New transfer station at the center of transit report

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis (WEAU) - It's a program that helps more than one-million people a year get around the City of Eau Claire.

Now a new report has the Eau Claire Transit System looking at changes for the future.

The Eau Claire Transit system hired a group to study the cities bus routes and make suggestions for the future. While the report gave Eau Claire high marks in some areas, other areas including Eau Claire’s aging Transfer Center could use some help.

“We rode off and on for years and then just recently just started frequently riding in the past month,” Colleen O’Neal said.

For Colleen and her daughter Chey, getting on the bus is a daily occurrence. After Colleen's car broke down the two turned to the city's transit routes to get to and from work and school, but riding the bus nearly every day isn't always easy.

“During the winter they aren't always on time because of the ice and bad weather. It’s pretty understandable but it gets pretty cold waiting outside,” Chey O’Neil said.

“Eau Claire isn't bad, I just wish they would run on Sunday,” Colleen O’Neal said.

Both Collen and Chey have some suggestions that Eau Claire Transit Manager Mike Branco says he has on his radar.

“This report is quite intense. It’s over 150 pages and that takes a wide look at our transit system,” Transit Manager Mike Branco said.

Branco says a consulting firm has been studying the transit system for the past few months. As part of a report unveiled to the public Monday the firm has a few recommendations to improve the way busses run in the city.

“Where we found some shortcomings were the span of service so the hours that Eau Claire transit serves there isn't a lot of service out there on the weekend or on the weeknights,” Joe Kapper of SRF Consulting Group said.

While the report gave Eau Claire high marks in service coverage, it suggests adding more routes on the weekend--especially on Sundays. In addition the report says the city needs to consider investing in a new transit center if it wants to expand in the future.

“Quite frankly if we are going to go forward any of the recommendations to add service we are going to need a new space because we are running out. We have no space at the current location,” Branco explained.

Branco says before they look into replacing the transfer center they need to first replace at least three busses. He says last budget period they were only given enough money to afford one bus.

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