Bus service expanded in Beloit, Whitewater, Janesville and Milton
JANESVILLE Starting this week, Beloit residents can ride buses to Whitewater and back in the same day for the first time since 1982.
UW-Whitewater students living in Janesville can ride to campus at a reasonable morning hour.
Milton residents can board a bus at Freedom Plastics or The Gathering Place and ride to Janesville.
The expanded Janesville bus service that started Monday is another improvement in the area's regional transportation system, said Dave Mumma, Janesville Transit System director.
A $243,525 rural state transportation grant is helping pay for the Janesville Transit System's expanded service to Beloit, Janesville, Milton and Whitewater.
The grant is intended to improve bus service in rural areas and small towns, Mumma said.
"It takes a while for a new service to get going," Mumma said. "This is exactly the situation this program was intended to help."
The routes connect riders to Van Galder Bus, which serves a large area, including Madison and Chicago.
The expanded schedule builds on the framework of the Innovation Express created last year by Janesville Transit System to serve Generac Power Systems, a Whitewater company that footed part of the bill. Most passengers have been Generac employees because trips left at times convenient to the company's three work shifts.
The new schedule doubles the number of trips to better serve UW-Whitewater students and those traveling to work or shop.
Features of the expanded service include:
-- More bus runs before regular bus service operations for Janesville's south side residents. They include 4:45 a.m. pickups and 11:15 p.m. drop-offs at the Rock County Job Center and at similar times along the route to and from downtown Janesville.
-- Service for UW-Whitewater students. A new morning trip will leave the Janesville Transfer Center at 7:45 a.m. and arrive at UW-Whitewater at 8:45 p.m., in time for classes that start at 9 a.m. A second afternoon trip will leave Janesville at 3:45 p.m. and the college campus at 5:10 p.m. to fill the gaps between the 12:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Janesville departures.
-- Better weekend service. Three new Saturday trips will leave Janesville at 7:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. An additional Sunday trip at 12:45 p.m. will supplement the 8:45 p.m. departure. The Sunday trips will serve college students arriving in Janesville on Van Galder buses after weekends out of town.
-- Connections to Beloit. Several Innovation Express trips connect with the "Beloit-Janesville Express" operated by Janesville and Beloit transit systems. For example, someone could get on the bus in Beloit at noon, get to Janesville at 12:45 p.m., transfer to the Innovation Express and arrive in downtown Whitewater by 1:45 p.m. The ride would cost $6.30.
-- Expanded service in Milton and Whitewater. The bus had stopped on Milton's east side and headed to Whitewater. Now, it arrives on John Paul Road and travels to the industrial park, past City Hall, the library and the senior center.
A sponsoring consortium including the cities of Milton and Whitewater, UW-Whitewater and Generac are chipping in for a total of about $62,000.
In the first eight months of service of the Innovation Express, 5,167 passenger trips on three weekday and one Sunday trip generated $15,498 in revenue, Mumma said.
Another 18,000 passenger trips will be needed on the expanded service this year to meet revenue goals of an additional $54,000.
Bus passes now are available at Piggly Wiggly and City Hall in Milton, in addition to existing locations at the Whitewater Municipal Center Finance Office and the UW-Whitewater Visitors Center.
Mumma is excited that UW-Whitewater professor Thomas Hixson and his students will create a marketing plan for the bus service.
He thinks the service will meet expectations.
"I think this proves to my mind that there is a need for a regional outlook toward transportation," Mumma said.
To learn more
More information on Janesville Transit System services is available at all pass sales outlets; on the buses; on the Janesville city website, ci.janesville.wi.us/jts; soon on the UW-Whitewater website, uww.edu; and by calling the JTS office at 608-755-3150.