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Making the connection with new bus service to Sun Prairie 11/6/2019

11/05/19, InBusiness Blog

Everyone is overbooked these days. We run from one work meeting or family obligation to another. It is sometimes tempting to skip the conference or an event to carve out just a little more time to clear items off our never ending to-do list. However, we risk missing the connection.

I follow transportation news, so I knew Metro Transit in conjunction with the city of Sun Prairie had recently added an express route between Sun Prairie and downtown Madison. As a resident of Sun Prairie, I planned to check out this new service. It was on my to-do list.

But at a recent public transportation conference, I had the pleasure of having my own Route 23 tutorial from Chuck Kamp, Metro Transit’s soon-to-be retiring general manager. His enthusiasm was catching as he explained the new service and walked me through using Google Maps for transit directions to ensure planning my trip would be a breeze.

Route 23 connects the two fastest-growing cities in Wisconsin — Madison and Sun Prairie. Three buses run approximately every half hour during rush hour Monday through Friday. The 23-mile service has 12 stops and takes 30 minutes or so.

A couple of days later, I boarded the bus. We picked up people at most stops. From the garb and accouterments, I was accompanied on the bus that morning by college students and people commuting to work. There was also a young family with a stroller who I imagined had plans to enjoy one of the last warm days of the year.

Earbuds were ubiquitous with riders lost in their worlds of music or podcasts. I chose to read. As an avid reader who has not had a lot of time for personal reading in the last several years, this was a luxury. By taking the bus, I knocked one item from both my to-do list and wish list, and all on my way to work.

I reported my experience back to Chuck, as requested.

Bottom line: my trip was great. For $2, I was driven from a bus stop not far from my home and dropped blocks from my office in downtown Madison. And did I mention I had about 30 minutes of what we called SSR (silent sustained reading) when I was growing up?

For commuters who don’t have a bus stop within walking distance, there is a new park-and-ride lot at the corner of Reiner Road and O’Keeffe Avenue. When I visited during the morning commute time a couple of weeks after my inaugural ride on Route 23, the lot was hopping.

Madison was recently ranked the fifth-best city in the nation for public transportation by WalletHub.com. Based on my experience with Route 23, I can understand why.

Downtown is geographically beautiful, though challenging from a transportation perspective. Being on an isthmus means land is at a premium, and the ability to add capacity to the roadways going to the Capitol Square is limited. According to recent news coverage, Dane County will see 85,000 new jobs, 100,000 new residents, and an additional 800,000 road trips by 2050. Congestion is projected to double.

If you drive East Washington Avenue into downtown regularly, you already spend a fair amount of time stuck in traffic. So, the projection of growing congestion — let alone a doubling of congestion — probably makes you twitch. However, coming in from Sun Prairie, you now have another option, Metro Transit’s Route 23. You should give it a try.

My job and life don’t allow me to take the bus every day, but I look forward to my next trip. My book is waiting.

In the absence of running into Chuck at the conference, Route 23 likely would still be on my to-do list, and I would have missed the bus.