Transportation Planning Board

Public Transit

Metro Transit


Metro Transit provides regularly scheduled fixed-route transit service and demand-responsive paratransit service for people with disabilities within the City of Madison, Town of Madison, City of Middleton, a portion of the City of Fitchburg, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Commuter-only service is provided to the City of Verona and paratransit-only service is provided in the Village of Shorewood Hills. Metro Transit also provides supplemental school service within Madison Metropolitan School District boundaries, designed primarily to transport students in grades 6-12 to middle school and high school who do not have access to regular fixed-route service.


Metro Transit utilizes a transfer point system with timed transfers at four major transfer points (east, west, north, and south) and a minor transfer point in the City of Middleton. The Capitol Square also serves as an informal transfer point with service designed to allow convenient transferring wherever possible. Most routes are oriented to serve the downtown and UW-Madison campus areas serving high volumes of commuters, but the service area provides comprehensive coverage of most of the urban area.


Metro’s fixed-route service consists of 58 mainline routes, 4 UW campus routes, and supplemental school service. Of the mainline routes, 16 operate throughout each day, 22 are peak-period-only commuter routes, and the remaining 20 routes have other patterns. The primary campus circulator, Route 80, provided over 1.7 million rides in 2012, accounting for about 12% of Metro’s fixed-route ridership. Metro has a total of about 175 fixed-route buses in operation during the system’s maximum peak weekday service periods.


The service span for the mainline routes is generally from 6:00 am to 12:00 am on weekdays and 7:00 am to 10:30 pm on weekends with some trips beginning and ending outside of those times.


Metro operates most routes as local service with frequent stop spacing. However, some limited stop commute-oriented bus service exists, including Routes 25, 29, 48, 56, 57, 71, 72, 74, 75, and 84, that skip stops that are served by overlapping routes. Bus frequencies on routes are generally 30-60 minutes with some exceptions. Many corridors in central Madison are served by two or more overlapping routes, resulting in substantially lower headways.


A service change enacted in August 2013 introduced several changes to the Metro Transit system. Route 31 is a new route with peak period and weekend service to southeast Madison.  Routes 33 and 35 provide expanded commuter service in east Madison, extending service into the Grandview Commons neighborhood.  In addition, Routes 10, 14, 15, 18, and 40 saw significant changes and restructures.


Metro’s annual system-wide fixed-route ridership steadily climbed to 14.9 million in 2011, then dropped slightly to 14.6 million in 2012.  Ridership peaks when schools are in session at just over 60,000 boardings per day and drop to about 40,000 per day in the summer.


Transit incentives such as the unlimited bus pass programs negotiated with the University of Wisconsin, other major colleges, the City of Madison, and St. Mary’s and Meriter Hospitals, and the Commuter Card program have played a major role in boosting ridership. With the unlimited bus pass program, the university or employer distributes passes to its students or employees and is billed for their use. The program is also available to smaller businesses and neighborhood organizations. The Commute Card program allows businesses and organizations to provide public transit to its employees or members at a rate of $1.25 per ride. The employer or organization has the option of subsidizing all, part, or none of the commute card.


Other Public Transit and Specialized Transportation Services


The City of Monona contracts with a private provider to operate a weekday commuter route to downtown Madison and the UW campus and a flexible route service designed for seniors and people with disabilities. The Sun Prairie Shuttle consists of one route with three daily weekday round trips between East Towne and various points in Sun Prairie. The Cities of Sun Prairie and Stoughton contract with private providers for shared-ride taxi service.


The Dane County Department of Human Services (DCHS) Adult Community Services Division contracts with private providers for provision of several group trip and demand-responsive services for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income people. The Retired Senior Volunteer Driver Escort Program (RSVP) provides individual rides throughout the county by volunteers when other options are not available. YW Transit, operated by the YWCA, provides rides to work for qualified low-income people when other options are not available as well as night-time safe rides.