Bus Rapid Transit Expected by 2021
9-mile line, $54 million project by Milwaukee County mostly funded by federal grant.
A nine-mile-long, bus rapid transit (BRT) line will likely be up and running in Milwaukee County by 2021.
Planners expect to finish design and engineering for the line by late fall to early winter of this year on the $54 million project. Construction is projected to begin in Spring 2020.
The line will run east to west from downtown Milwaukee along Wisconsin Ave. out to Wauwatosa, then along Bluemound Rd., eventually turning north at 95th St. and then west again once it connects with Watertown Plank Rd., where it will have a connection at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. More than 50 percent of the line will have a dedicated lane just for the BRT vehicles.
It is expected that the project will be financed mostly through a grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The project was included in the federal budget signed in March and has been assigned a project consultant by the FTA.
The cost to operate the line is equivalent to roughly 1 percent of MCTS’ annual budget. Meyers said, though, that the line should add efficiency to the entire system. The grant, if realized, will also supply funds for off-board fare boxes at bus stops.
The idea behind BRT is a high frequency line that provides shorter travel times and has connections to a number of the county’s heavily used bus lines. This sort of high frequency service is expected to induce gains in ridership. The corridor the BRT line will serve has a population of more than 69,000, many of whom need public transit: an estimated 21 percent of the households don’t own a car, 37 percent are minority and 23 percent live below the poverty level.
BRT is being implemented by cities all over the United States, and Milwaukee County Transit System officials have said Milwaukee is falling behind in this regard. “This project is a great opportunity to catch up to our peers,” Booth said.
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