New plan offers recommended improvements to city bus system

Improvements could come to the Municipal Transit Utility bus service in La Crosse. A new transit plan recommends changes to improve the system.

The 2015 Grand River Transit Plan was created by the La Crosse Area Planning Committee.

The plan is the result of several public meetings and surveys that included riders, students and local universities and major employers in the area.

The goal is to provide the community with more and better options when it comes to riding the bus.

When you hop on the bus, MTU wants to make sure you’re ride is a smooth one.

MTU Transit Director Keith Lee said the newly designed plan was created with the rider in mind.

“Well, we always want to take a look at the service we provide, get public input, make changes where changes are necessary, make it more efficient, make it more convenient for riders and have a long range plan,” Lee said.

The plan has a list of recommendations broken into short’, mid’, and long-range ideas.

Short-term plans include what the La Crosse Planning Area Committee considers minor changes that could be implemented within the next couple years; things such as relocating signs and bus stop shelters, as well as small improvements to certain routes.

“So we have four routes that have some minor modifications to improve access and to make them two-way, where some segments are just one direction, to make them two directions to make them more convenient for people,” said Jackie Eastwood, transit planner with the planning committee.

Eastwood said the mid-range recommendations are more of a financial investment. She said one major mid-range idea, with a lot of upside, is a modified route to include a bus stop at the Amtrak station.

“There’s future plans for improving Amtrak service so it would be golden basically to have good bus service to be able to take those people who live in La Crosse, who are visiting La Crosse, to get them from the station into the city,” Eastwood said.

Long-term plans include adding two routes. One would be considered an express route, connecting the Shelby Mall, the Valley View Mall and Woodman’s.

The second would be a circular route, connecting the student housing areas near the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Western Technical College with the downtown area.

“Right now, we’ve got indirect service, they’re still served, but some people like to have more door-to-door service. So just a circulatory (route) that would give you 15-minute service,” Eastwood said.

These ideas are just recommendations at this point. The MTU Board will look over the plan and decide whether to approve it or make modifications.

Lee said there are always financial challenges, but once the plan is approved MTU will look at the cost of each change and evaluate them individually.

The MTU Board will decide whether to approve the plan at its meeting next month.