Transit Equity

By Mark Quam, Co-Chair of the JONAH Transportation Task Force

On February 5, 2024, Eau Claire Transit observed Transit Equity Day in observance of Rosa Park’s birthday which took place on February 4. Transit Equity Day is a national event  that recognizes public transit as a civil right and also a means to combat climate change. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared February 4, 2024, as Transit Equity Day in Wisconsin with an official declaration seal and signature proclamation.

Eau Claire Transit commemerated the event by setting aside one seat on each city bus on which was placed a rose and a picture of Rosa Parks and by offering free bus fares for the entire day, compliments of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transit Union. This marks the fifth year that Eau Claire Transit participated in Transit Equity Day. City and local officials, including WI State Senator Jeff Smith, also honored the event. Paratransit was included in Transit Equity Day and free fares were honored for them.

The Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance continues to work with JONAH’s Transportation Task Force to address local public transportation needs and issues.  Currently, Eau Claire Transit is studying bus route changes in the City of Altoona. The City of Altoona pays into the Eau Claire Transit system and is looking to expand bus service to better serve more areas of Altoona. The expanded bus route system for Altoona is being explored at the moment, and the Eau Claire Transit Commission and Eau Claire Transit will make recommendations within the following year. Public hearings will take place on the proposed Altoona route changes before they are finalized.

Efforts are currently moving forward to bring passenger rail service back to Eau Claire. WisDOT recently received Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Corridor Identification grants for several proposed new passenger rail routes in Wisconsin. The Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission, based in West-Central WI, received a $500,000 FRA Corridor ID grant to study the restoration of passenger rail service between Eau Claire, Menomonie, Baldwin, Hudson, Still Water, and St. Paul, MN. WisDOT also received a $500,000 FRA Corridor ID grant to study the restoration of passenger rail service between Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire, and the Twin Cities. The FRA and WisDOT will be working together with the Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission to study the Eau Claire connections.