Streetcar Ridership Up in December
System outpaces November ridership and annual estimates.
The Hop ridership got back on track in December, exceeding ridership estimates and beating November’s total.
The 2.1-mile system provided 1,977 rides per day in December, a 210-rides-per-day increase over November.
Ridership was down 19.5 percent compared to December 2018 (2,456 rides per day), the system’s first full month of operation. But that drop is still an improvement over the 28 percent drop seen in November year-over-year ridership.
Christmas Day (818 rides) was the slowest day of the month. The busiest day of the month was Friday, December 27th with 3,446 rides.
Ridership is tabulated by automatic passenger counters embedded in the doors of the vehicles. Daily ridership data is available on the system website.
Upcoming months will provide better insight into the system’s cold weather ridership. The automatic passenger counting system failed in at least one of the vehicles during February 2019 yielding incomplete data. And January, which featured a prolonged cold stretch that closed a number of schools and businesses, recorded only 1,560 daily rides.
The Hop is free to ride as a result of a three-year federal operating grant and a $10 million, 12-year sponsorship agreement with Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. An additional $90,000 was contributed by business network services provider Everstream, with a holiday-themed, Everstream-branded streetcar operating on the route during the promotion.
The city’s 2020 budget includes $4.65 million for streetcar operations, including the lakefront line extension, with funding coming from a federal operating grant ($3.5 million), Potawatomi ($781,000) and advertising ($368,000).
A three-mile expansion plan remains on hold by the Milwaukee Common Council. A previously approved expansion to the lakefront, scheduled to open in 2020, faces uncertainty now that The Couture apartment tower, through which it was supposed to run, has not broken ground.
Fare equipment, for which $400,000 remains set aside from the project’s $128 million capital budget, has not been purchased. As part of the deal to bring the Democratic National Convention to Milwaukee, the system must be free while the convention is in town.
A procurement process is ongoing for a kiosk system with real-time arrival data and advertising at each station. City officials estimated that revenue from the kiosks would allow the system to continue offering rides for free.
While the ridership is back on track, one of the vehicles was temporarily not. Streetcar service was temporarily suspended Monday evening to deal with a derailment.
“At approximately 4:30 p.m. Monday, a southbound streetcar went partially off the track on Broadway at St. Paul Ave. at the switch while attempting to reroute to eastbound St. Paul Ave. to avoid an automobile blocking the guideway on westbound St. Paul Ave. While reversing the streetcar to return the streetcar to the tracks, the contact wire got hooked under the pantograph. Service was interrupted while a crew de-energized the wires, deployed a bucket truck to safely access the point of contact, and ultimately returned the vehicle back on the track. All passengers had been safely deboarded. Service resumed shortly after 7 p.m. The operating procedures are currently being evaluated and any corrections will be made before rerouting at this location again,” said the Department of Public Works in a statement.
It was the second derailment the system has experienced. A July derailment caused a 40 minute delay when a vehicle derailed at a switch near N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. and W. St. Paul Ave.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.
For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
- Transportation: First Streetcar Smart Kiosks Installed - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 3rd, 2021
- Plats and Parcels: Lakefront Streetcar Extension Scheduled for June 2022 Opening - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 6th, 2020
- Transportation: Should Milwaukee Stop The Hop? - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 13th, 2020
- Transportation: The Hop Now Wears a Mask - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 18th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Is A Couture Deal Finally Coming? - Jeramey Jannene - May 13th, 2020
- Transportation: SUV Driver Runs Into The Hop - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 28th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Kiosks Could Bring In $500,000 Annually - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 20th, 2020
- Thanks A Million, Hop Riders! - The Hop - Feb 19th, 2020
- Transportation: We Energies Will Sponsor Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Ridership Up in January Versus 2019 - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 7th, 2020
Read more about Milwaukee Streetcar here