August 20th, 2013

Wisconsin, Madison

Service improvements and diminishments

It's an exciting time for bus riders here in Madison: in just five short days, the new bus routes and schedules go live! The new ride guides and maps are already on the buses, and people are just enthralled by the changes.

OK, that's mostly not true. There are probably a few people who are genuinely looking forward to the routing changes: the residents of the Owl Creek neighborhood, which will be receiving bus service for the first time; westsiders traveling to or from downtown; people living in certain far east neighborhoods. But if I'm in any way representative of the typical Madison Metro passenger, most people won't be affected by the changes at all. Most of the routes I ride most frequently aren't changing at all. Based on the preliminary announcement of what would be changing, I was worried that my trip to church on Sundays might be disrupted by an adjustment to Route 5 on weekends, but in fact it stayed the same. The one route I ride pretty regularly that did change in an inconvenient way was counterbalanced by a convenient change to another route that will get me the same place at the same time. Hooray!

The change I'm looking most forward to won't happen on August 25; in fact, I'm not sure when it will be happening. Since the end of June, road construction on the street that parallels mine has forced two of the routes I ride most frequently to be detoured. This has had the effect of doubling the distance I have to walk to catch those two buses. The distance is still very short, mind you: two-tenths of a mile. But those tenths of a mile add up; by the end of the week, I've walked an extra 1.5 miles. Not that I don't need the exercise, but still. It's the principle of the things.

In addition to that, there is in certain circumstances an actual inconvenience to my regular bus stop being closed. The outbound bus from downtown is scheduled to get to my regular bus stop about 15 minutes before the inbound bus gets to the stop across the street. My house is close enough to that corner that, if necessary, I can get off the one bus, walk home, pick up whatever it is I needed to go home for, and get back to the corner without even needed to hurry, unless the bus is running really behind schedule. With the detour, though, I do need to hurry, and if the bus is even as little as five minutes behind, it's all but impossible to get home and back.

Rumor has it that the detour will come to an end at the end of August, so my long municipal nightmare is almost at an end. But who knows? All Metro says is the detour is "expected" to end in August. Last time I looked, the construction zone still looks pretty deconstructed. But eleven days, that's a fair amount of time; maybe the streets department will pull it off. I won't hold my breath, though.