Better Bus Service on the Way

Great news for Milwaukee bus riders: the Milwaukee County Transit System has announced a set of improvements to bus service set to take effect Sunday March 12, 2017.

Routes with service changes:

6 · New Berlin Industrial Park Express

What’s changing:

  • Added trips between Brookfield Square and BuySeasons on weekdays.

The routes 6 and 61 were created as a result of a historic lawsuit filed by Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) and the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin over the exclusion of transit in plans for the Zoo Interchange reconstruction project. The routes, known as JobLines, are designed to connect the central city with jobs in the suburbs.

Employers located along the route include FedEx, BuySeasons, Shoeneck Containers,

27/PurpleLine · 27th Street

What’s changing:

  • The limited service segment on the 27 and PurpleLine between Hampton and Florist is a now full service part of both routes. Riders on 27th will now be able to reliably connect with the Glendale Industrial Park, Bayshore Town Center and Route 63 Silver Spring-Port Washington.
  • The PurpleLine will be extended south to Northwestern Mutual in Franklin (27th/Drexel) Monday-Friday 7:00am-6:00pm. The PurpleLine will be extended south to 27th/Riverwood (near Rawson) at all other times.
  • The Route 27 will continue to go to Walmart at 27th/Sycamore.

64 · South 60th Street

What’s changing:

  • Later service 7 days a week. Route 64 currently ends service at 6:00pm; it will now run until approximately 11:00pm Monday through Saturday and until 10:00pm on Sundays/Holidays.
  • Bus service 7 days a week on Hawley Road; the 64 currently only runs between Southridge and 60th/Greenfield on weekends and holidays.

51 · Oklahoma Avenue

What’s changing: The extension to Packard/Howard is being eliminated to fund the extension of the 27/PurpleLine. Route 51 will now end at Oklahoma/New York (Delaware). The extension was not widely known and not well ridden. The area is still accessible on a limited basis from Route 48 South Shore Flyer. More info here.


The Milwaukee County Transit System deserves praise for implementing a comprehensive set of service improvements while in a tough financial situation.

Significant downtown bus route changes coming

This fall, the Downtown Transit Center will close for demolition to make way for the Couture high-rise luxury apartment tower. The prime lakefront location at the southwest corner of the Lincoln Memorial/Michigan intersection is being sold to private developers for a bargain price of $500,000.

What does this all mean for bus riders? Several downtown bus routes are proposed to change.

Affected routes: 12, 31, 33, 42U, 44, 79, 90 & 137.

Under this plan, the popular Route 12 will no longer travel on Wisconsin east of 6th and the #31 will turn around at 10th/Wisconsin.

The Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee of the Milwaukee County Board will be considering the plan at their July 13, 2016 meeting.

One of the goals of this rerouting plan is to move service off of Wisconsin Avenue and onto neighboring streets, according to a Milwaukee Business Journal interview with MCTS Spokesman Brendan Conway. Downtown businesses along Wisconsin Avenue have requested less bus service on the avenue, while businesses elsewhere have requested more service.

Over the years many routes have been moved out of the Downtown Transit Center; south side flyers were moved out of it during the Marquette Interchange project, the #23 was moved out of it in 2012 when the route was changed to run on National and the #14 was moved out of the center when it was changed to run north to Bayshore in 2014. Some routes serving the center have been eliminated altogether, such as the 47 (S. 27th St. Flyer), 39 (Timmerman Flyer) and 45 (Watertown Plank-Capitol Flyer). Today the Center is mostly empty and mostly serves as a layover and break area for drivers.

Wauwatosa approves Bus Rapid Transit

The Wauwatosa City Council approved the Wauwatosa segment of the bus rapid transit line between Downtown Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and Milwaukee County Research Park by a 10-5 vote at its meeting Tuesday.

The approval by Wauwatosa brings the bus rapid transit project one step closer to being constructed. The bus rapid transit line can reduce the travel time by as much as 16 minutes and offer technological, safety and quality of life improvements over the current service provided along Wisconsin Avenue and Bluemound Road.

The City of Milwaukee Common Council and Milwaukee County Board will be voting on the proposal next. We will publish updates as they become available.

Bus rapid transit taking shape

Milwaukee is one step closer to having its first Bus Rapid Transit line after officials decided on the western half of the route.

Minor changes could still be made to the location of the routes and stops, but the western segment of the route is set for the most part. Originally there were three alternatives; the route could have traveled along Wisconsin Avenue, Bluemound Road or State Street. In the end, a route along Wisconsin Avenue/Hawley Road/Bluemound Road was chosen.

Next steps include deciding what shape the downtown segment of the route will take in downtown: whether the BRT line will run on Wisconsin Avenue, Wells Street or a mix of both.

City will pay to relocate utilities for streetcar

Streetcar rendering: 4th/St. Paul

The City of Milwaukee will have to foot the bill for moving utility lines along the initial route of the Milwaukee streetcar under a decision issued by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William Sosnay last Thursday.

The decision was the result of a court case brought by the city to challenge a decision from the state Public Service Commission that placed the costs onto the city. The city disputed the ruling and wanted the courts to make the final decision.

The decision means that the City will have to pay between $10-25 million to move utility lines when building the streetcar. The project is expected to cost a total of $128.1 million.

What does this mean for the streetcar?

The city will continue building the downtown streetcar route; according to a spokesperson for the mayor the decision was expected and the project remains on time and on budget. What remains to be seen is whether the additional costs of relocating utilities will prevent the streetcar from being expanded into the neighborhoods. MTRU advocates for a streetcar along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive between downtown and Five Points (Atkinson/Keefe) to serve the King Drive shopping district; connect downtown bus riders with crosstown bus routes like the #21, #22 & #60 and relieve chronic overcrowding on the #19 bus route north of downtown.

