Manager's Forum

Green Bay, Wisc.
Christopher Phelps
Transit Director
Green Bay Metro, employed by First Transit Inc.

Green Bay, Wisc., has a long history of public transportation. Green Bay Metro provides transportation solutions for the Greater Green Bay urbanized area. This includes transit and paratransit services to the cities of Green Bay and De Pere, the villages of Allouez, Ashwaubenon, Bellevue, as well as the Onieda Tribe of Indians.

The state of Wisconsin currently has no authorizing legislation for the creation of regional transportation authorities. Therefore, funding is heavily dependent upon state operating funds. As our state?s budget situation becomes more challenging, the need to develop alternative and non-traditional local sources of funding becomes even more necessary.

Funding for transportation in a small urban community has always been a challenge and funding remains our top priority. In addition to the standard mix of federal and state operating assistance packages, Metro has long-standing funding agreements with participating municipalities. These funding agreements are based on route miles provided within each municipality.

Once route miles are established, the municipalities pay for the proportionate local cost for the services provided. Paratransit trips are calculated using community population estimates and trips provided. This formula provides the majority of the local match required for Metro?s daily service operations.

While traditional funding sources provide most of our local sources of non-federal funding, they do not provide all the monies necessary to operate our transit system. Metro has actively pursued ?niche? or specialty sources to complement our local sources of funding. Working with local educational institutions, aggressive advertising strategies and developing partnerships with area employers, Metro is working to develop more non-traditional sources of local funding.

Additionally, Metro has begun to contract with area schools and universities to offer prepaid discounted rides to students, faculty and staff. Metro?s ?U-Pass? is an example of such a partnership. Launched in July 2008, the U-Pass is a collaborative effort between the city of Green Bay and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB). The concept was to allow students, faculty and staff an option for commuting to and from classes and work. This partnership provides an easy, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional commuting. The U-Pass is paid for by student service fees and other funds provided by the university and requires no payment when accessing the fixed-route system. Based upon the initial success and acceptance of the program, Metro is looking to expand the program to other area institutions.

Metro has also expanded and enhanced its advertising efforts. In July 2007, Metro committed to a full-time staff position which, along with other duties, has provided a results-driven advertising program. Full-wrap buses provide a great marketing tool for area businesses, while providing an income stream for our operation. By selling available advertising space on the interior and exterior of our fleet, more advertising dollars are flowing into the transit system than have in the past.

Metro is currently exploring a program with a private enterprise to provide many much-needed passenger amenities throughout our services area. Due to the lack of capital funding in recent years, the number and quality of our shelters and benches have declined. Under the proposed program, Metro will contract with a private business to provide, install and maintain shelters along our routes. Rather than provide traditional shelter advertising, our vendor will solicit local businesses to sponsor, or ?adopt,? a bench or shelter. Each participating business will be given a generous and pleasing section of the shelter to advertise their business. This will allow our amenities to remain clutter free and help promote local ownership in the transit system. As a result, locally generated dollars will remain in the area and help to support our transit system.

Manager?s Forum goes to the front lines of the transit industry to get feedback on different topics relevant to passenger transportation ? and we want to hear from you! If you have an idea for discussion or would like to voice your opinion, please contact Leah Harnack at (262) 446-2816 or via email at