Sun Prairie commuters will have a public transit option between the city and Madison with the Aug. 26 launch of Metro Transit express bus service.
Route 23 route will operate during morning and afternoon peak times between the Capital Square and Sun Prairie with limited E. Washington Avenue stops.
The city has worked for years to bring public transportation to the city, first establishing the city’s shared-ride taxi, and operating a shuttle to East Towne that links with Metro Transit.
A Metro Transit to the city was out of reach until a logistical change freed up buses for the new route.
The new Sun Prairie service will stop on Hoepker Road, Legacy Way, Blue Aster Blvd., W. Main Street and O’Keeffe Avenue. There’s also a park and ride lot at O’Keeffe Avenue and Reiner Road.
To get ready for the bus service launch, city officials fast-tracked the park and ride lot construction. City planner Phillip Gritzmacher says the lot will be ready on Monday but the shelter, landscaping, and other security features won’t be in place until weeks later.
Officials have pegged the park and ride lot as crucial after would-be riders said that it would be their top way to access the service.
A commuter bus service survey, done by the University of River Falls for the city, found that 47 percent of survey takers showed some level of interest in the weekday express service.
The estimated bus service cost for 2020 is $386,000, with city costs around $129,000. Fare revenue, bus advertisement, and federal funding would cover the rest.
The city is conservatively estimating that ridership revenue will cover roughly 10 percent of operational costs, Gritzmacher said.
The City of Sun Prairie operates a shared-ride taxi service with Running Inc. and is reviewing a pass agreement with Metro Transit. Gritzmacher said he doesn’t expect any action on that soon because the contract is up with Running Inc. at the end of the year and the city will need to go out for request of proposals for the service.
With Monday’s launch of Route 23, city officials will gather rider numbers to gauge the success of the service.
“We will look at the data to evaluate the existing service and how it is aligning with people’s needs,” Gritzmacher said.