Bus line could join Milton, Whitewater and Janesville

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
— Janesville city officials will ask UW-Whitewater students to help support a bus service to link Janesville, Milton and Whitewater.

The support of the students, who are being asked to add $5 to their semester student fees, is key to the proposal.

The service could start as early as fall 2010.

The city of Janesville and Janesville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization received a grant from the Department of Transportation in 2009 to study the demand for bus service from the northern end of Janesville to the UW-Whitewater campus.

No bus service now exists between the three cities, although the county offers service for people with disabilities and senior citizens.

Dave Mumma, transit director, and Terry Nolan of the city’s planning department will present the results of the study to the university’s student senate Monday, April 26.

The study indicates the service for students and the general public could be feasible, Mumma said.

“Frankly, the UW-Whitewater support is going to make it or break it,” he said.

UW-Whitewater has an enrollment of about 11,000 students. The university’s 1,200 employees also could purchase the service through payroll deductions.

In a survey by consultants, students were asked to indicate their likelihood of riding the bus based on the cost.

About three-quarters said they would support student fees between $2.50 and $7.50 per semester in exchange for annual bus passes. About 20 percent said they would ride if a fare of about $2.50 were charged per ride in addition to the annual student fee.

Most UW campuses have arrangements with local transit systems to provide bus service to people with student IDs, Mumma said.

If the student senate approves, the Janesville, Milton, and Whitewater councils would be asked to get on board.

Costs for the cities would be reduced with federal subsidies.

The total projected cost for the optimal, seven-day service is $369,706. A reduced service plan with fewer trips on weekdays and weekends would cost $198,670.

The route likely would leave from the Janesville Mall and stop at the Pine Tree Plaza and the Van Galder Bus Co. There, passengers could connect to service to Madison and Chicago.

The route would continue to Milton and take Highway 59 to downtown Whitewater and the university campus. Some trips would go to Whitewater’s industrial park.

The fare per ride would be about $2.50 for students in addition to their student fee. The fare for the general public would be at least $3. The cost from Janesville to Beloit is $3, and the trip to Whitewater is longer, Mumma said.

In the survey, one-third if students said they would use the service on a regular basis. About half of those would be frequent riders. About 56 percent of the survey’s respondents said they would travel to Janesville for shopping.

Business people are interested in the service, both to tap labor markets and to bring shoppers to their stores, Mumma said.

“Like most things, it’s going to come down to a matter of money and the ability to fund the cost of operating the service,” Mumma said. “Obviously, UW-Whitewater and the students are a critical part of this mix.”

Last updated: 1:24 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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