Jeramey Jannene
Urban Ideas

Make MCTS Free During DNC

Free bus rides could make the convention hassle-free for Milwaukeeans.

By - Feb 27th, 2020 11:00 am
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Bus. Photo courtesy of MCTS.

Bus. Photo courtesy of MCTS.

There’s no question that downtown Milwaukee will be congested for a week this summer as 50,000 people descend on the city for the Democratic National Convention. Thankfully, an unassuming government service could make life much easier for those heading to work, running errands or simply trying to cross town: the Milwaukee County Transit System.

Taking cars off the road and making commutes stress free could go a long way to making the convention a success for those that already live in Milwaukee. Milwaukee County officials could make MCTS rides, normally $2.25, free from July 11th through the 17th.

Instead of dealing with the hassle of trying to drive to work at the US Bank Center from the city’s west side and cross the entire security zone, regular drivers could be enticed to ride the bus, giving them time to read, send emails, play Candy Crush or stare out the window at the 4,000 police officers expected to guard the event. After the convention, they might find the service so useful they elect to keep riding.

The system’s downtown-centric route orientation makes it a no brainer to be a critical component in moving people during the biggest event Milwaukee’s ever hosted.

The actual cost to provide the free rides is affordable compared to the system’s $160 million 2020 operating budget. The average expected weekly farebox revenue is $591,754 for the system’s fixed route service. An amount that is smaller once monthly passes and other long-term fare revenue is filtered out and could be further reduced by applying the free rides to only the four days from July 13th through 16th that the convention is formally in session.

A presenting sponsor could be found to offset the lost revenue. The system’s approximately 350 buses could have their digital signage, including the highly-visible destination sign on the front of the bus, tout the sponsor. The city-run streetcar system has already landed a $100,000 sponsorship from We Energies during the convention.

What about Uber and Lyft? As anyone’s that ever experienced gridlock leaving Summerfest or other festivals can tell you, the services will likely not only be expensive, but likely quite slow. The only thing more stressful than driving might be finding yourself stuck in a backseat while the meter is running.

The system has plenty of experience providing free rides for short periods. Rides on New Years Eve and St. Patrick’s Day are regularly free thanks to Molson Coors’ “Miller Lite Free Rides” sponsorship.

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Categories: Urban Ideas

One thought on “Urban Ideas: Make MCTS Free During DNC”

  1. Mitchell Henke says:

    This is a fantastic idea!

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