Jeramey Jannene

The Hop Returns To Full Service

After months of mechanical, staffing issues a full return, with extended hours during Summerfest

By - Jun 21st, 2022 11:39 am
CityPost smart kiosk at the Burns Commons streetcar station. Photo taken April 3rd, 2021 by Dave Reid.

A streetcar at the Burns Commons station. Photo by Dave Reid.

The Hop is rolling once again.

The streetcar system returned to a full-service schedule Sunday. Since December, a series of mechanical and staffing issues beset the system with reduced hours and frequency.

The system, operated by private contractor Transdev, has not been run as planned for any full calendar month in 2022 for a variety of issues.

The Hop returns to operating from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, with service every 15 minutes during peak times and every 20 minutes in slower periods. On Saturday it operates with 20-minute headways from 5 a.m. to midnight. On Sunday it operates with 20-minute headways from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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.

Then in early April, a series of inoperable jacks in the streetcar maintenance facility caused a cascading series of issues that cut service frequency and hours. Three of the system’s five 40-ton vehicles needed routine wheel maintenance, but without the jacks the vehicles could not be repaired. The situation got dire enough that at various points only one vehicle was available, causing service to be available only once every 40 minutes.

Service is now being expanded.

There will be extended hours during the Summerfest music festival. Each night of the festival, which is split over three weekends in June and July, The Hop will remain in service until 1 a.m. The Historic Third Ward stations are the closest to the festival. An extension to the lakefront is expected to open in fall 2023 after years of delay.

The 2022 city budget calls for $4.6 million to be spent on operating the streetcar system. That expense will 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.

Those looking to avoid waiting for The Hop should download the TransLoc smartphone application that shows the real-time location of the vehicles.

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