Episode 30: Madison B-Cycle bike sharing

In cities of all sizes there is a new public transportation option that is convenient, flexible and inexpensive. Bike sharing allows you to have a bike when you need it and forget about it when you don't, without the hassles of parking and maintenance. Madison B-Cycle City Manager Claire Hurley explains how bike sharing works, who uses it and why it makes the city more livable. We also talk about utility and recreational bicycling in one of the most bike friendly cities in the country.

Madison B-Cycle was one of the first bike share systems in the United States. Bike sharing has been wildly successful in cities of all sizes and is rapidly expanding across the US and Canada. Check it out when you visit one of these places, and advocate for bike share in your own city. Follow the Bike Sharing Blog to read about international systems.

A few days later I completed a Tour de B-Cycle in which I toured the city by visiting all 32 stations in one day. The second half of this episode features a selection of audio from the adventure.

Episode 29: Madison Metro Transit

The unique geography of Madison, Wisconsin -- built on an isthmus, a narrow strip of land between two lakes -- creates an interesting bus service design. It's not quite narrow enough to put all buses on one street that everyone could walk to for very frequent service, but still there is frequent combined service on three corridors running the length of the isthmus. Like many agencies, Madison Metro Transit is struggling to manage steady growth in ridership. They were recently awarded the Outstanding Public Transportation Award for their efforts to improve and promote their service in innovative ways.  Marketing Director Mick Rusch joins me to discuss their services and some of the operational issues they deal with.

Bus routes and schedules are designed to facilitate connections at a series of transfer points at the edges of the city and downtown around the State Capitol. The most transit friendly city in Wisconsin has installed many transit priority facilities such as bus lanes and most notably a busway for the full length of the busy State Street pedestrian mall. The University of Wisconsin offers unlimited transit passes for their students, faculty and staff.

Metro Transit is struggling to deal with overcrowding and is even considering raising fares in order to increase service frequency. Would changing from a city department to a regional transit authority be the solution? Listen in to learn about bus-bike interaction, winter weather, bus technology and much more.

In the second half a listener shares a video on the structure of Singapore's bus and rail networks and suggests that privatized transit can only work well when heavily regulated. But if a public entity makes all the important decisions, is it still attractive to those who advocate for deregulation?  We also consider whether transit agencies should strive for profit, and suggests a way for the public sector to capture and reinvest some of increasing real estate values that their services facilitate.

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