Jeramey Jannene
Transportation

Streetcar Ridership Still On Track

As weather has improved, so has streetcar ridership, still higher than projected numbers.

By - May 29th, 2019 02:48 pm
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The Hop, Milwaukee's streetcar system, on N. Broadway. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Hop, Milwaukee’s streetcar system, on N. Broadway. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Hop remains on track.

The first phase of the city’s streetcar system is outpacing ridership expectations.

In April, the last month for which complete data is available, the system provided 1,852 rides per day. The city estimated 1,800 daily rides as part of the system’s 2011 environmental impact statement.

Through May 21st, the system has provided 1,927 rides per day in May.

The 2.1-mile system is currently free to ride as a result of three-year federal operating grant and a $10 million, 12-year sponsorship agreement with Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

Ridership on The Hop is tracked by automated passenger counters (APC) in each vehicle.

The APC system had a series of failures early in 2019 according to a March 15th press release. “We have not been able to recover missing data for much of February and early March, and consequently cannot provide accurate totals for either month,” said a system representative.

The release said falling ridership over that period was expected as a result of cold weather and comparing data with other cities. Ridership over November, December and January, the system’s first three months, was 2,105 rides per day.

In Kansas City, the most successful new system, ridership has far exceeded initial projections with 5,806 rides per day on the free system since its 2016 launch. In Cincinnati, where a new mayor was elected and attempted to shut down the system, ridership has lagged estimates and is in decline. The Cincinnati line is averaging just over 2,000 rides per day.

In Detroit, the Q-Line is seeing ridership growth after seeing a sharp drop when free rides ended.

The City of Milwaukee and private streetcar operator Transdev currently do not have the ability to charge for rides on The Hop and have not issued a request-for-proposals for farebox equipment, signaling that the free rides in Milwaukee could last until the system is extended.

City elected officials currently find themselves at odds over the ability to extend the streetcar to Walker’s Point, Bronzeville and the convention center. A lakefront extension is nearly complete and needs to open by the end of 2020 according to a federal grant, but city officials are waiting for construction on The Couture to start.

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More about the Milwaukee Streetcar

For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.

Categories: Transportation

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