Disability advocate thanks homeowners impacted as city installs 460 bus pads


MADISON, Wis. - Madison Metro Transit is upgrading hundreds of bus stops to meet accessibility standards. Over the next five years, 460 concrete boarding pads will be installed at all Metro stops that are not currently compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

All changes will take place on city-owned property, but the changes have hit close to home for property owners nearby. Last month FOX 47 brought you about Monica Johnson, who came home to a huge hole on her property. She later learned it was part of Metro Transit's accessibility efforts. A bus pad had been relocated and placed in her yard.

“It’s just really hard to accept that a giant monstrosity could be put in your yard without any kind of notice. I had no idea,” she said at the time.

Metro Transit spokesperson Mick Rusch said they’ve learned from that mistake and are committed to better communication going forward. Metro Transit is in the process of sending notices to any and all homeowners affected.

“Letters have been sent to about half of this list so far, with the mailing expected to be completed by the end of the week,” Rusch wrote in an email.

Homeowners will also receive a notice from the city’s engineering division ahead of any planned construction.

“I don’t have specific start times available to me, but it’s my understanding work in these various areas will start in the coming months,” Rusch wrote.

Jason Beloungy, the executive director of Access to Independence, a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities, said the changes will improve the current system and address issues like uneven curbs that make it hard for people with mobility issues to use local transit.

“It’s important that the systems are set up so that they're usable for everybody and that the user doesn't have to have additional barriers to being able to access that,” Beloungy said.

Beloungy said he understands homeowners’ concerns but hopes they can also see the upside to being a part of the project.

“Knowing that people have more access to their community, to employment and to the same Madison that you get to enjoy, that's a good opportunity, as well, and thanks for sharing your property,” Beloungy said.

Between 2019 and 2023 an additional $100,000 of borrowing annually will go to the Engineering-Bicycle and Pedestrian Sidewalk Program to install the bus pads. Metro staff estimate that 1,200 exiting bus stops currently meet ADA requirements.