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MADISON, Wis. - Madison Mayor Paul Soglin wants the city to consider moving bus traffic off of State Street.

He says that's one idea he's hoping is studied if the City Council passes a downtown study resolution at its meeting next Tuesday.

The study would look at the mix of entertainment and retail business in the downtown, making the area a historic district and potentially moving bus traffic off the street.

"I have always opposed moving buses off State Street, but when we look at the demands of the street, it is something I'm open to," Soglin said Friday.

Right now only buses, deliveries and emergency vehicles are allowed on the pedestrian mall.

Soglin says in the last few years, space considerations for bikes, mopeds and sidewalk cafes have the area cramped.

"To me the biggest issue is: Can we find a reasonable route for them if they're not to be on State Street? Or maybe we move them off a portion of State Street," Soglin said.  "But we've got so many demands down there that we have to do something."

Some business owners are skeptical of the idea and wonder if it is necessary.

"Not only should you not fix it if it's not broken, but you shouldn't fiddle and tinker with it if it's not broken," said co-owner of The Soap Opera, Chuck Bauer.

Bauer's business has been on the street since 1972 and says he isn't aware of any business that has asked for the change.

"The presence of buses has not deterred the arrival and thriving of sidewalk cafes," Bauer said.  "They developed and thrived and reproduced and grew all in the presence of buses.  Why suddenly do we now have an invented problem?"

Soglin says the city already detours buses for popular downtown events like the Farmers Market, Concerts on the Square, Maxwell Street Days and Freakfest. 

"It's going to be an interesting challenge," Soglin said.  "This is coming from someone who, for most of the last four decades, has opposed moving the buses off State Street.  But I think it is something we have to look at."

The City Council will formally consider the downtown study resolution at its meeting on Tuesday.

That study does not include a moratorium on liquor licenses, as Soglin originally proposed.  He says he may pursue that at a later time.
Soglin says city should consider removing buses from State Street

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