Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

Public transportation

Public transit continues to play an important role in the state and local transportation scene. Wisconsin’s 81 public transit systems in both urban and rural areas rank among the nation’s best in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, connecting thousands of state residents to jobs, schools and other destinations.

Approximately 48% of Wisconsin transit riders are headed to work, 23% to school, 18% to retail, tourism or recreational destinations, and 10% to health care destinations. A study conducted in 2003 and updated in 2006 found that public transit saves Wisconsin riders and taxpayers an estimated $730.2 million annually – $597 million in savings to transit riders, which is then reinvested in the state’s economy, and savings of $74.3 million in public assistance spending and $58.9 million in home health care costs. In addition, a cost benefit analysis showed that investing in transit would produce a return of over $3 for each dollar invested. Additional information about the benefits of public transportation is available on this website.

The following state and federal funding programs can assist local governments and transit systems with operating and/or capital expenses to support public transportation services such as buses, vans and shared-ride taxi systems.

Bus and Bus Facilities Program

A federally-funded discretionary capital grant program providing capital funding to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct bus-related facilities. Eligible applicants include public agencies to private nonprofit organizations engaged in public transportation, including those providing services open to a segment of the general public, as defined by age, disability, or low income.

Federal Formula Grant Program for Rural Areas

Supports capital and operating expenses for public transportation services that are scheduled for and operated in non-urbanized areas (population under 50,000)

Federal Formula Grant Program for Urbanized Areas

A federally-funded grant program that assists transit systems in large communities (populations over 200,000) with capital expenditures. Transit systems in urban areas with populations between 50,000 and 200,000 may utilize the funds for capital or operating assistance.

Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP)

Allocates federal funds to further the development of skills and abilities for persons involved in providing transit services to rural and small urban areas.

State Urban Mass Transit Operating Assistance

Assists transit systems with operating costs. Eligible applicants include municipalities with populations greater than 2,500 including counties, municipalities and towns – along with transit or transportation commissions or authorities. Eligible public transportation services include bus, shared-ride taxicab, rail or other conveyance either publicly or privately owned.

Supplemental Transportation Rural Assistance Program (STRAP)

A federally funded program that provides operating and planning funds for public transit projects in non-urbanized areas. Eligible applicants include local public bodies or federally-recognized Native American tribal governing bodies.

Wisconsin Employment Transportation Assistance Program (WETAP)

An effort to connect low-income workers with jobs through enhanced local transportation services, WETAP integrates local, state and federal funding into a single program and award process administered jointly by WisDOT and the state Department of Workforce Development.

Questions about the content of this page:
John Alley, john.alley@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: November 4, 2014

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