparked a lot of conversations among Madisonians.

While the tax has received a lot of scrutiny, transportation researcher and director for the State Smart Transportation Initiative, Eric Sundquist, said the bus system would help decrease Madison’s congestion issues.

Sundquist said the current Metro bus system in place now, “has one of the highest usages for any bus system of this size in the country.”

When asked if this bus rapid transit system would actually help decrease congestion, he said,” The answer is yes. We know that from research that when transit goes away, congestion gets really bad.”

But a lot of taxpayers aren’t too happy about the new tax.

Sundquist said there are some misconceptions about where your money would be going.

“Seventy five percent of that tax is not going to the BRT. Most of that tax is going to police and fire and other city services. Five or six or seven (dollars) of that would go to BRT.”

Whether people are in favor of paying the tax or not, Sundquist said studies have shown that bus rapid transit has worked in many other places.

“When we provide more efficient faster transit, people use it more. One of the things that keep people from using transit is travel time because the bus stops in a lot of places and it has to wait while people pay. It just takes a long time. So if you make it more like a train so it goes faster, you get more ridership.”

While the wheel tax may not be too favorable among many, Sundquist said we need to do something to address the problem and that, “There’s really not very many other options. If we had all the money in the world, would we rather have a light rail or something like that? Sure. But this is done for like a fraction of the cost.”

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.