Bus Rapid Transit Meetings This Week
Help shape the future of Milwaukee -- and city transit -- with your feedback.
Milwaukee County is taking the “rapid” part of its bus rapid transit proposal quite literally. Two important public meetings are being held this week on potential alignment alternatives for the recently proposed system that would connect downtown Milwaukee with the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa. The first meeting is being held tonight, April 12th, at Miller Brewing Company Pavilion at O’Donnell Park starting at 5 p.m.
These two meetings give the public a chance to show on-the-record support, or opposition, to specific aspects of the project. The public will be able to comment on everything from station design and route selection to whether the dedicated lanes should be in the center of the street or on the outside. The project is designed to provide faster, higher-quality service between two of Milwaukee’s biggest job centers using special vehicles, stations and dedicated lanes (more on that below).
As required by the federal government, alternative routes are currently being studied for the proposed seven-mile long system. Public input from Wauwatosa residents has already caused the project team to drop a possible route along W. Wisconsin Ave. between N. Hawley Rd. and W. 89th St. Left in the study for that segment are two other options: one would run along W. Bluemound Rd. and the other along W. State St.
For those wishing to comment, but unable to make the meeting, comments can be submitted via email to email@example.com.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who first proposed the idea, hopes to fund the project with a Federal Transit Administration Small Starts grant. At one point project costs were estimated at between $46 million to $48 million, but the final cost is highly dependent on the route and configuration. Service would start in 2019 at the earliest, putting it into service at the same time the parallel portion of Interstate 94 is rebuilt.
The proposed bus rapid transit line would include sheltered stops spaced every one-quarter to one-half mile apart, with buses arriving an average of every ten minutes during peak travel times. For much of the route buses would operate in dedicated lanes. The “rapid” portion of the name comes not from speeding buses, but from fewer stops, dedicated lanes, signal priority at stop lights, off-bus fare purchases and sidewalk-level boarding.
The service is designed to offer many of the quality and convenience aspects of a light rail system at a much lower cost. A number of other communities have already implemented bus rapid transit lines, including Milwaukee peers Cleveland and Kansas City, both now operating successful systems.
- Tuesday, April 12th, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the O’Donnell Park Miller Room (910 E. Michigan St., Milwaukee)
- MCTS Routes 12, 14, 30/30X, 31 and 33 all get to within a few blocks of the meeting
- Thursday, April 14th, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Zoofari Conference Center (9715 W. Bluemound Road, Wauwatosa)
- MCTS GoldLine stops at the Zoo
The project team, led by AECOM, hopes to select a preferred route in June of this year. Following that a grant application would be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration in August. Service is intended to begin in 2019.
What About the Streetcar?
Some may be scratching their heads, wondering how this new system would interact with the streetcar and why Milwaukee would build both? The two are intended to work together according to proponents of both projects. The Milwaukee Streetcar starter system, for which utility relocation work is underway, is designed to circulate people around downtown Milwaukee and the surrounding neighborhoods. The bus rapid transit system would instead bring people to and from downtown, with less frequent stops and a different vehicle type. Riders may find themselves taking the new bus line to Downtown and transferring to the streetcar to get to their final destinations or vice-versa. Similarly, the emerging Bublr Bikes system is designed to work well with these other forms of transportation, allowing riders to easily hop a bike to go that “last mile” of their trip.
Past Coverage and Press Releases
- PR: Bus Rapid Transit Public Meetings This Week – April 11th, 2016 – MCTS
- New Website Highlights Bus Rapid Transit Study and Project – March 29th, 2016 – MCTS
- County Plans for Bus Rapid Transit – January 16th, 2016 – Matthew Wisla
- Transit Expansion Urged – June 25th, 2015 – Michael Horne
- PR: Milwaukee County to Lead Development of Bus Rapid Transit Service – June 2nd, 2015 Chris Abele
More about the East-West BRT Line
- East-West Bus Rapid Transit Project Receives Milestone Federal Approval - Milwaukee County Transit System - Nov 30th, 2018
- MCTS Submits Updated Application for Bus Rapid Transit Funding - Milwaukee County Transit System - Sep 8th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Approves BRT Route Restrictions - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 1st, 2017
- Council approves amended bus rapid transit resolution - Ald. Michael Murphy - Jul 31st, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Fighting County on Rapid Transit - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 19th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Give Your Input on BRT Project - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 7th, 2017
- Plenty of Horne: $2 Million BRT Study Underway - Michael Horne - Feb 6th, 2017
- Quito’s BRT, a Model for Milwaukee? - Ken Smith - Nov 14th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Approves Bus Rapid Transit - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 26th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Panel Approves Bus Rapid Transit - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 13th, 2016
- Murphy’s Law: Does Anyone Oppose Bus Rapid Transit? - Bruce Murphy - Jun 7th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Bus Rapid Transit Meetings This Week - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 12th, 2016
- County Plans for Bus Rapid Transit - Matthew Wisla - Jan 16th, 2016