Graham Kilmer

Joblines Bus Will End After August

Funding for bus to Waukesha County jobs ending and Waukesha doesn't seem to care.

By - May 22nd, 2019 03:24 pm
A Joblines bus. Photo from MCTS.

A Joblines bus. Photo from MCTS.

Route 57, referred to as a jobline, is running out of funding and by the end of August the buses will stop rolling.

The joblines are bus routes that bring county residents to jobs in Waukesha County. During budgeting process for 2019 it looked as though Milwaukee County would have to shutter the service. But a last-minute amendment saved the line through most of 2019, and bought the county time to look for new revenue for it.

More than half a million in transportation aid revenue was shifted to cover route 57 with the budget amendment. But that money is running out. Dan Boehm, director of MCTS, recently went before the committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee and said route 57 into Waukesha County would be discontinued at the end of August.

The joblines were started thanks to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) and the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin. In 2014 these groups won a $13 million settlement after arguing the state ignored disadvantaged residents in Milwaukee’s central city during the planning for the Zoo Interchange. That $13 million was used to fund the joblines until the money ran out in 2019.

Between the budgeting process in the fall of 2018 and now, MCTS explored a cost-sharing agreement with Waukesha County to fund the service. That exploration never made it past an exploratory conversation, according to officials from MCTS and Waukesha County.

Hundreds of Milwaukeeans use the bus service to access jobs in Waukesha. But it’s still not enough to justify any spending by Waukesha County, said Brian Engelking, transit manager for Waukesha Metro. The number of passengers per revenue hour for the line isn’t even half what Waukesha County’s standard is: 10 passengers per revenue hour.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Decker previously told Urban Milwaukee the joblines don’t have much support in Waukesha County, even at a time when many businesses in the region say they are having trouble finding workers.“Employers from that area have not approached us overwhelmingly to say we need it,” Decker said. 

Which means hundreds of mostly city residents using the bus to connect to Waukesha County jobs could be looking for new work in August, or sooner. In addition, some high schoolers could be looking for new schools. Menomonee Falls School district allows enrollment for some Milwaukee students, some of whom rely on route 57 to get to school every day.

Theoretically, Milwaukee County has a little over two months to find funding. But MCTS has informed the county board it is starting to plan the new schedule without the jobline.

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4 thoughts on “Transportation: Joblines Bus Will End After August”

  1. TransitRider says:

    Is all of Route 57 on the chopping block or just the part in Waukesha County? The part of Route 57 south of Center St (Walnut and Lisbon) goes back decades and was one of the last routes to operate 24/7 (in the early 1970s).

  2. Phyllis Wax says:

    Why am I not surprised that Waukesha County doesn’t want Milwaukee bus riders coming there–even when they need employees?

    Milwaukee County should keep this route going!

  3. Lee Bitts says:

    So where’s the money supposed to come from to support the transit company when its primary customers are poor, don’t have driver’s licenses, and can’t afford cars?

  4. dlee1998 says:

    Only the Waukesha extension is on the chopping block. #57 is part of the future MCTS NEXT route reconfigurations, (map,
    #57 started as a feeder bus in 1925 for the #17 Wisconsin-Lisbon car line, when it replaced the lightly traveled Wanderers Rest branch (Lisbon-Appleton from Sherman & Lloyd (main branch) to Burleigh, Sunday was the busiest day with Wanderers Rest and Holy Cross cemetery visits on the semi-rural branch). Eventually, #57 replaced rest of the #17 in 1947, when the latter became the #17 Wisconsin-State car before being replaced by the #71 State bus in 1950.

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