Milwaukee County Transit System

Ann-Elise Henzl Reporter Milwaukee Public Radio

Hundreds of Milwaukeeans ride the bus every day to jobs in Waukesha County. But the funding that helps pay for the routes will dry up in a couple of years. So leaders are spreading the word about the routes' successes in hopes the service will continue -- and even grow.

Milwaukee leaders often call for businesses to create more jobs in the central city. Yet until that dream comes to fruition, hundreds of residents are finding work miles from home and using Milwaukee County buses to get there.

Milwaukee County Transit System

There's talk of creating a new transit option in Milwaukee - buses that could rapidly move people between downtown and the regional medical center in Wauwatosa.

The proposal is known as BRT, or Bus Rapid Transit. Tuesday evening from 5 to 7 pm at O’Donnell Park, the public is invited to view the plan and comment.

Sebastian Joseph / Flickr

Starting February 29, Milwaukee County Transit System passengers will no longer be able to purchase paper tickets. From then on, bus rides can only be bought with cash or M-Cards, reloadable electronic smart cards.

M-Cards have been available for sometime, but now Milwaukee is following the lead of other cities across the country in eliminating paper tickets. According to MCTS spokesman Brendon Conway, M-Cards will make life easier for riders and the transit system alike.   

bus
Michelle Maternowski

Opponents of the downtown Milwaukee streetcar project said they're launching a petition drive to block any potential expansion of the project. That word came after a previous drive fell short of its goal, amid questions over whether it would have carried any legal weight.

Even with plans for the first phase of the streetcar moving forward, many supporters say the project really only represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing the challenges of transit in the Milwaukee area.

Michelle Maternowski

The free bus service on July 6 is meant to thank regular riders for their adaptability during the three-day strike, according to County Executive Chris Abele.

Union drivers walked off the job early Wednesday, after they and the Milwaukee County Transit System failed to reach a new contract agreement. The union says its drivers plan to return to the job early Saturday morning, even though they don't yet have a new contract.

While the Milwaukee County Transit System and its union bus drivers remain at a budget stalemate, several organizations are offering residents options for travel, including to Summerfest and the July 3 lakefront fireworks.

In addition, at least one church is helping organize carpools, especially for people who need to reach grocery stores and medical appointments.

Marge Pitrof

Tens of thousands of people found themselves stranded on Wednesday after Milwaukee County bus drivers walked off the job. The union, which represents 750 bus drivers and mechanics, went on strike at 3 a.m. after eleventh-hour negotiations failed on Tuesday.

bus
Michelle Maternowski

It appears all-day federal mediation on Tuesday failed to break the contract impasse between union bus drivers and the Milwaukee County Transit System. So the drivers plan to walk off the job at three o'clock Wednesday morning, after buses transport thousands of people who ride to Summerfest.

On Monday, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 rejected the latest contract offer from the transit system. Union leaders say members particularly oppose the system's desire to hire part-time drivers.

MCTS

Thousands of people who ride Milwaukee County Transit System buses could soon find themselves stranded, if bus drivers walk off the job.

MCTS

On May 1st, the Milwaukee County Transit System began visiting senior and community centers so more people could apply for a GO Pass.

The program launched March 31, 2015 and allows all Milwaukee County residents over age 64, and residents with disabilities as defined by the Federal Transit Administration, to ride the bus for free.

d76/Flickr

There are a couple upcoming changes in the Milwaukee County Transit System. This week, seniors and people with disabilities can get free passes. Next week, some riders will face a new charge.

If you pay cash to ride the county bus, you pay $4.50 for a round trip. Right now, county residents who are 65 or older and people with disabilities pay half the regular fare.

But even that’s unaffordable for many, according to Milwaukee County Board Chairperson Marina Dimitrijevic.

d76/Flickr

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is expected next week to consider final approval of a program that would provide free bus rides to an estimated 30,000 disabled and senior riders a year on Milwaukee County Transit.

If it’s approved, the GO Pass program would go into effect at the beginning of April. The County’s Transportation director, however, has recommended a three-month delay in implementing the program to allow for broader distribution of passes.

flickr, Milwaukee County Transit

The Milwaukee County Transit System has made changes to routes and technology in recent years, but questions about its stability remain. 

The Milwaukee County Board voted unanimously on Thursday to spend $1,300 transporting people who must visit a DMV office to apply for a state ID.

Essay: The Zen on a City Bus

Aug 1, 2014
flickr, Milwaukee County Transit

Although I take public transportation all the time when I’m in New York, I hadn't been on a Milwaukee bus since I got my driver's license at 16.  But half a century later, I’m old enough to get a discounted fare again, so when work took me downtown on a regular basis last winter, I decided to bury my old prejudices and take the bus. 

That was when I discovered the zen of riding the bus. 

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