Wausau asking public’s help to improve bus service

Metro Ride bus stop
Metro Ride bus stop(wsaw)
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:04 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wausau Metropolitan Planning Organization is asking for feedback on the needs for public transportation in the city and surrounding areas. They’re developing a five-year plan to better serve people who rely on buses to get to daily appointments or even work.

Director of Planning Initiatives for Ohio-based consulting firm RLS and Associates Laura Brown is tasked with finding out what does and doesn’t work in Wausau’s public transportation system.

“There is a need and an increasing demand for service, longer hours, service on weekends, and transit service to the surrounding communities outside the city of Wausau,” Brown said.

Christopher Weems lives in Wausau and relies on the bus every day. He isn’t able to drive and also has a limited income, but the bus routes don’t go to the places he needs to shop.

“You’ve got Goodwill, you’ve got Dollar Tree out in Weston, the new Aldi’s being built. Rib Mountain has all that. Walmart, especially with inflation, you can go to Walmart and have the money stretch a little bit further,” Weems said.

The number of passengers on buses in Wausau has gone down because fewer people feel they can rely on the bus for their needs.

“There’s less ridership because the transit service . . . for whatever reason, people aren’t riding the transit service, but perhaps it’s because the buses aren’t going where they need to go, and perhaps that’s why ridership was lower,” Brown said.

Weems says he meets a lot of people on the bus, and there’s a lot of frustration because it limits their ability to live their lives to the fullest.

“Stevens Point’s a lot smaller community than we are, and they have seven bus routes. They go to Whiting, Park Ridge, all their little communities, and we don’t have that,” Weems said.