Madison is a the capital of Wisconsin and the home of the University of Wisconain. It’s a city of 270,000 people located around two large lakes. The network redesign was implemented on June 11, 2023.
Here’s the city’s map of its new network. (Click to enlarge, or see the original here.) Lines A, B, C, and D are all frequent (every 15 minutes all day) out to the point where they branch. (A1 and A2 refer to branches of Line A.)
Line A is designed to match the path of the forthcoming Bus Rapid Transit project, while Line B is the next BRT project after that one.
How much better is this? Here was the old network, in our style where red lines indicate high frequency:
The old network was all infrequent, except for the University of Wisconsin’s shuttle routes 80 and 84. The new network, by contrast, has four frequent lines (A-D) covering all of the densest inner city and radiating outward in several directions. But the oddest feature of the old network was the four satellite transfer points located just a few miles out from the city center. Most of the outlying area was on feeder routes, requiring a connection at one of these points just to reach downtown or the University of Wisconsin. These points did make it easy for people to travel locally within their area, but on balance, they did more to obstruct trips than they did to enable them.
Our plan largely deemphasized these facilities. Now, most of the city is on a direct route to the center, with much faster travel times. Satellite hubs can be valuable to foster a network that serves trips in many directions, but the South, East, and North Transfer points were too close to the center to serve as good hubs, and none of them had significant destinations at them that could benefit from the converging service. East Towne Mall, further out to the northeast, has a better future as a hub, both because it’s far enough from downtown and because it is a destination in its own right. The same may be true of West Towne Mall on the west side (where the new network’s A, H, and J routes converge.) However, even if those hubs emerge, the main radial services (Line A) will flow through them, not be interrupted by them.
We had a great time working in Madison. The city has many engaged advocates and stakeholders who provided great feedback, and many elected officials gave the project a lot of time and attention. We hope the new network will help people in Madison go to places they’d never have gone to before, to do things they might never have done.