Graham Kilmer

No MCTS Brewers Bus Line in 2022

Service canceled due to driver shortage.

By - Apr 22nd, 2022 01:59 pm
Go Brewers. Photo courtesy of MCTS.

Go Brewers. Photo courtesy of MCTS.

Baseball is back at American Family Field. The Milwaukee Brewers held their 2022 home opener last week.

But if you plan to go to a game this season, don’t expect to be able to take an easy ride on public transit to get there.

The Brewers Line (formerly Route 90) is no longer in service. This service was canceled at the start of the pandemic, and it’s not coming back because of the transit system’s ongoing struggle with staffing.

MCTS is unable to provide special seasonal service due to the staffing shortage,” said a spokesperson. The system had previously run a special route from downtown to the ballpark on game days.

There are, however, two routes that riders can catch that will drop them off within walking distance of the stadium: the Gold Line and Route 18.

The Gold Line runs along Wisconsin Avenue and W. Bluemound Rd. between Brookfield Square and downtown Milwaukee and ultimately connects with UW-Milwaukee.

Route 18 runs along National Ave. and W. Greenfield Ave. between Walker’s Point and Greenfield Park in West Allis and has a northern leg into downtown Milwaukee.

There are still plenty of private bar shuttles that run to the ballpark as well.

MCTS has struggled to maintain an adequate level of staffing to run the transit system at the capacity it is budgeted to provide. A fully-staffed system would have at least 760 bus operators. It currently has 702 operators, six fewer operators than the system had at the beginning of March.

As a result its freeway flyer service is suspended indefinitely and it is not offering its festival routes.

The transit system reports hiring 49 new operators in 2022, but its staffing level is still down from the 716 operator roster it started the year with. The system hired more than 130 bus operators in 2021.

In June 2021, the problems of understaffing came into focus when the transit system announced it would not provide a shuttle service for Summerfest. By the end of the year, the transit system had missed more than 7,000 scheduled service hours because there weren’t enough drivers.

It’s both a large number for people stuck waiting for a stop and also a small fraction of the system’s total service hours; only accounting for approximately 0.56% of service.

This year is shaping up to be roughly the same. So far, the transit system has missed 0.37% of service hours, or approximately 1,401.

The high rate of turnover has changed the idea of what a job at MCTS means for someone’s life. “At some point it became a job and not a career,” said Donnell Shorter, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 in 2021. 

MCTS is working to improve operator hiring with sign-on bonuses,  increased pay for new and more funding for marketing positions. But retention will be the key to stabilizing staffing in the transit system.

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One thought on “Transportation: No MCTS Brewers Bus Line in 2022”

  1. Ed Werstein says:

    This will make it more difficult for many concession workers at the stadium and the festival grounds to get to work.

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