Jeramey Jannene

Maintenance Issues Reduce The Hop’s Schedule

Second time this year the streetcar system will operate with reduced schedule.

By - Apr 4th, 2022 04:24 pm
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.

Milwaukee’s streetcar system will be operating on a reduced schedule starting Wednesday because of maintenance issues with two of the vehicles and the equipment used to service them.

Two of The Hop’s five vehicles currently need “routine wheel maintenance,” but some of the equipment needed to perform that work is out of service. According to a spokesperson, vehicle jacks used to lift the 40-ton streetcars are not working.

“While we don’t anticipate this being a long-term issue, we will be moving to a temporary schedule beginning Wednesday that will allow us to continue meeting current ridership demands while properly maintaining the three in-service vehicles. We look forward to returning to our regular schedule as quickly as possible,” said the spokesperson via email. The steel wheels on the vehicles need regular maintenance to ensure they roll smoothly and quietly.

The system will operate on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., reduced from 5 a.m. to midnight. On weekends it will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., reduced from 7 a.m. to midnight.

And during hours it is operating, the system will operate less frequently, with 20-minute headways (one vehicle passes a station every 20 minutes). The system currently operates with 15-minute headways on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.; this is done by adding a third vehicle to what is normally a two-vehicle operation.

It’s the second time this year that The Hop has operated with reduced frequency. The system operated with only 20-minute headways from Dec. 27 to March 7 because of “the impact of COVID-19” on the system staff.

The Hop is operated by private contractor Transdev on behalf of the City of Milwaukee. The city-owned operations and maintenance facility is located at 450 N. 5th St. underneath Interstate 794.

The 40-ton, 66-foot-long streetcar vehicles, made by Pennsylvania-based Brookville Equipment Corp., were delivered in 2018. The vehicles are expected to last 30 years. The city purchased the fifth vehicle in anticipation of the lakefront line extension, but that extension has been repeatedly delayed because it requires the base of The Couture tower to be finished. The high-rise building is now slated for a fall 2023 opening.

The 2022 city budget calls for $4.6 million to be spent on operating the streetcar system. That expense is to be offset by $1.44 million in direct revenue, with the remainder coming from the city’s parking revenue. Direct revenue sources include Potawatomi Hotel & Casino ($833,333), other sponsors and a federal grant ($214,000). Transdev’s contract includes a provision for payment based on service hours provided, so a reduction in service would save the city money.

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson has endorsed expanding the system while campaigning for mayor. His opponent Robert Donovan has been a long-standing critic of the system.

More about the Milwaukee Streetcar

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

Read more about Milwaukee Streetcar here

Categories: Transportation, Weekly

3 thoughts on “Transportation: Maintenance Issues Reduce The Hop’s Schedule”

  1. Kevin Germino says:

    Why are they running a 2 vehicle schedule _and_ cutting service hours to perform overnight maintenance?

    I understand one or the other, but keeping a spare vehicle in the garage all day and cutting service hours seems excessive.

  2. Ryan Cotic says:

    So in the end this trolly pushed by Barrett appears to be a financial anchor for the city of Milwaukee. Thanks barret

  3. TransitRider says:

    This makes no sense. Reducing hours won’t help them fix their jack any sooner. And since they still have 3 operational vehicles, there’s no reason they can’t put all 3 on the road. Headways shouldn’t take a hit unless/until one of the 3 remaining vehicles also runs into trouble.

    Does anybody know how they switch drivers? When a driver’s shift ends, does he drive his vehicle into the garage while the new driver drives another from the garage, OR does the new guy just walk up to the streetcar while it lays over on 4th Street?

    If switching drivers means a new vehicle goes out, that that could be why they don’t want to use 3 vehicles at once. (But if that’s the case, it sounds like bad management on Transdev’s part.)

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