Strike Update: no bus service Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

A meeting today between the Milwaukee County Transit System and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 to come up with a last-ditch compromise Tuesday was unsuccessful. A transit strike will now happen in Milwaukee.

What bus riders should know

  • MCTS and ATU Local 998 have both confirmed that buses will operate until 3:00am Wednesday morning. Drivers will continue to operate all trips scheduled for today until the end of scheduled service.
  • This is not an open-ended strike; it is a 72-hour work-stoppage. Drivers will return to work on Saturday.
  • All MCTS routes will be affected, including Waukesha and Ozaukee County routes.

Alternatives

Milwaukee bus drivers strike looming

Yesterday, members of the union that represents drivers for the transit system voted overwhelmingly against a contract proposal, with 93% voting against it and 92% voting to strike. Bus drivers have been working without a contract for three months.

Bus service will continue to operate Tuesday, but if an agreement is not reached bus service will stop at 3:00am Wednesday.

There is still a chance that a strike can be avoided. Union leaders and management will be meeting today to see if a compromise can be made. Hopefully an agreement can be reached and a strike will be avoided.

The key sticking points:

  • A sudden increase in part-time drivers. Currently, there are no part-time drivers; under the contract the bus system could hire part-time drivers and up to 15% of bus drivers being part time. Such a high amount at once has the union concerned that the bus system wants to make most drivers part-time.
  • Bathroom breaks. Bus drivers typically only get 4 minutes at the end of a route for a bathroom break and layovers are usually not in areas with restrooms nearby.
  • Health insurance. Bus drivers will pay more for their health insurance coverage.
  • Pensions. The union is concerned that hiring part-time drivers while cutting the contribution amount paid by bus drivers could undermine the pension fund.

MCTS management on the other hand, says that it is offering an 8% raise to bus drivers and that the number of part-time drivers is small compared to other systems.

We are hopeful that a last-minute agreement can be reached between labor and management, but bus riders should make backup plans now for if a strike does happen.

If an agreement is not reached Tuesday service will operate until the end of the schedule, but there will be no bus service systemwide beginning Wednesday.

Changes to bus routes affecting MTRU meetings

On January 18, 2015 the Milwaukee County Transit System made changes to bus service on the east side. These changes will affect travel to and from Milwaukee Transit Riders Union meetings at the Milwaukee Environmental Consortium (MEC).

LIST OF NEARBY BUS ROUTES AND STOPS EFFECTIVE JANUARY 18, 2015:

Route Nearest stop(s) to MEC
30 Sherman-Wisconsin ·         Farwell/Kane·         Prospect/Kane
30X Sherman Express ·         Farwell/Kane
Gold Line Wisconsin-UWM ·         Farwell/Brady·         Prospect/Brady
Green Line Bayshore-Airport
(Oakland-Howell)
·         Oakland/Kane
14 Humboldt-Forest Home* ·         Humboldt/Brady
21 North Avenue* ·         Oakland/North·         Farwell/North

 

DIRECTIONS

From the south

  • Green Line will take you from Downtown, Walkers Point, Bay View, Tippecanoe and Mitchell International Airport

From the west

From the north

From the southwest

  • 14 Humboldt-Forest Home* will take you from Downtown, Clarke Square, the Near South Side, the Southwest Side, Greenfield and Greendale.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ROUTE CHANGES, VISIT THE OFFICIAL MILWAUKEE COUNTY TRANSIT SYSTEM WEBSITE AT WWW.RIDEMCTS.COM

* = Route does not go directly to MEC. (Within walking distance.)

Changes coming to Milwaukee transit next week

Do you ride the Routes 10, 14 and 30? Change is in store for you beginning this weekend.

Route 10
MCTS will be replacing Route 10 with a new Gold Line Express. The Gold Line express will follow the current routing of the #10 west of downtown and follow the current routing of the #30 Downer north of Downtown.

The new route is supposed to make jobs in Waukesha more accessible to central city residents by speeding up travel times.

The current Route 10 service to Bayshore will be transferred to Route 14, which will be the 14 Humboldt-Forest Home.

Route 30
MCTS will be significantly changing the Route 30. From now on, there will be no branches on Route 30; all #30 buses on the west side will travel on Sherman to Florist and all #30 buses on the east side will travel on Maryland to Downer.

East Side
The bus service on Downer will be replaced by the Gold Line. Route 21 will also continue to travel on Downer on Weekdays between September and June.

West Side
The bus service on Keefe will be replaced by a new Route 61 Appleton-Keefe. More on that below.

Express
The 30X is back, after being eliminated about a decade ago, and it is better than ever. It will run seven days a week. To find out exactly when it will run, check out the #30 schedule.

Route 61
One of the most significant changes is that central city is now connected to Menomonee Falls and Germantown by a new bus route, the #61 Appleton-Keefe. The route is the latest new route from a settlement between WisDOT and MICAH & Black Health Coalition.

The new route will travel from 35th/Toronto (between Capitol and Hopkins) to the Germantown Walmart. An extension to the Germantown Industrial Park will operate to the park in the morning and from the park in the afternoon on weekdays, with one late-night round trip.

This is good news for unemployed central city residents in poverty and advocates for fairness throughout the Milwaukee area.

Voter ID Update: Blocked by SCOTUS

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Voter ID law.

As of 10/8/14 you will not need to show an ID in order to vote in November.

The ruling comes as a result of legal challenges to the law. The law is expected to make it harder for people to vote and decrease turnout. A study by the federal government found that Voter ID laws decrease minority turnout in elections.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court order is not a final decision on the law, but any other action on the voter ID law isn’t expected until after the November election.