Goodbye to MCTS Free Ride
County begins charging for controversial GO Pass program in June.
Big changes are coming to the Milwaukee County Transit System on June 26th. The controversial GO Pass program that provides a free bus pass to senior citizens and the disabled will no longer be free. The program, which has cost millions more than expected, has provided over 13.5 million rides to-date.
The program will still provide a substantially discounted ticket to those that need it. Those who qualify for the program under a new means test will be able to use their card to purchase a day pass for $1 at any MCTS fare outlet or on-board the bus.
Approximately 11,000 of the 26,000 current GO Pass holders will have their passes deactivated on June 12th because they failed an initial means test. To be eligible for the program, those over 65 must be receiving Medicaid or FoodShare. Those under 65 must either receive Social Security or have a Veterans Disability designation and receive Medicaid or FoodShare benefits.
MCTS has applied the new threshold since January 17th to new applicants and has charged a $5 card issuance fee since January 3rd. MCTS reports that 497 individuals have been issued passes since the means test was instituted.
As part of the overhaul, beginning June 26th MCTS will transfer administration of the program, including issuance of new cards, to the Milwaukee County Aging and Disability Resource Centers at 1220 W. Vliet St.
Though relatively new, the program has already cost millions more than anticipated. In late 2014 the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors ignored warnings from MCTS director Dan Boehm and the Milwaukee County Commission on Aging when they created the Growing Opportunities (GO) Pass program with a hastily budgeted figure of $822,600. Those warnings proved prescient when in November 2015, Milwaukee County Comptroller Scott Manske issued a report showing the program was going to cost an additional $1.8 million through the end of 2015 for a total cost of $2.6 million. The 2016 budget, which was approved prior to the comptroller’s November 2015 memo, included a budgeted cost of $3.2 million for the program.
The June fix, part of 2017 budget, is expected to reduce the cost of the program by an estimated $1.1 million this year.
The Milwaukee County Transit System has a $160.5 million budget for 2017, down $2.6 million from 2016 and almost $5 million from 2015.
More about the GO Pass Program
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Goodbye to MCTS Free Ride - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 26th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Milwaukee County Fixes GO Pass - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 29th, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: How to Destroy a Transit System - Bruce Murphy - May 24th, 2016
- Eyes On Milwaukee: Is Free Pass Bleeding County Transit? - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 2nd, 2016
- County Free Bus-Ride Program Faces Shortfall - Graham Kilmer - Sep 28th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Another Bad Transit Plan By County Board - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 6th, 2014