Bus service would reconnect Racine to Parkside
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the Journal Times (Racine ) Thursday, April 26. It was written by reporter Christine Won.
After several years of finding other methods of transportation, local University of Wisconsin-Parkside students may be able to take the bus to school again starting in the fall.
On Wednesday the Racine Transit and Parking Commission unanimously recommended approving a proposed three-year agreement with Wisconsin Coach Lines to continue to provide commuter bus service linking Racine, Kenosha and Milwaukee, with some changes including reconnecting Racine to Parkside. The recommendation is scheduled to go to the City Council for final approval on Tuesday.
Wisconsin Coach Lines, a private company funded by state and federal dollars to operate the intercity commuter bus service, would pick up the Parkside stop dropped several years ago.
The university-funded Belle Urban System route was eliminated in 2006 after it lost Parkside funding amid concerns of student fees and low ridership, according to Journal Times archives.
The City of Racine, which has been administering the funds for the commuter service since the 90s, was told by the state to put out the contract for bid and Wisconsin Coach Lines, the current operator, was the only one to submit a proposal, according to Al Stanek, director of parking and transit for the city. No city dollars are used for the commuter service, Stanek said.
Facing an approximate 10 to 15 percent cut in state and federal operating assistance funding this year from last year's $715,000, commuter service is scheduled to be reduced from eight to seven trips per weekday. The weekend commuter trips--currently six--would stay the same.
Basic fares are expected to basically remain the same for now until the state aid amount is determined but Wisconsin Coach fares among the Racine County stops, currently $1.25, would go up to $2 starting May 20 so it doesn't undercut the increased BUS fares, Stanek said.
The commuter service would also eliminate the University of Wisconsin?Milwaukee stop effective May 20, under proposed changes.
However, Parkside will be added to the commuter service route for at least one trip in the morning from Racine and one return trip in the afternoon starting this upcoming school year. For Parkside students with valid IDs hopping on at a Racine stop, the discounted fare would be $1. For those transferring from BUS to the commuter bus, it'd be free.
Right now the commuter service takes Sheridan Road, Highway 32, straight down from Racine to Kenosha. When you look at the overall commuter trip from Milwaukee to Kenosha, adding the Parkside detour is "nearly insignificant," Stanek said.
The public will have a chance to comment on proposed changes at the next scheduled commission meeting on May 16.
Proposed Parkside service operated by Wisconsin Coach Lines
- At least one trip in the morning from any of the Racine stops to Parkside
- At least one return trip in the afternoon from Parkside to Racine
- For Parkside students with valid IDs hopping on at a Racine stop, the discounted fare would be $1. For those transferring from BUS to the commuter bus, it'd be free.
- Proposed to begin this upcoming school year