Making Changes

Eau Claire City Council discusses plans to improve the transit system

Story by Katy Macek, Copy Editor

In order to improve the Eau Claire transit system, three important things to focus on are the area the routes cover, how long the routes run and how often they run for, according to Mona Elabbady, a consultant on the Transit Development Plan.

At the Eau Claire City Council meeting Monday night, the Transit Development Plan was presented by Elabbady, Bob Bourne and Joseph Kapper, three consultants from SRF Consulting Group, Inc., which was granted the project by City Council in August.

Span and frequency both scored a C or lower on a Level of Service assessment because the current system has limited late evening service and no Sunday service, and most of the bus routes only run every hour, Elabbady said.

 However, with the current transit system in place, she said it would be difficult to work on improvements.

“If you want to add more routes and improve your system, there’s no room to do it,” Elabbady said.

In order to improve the system, the consultants concluded that the transfer center would need to be rebuilt in order to accommodate more buses for more routes and a more frequent system that also offered service on Saturday nights and Sundays.

“With expanded service and frequency, people are gonna have a little more mobility,” Bob Bourne said.

This will open up more public access to jobs, and healthcare, Bourne said. It will give the public more access to the city.

Donna Berry, a member of the Transit Commission, said that she was happy to see possibilities of potential expansion because with the changing environment it is important for the community to have a solid transit system running.

Young people hold off getting their driver’s license or an automobile, because she said it simply is more expensive than it used to be, and people are becoming more conscious of the environment.

“I suspect that many young people… will ultimately conclude that until they have children they don’t need to get a car,” she said.

While she understands that the process of improving the transit system could become quite expensive, she said there are different ways to create financing, but in the long run it will be a worthwhile investment for the community as a whole.

“People and businesses that choose to move here could depend on the transit system,” Berry said.

Jackie Pavelski, one of the newest members of the Transit Commission, said that it is also important to focus on how the transit system affects more than just Eau Claire and the university, but other areas as well.

The Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance, which is an organization that voices concerns for transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians in Eau Claire and neighboring counties, furthers the need for an improved system and justifies credibility, Pavelski said.

“It is critical that we consider the regional concept as well,” she said.

This could also potentially lead to funding, she said, because the effectiveness and efficiency of a transit system throughout the region could lead to possible grants.

While it is important to look at the improvements based on Eau Claire needs, she said it is also important to remember how the transit system affects the surrounding counties and keep that in consideration when plans are made.