Graham Kilmer

First 4 Months of BRT Rides Will be Free

Umo Mobility will sponsor free rides from June 4 to September 30.

By - May 9th, 2023 04:34 pm

MCTS Battery Electric Bus. Photo Courtesy of MCTS.

The new East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line will be free to all riders for nearly the first four months of operation.

The new service, called Connect 1, launches on June 4, and will be free through Sept. 30 thanks to a sponsorship agreement with Umo Mobility, which is the transit technology platform that MCTS has contracted with for its new WisGo fare system.

“We wanted to make it easy to try the new BRT service and introduce riders to the many benefits of WisGo,” said Bonnie Crawford, general manager of Umo Mobility, in a statement, “and the summer sponsorship was the perfect way to do both.”

In a statement, the transit system said the free fares should encourage riders to try the new BRT system, which is the first of its kind in Milwaukee County and the state.

The nine-mile BRT will run between downtown Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa. The new service is designed to provide faster, more efficient travel through this corridor, using, among other things, dedicated bus lanes along roughly half of the route. The service will also use Battery Electric Buses, bus station platforms allowing level boarding, traffic signal priority and off-bus fare collection.

In March, City of Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly announced that Waukesha Metro would also be joining WisGo, the new fare system implemented by MCTS. “MCTS and Umo services are aligned to grow regional connectivity,” said Denise Wandke, MCTS President and Interim Managing Director, adding that beyond Waukesha, “other regional transit agencies are considering it.”

The new East-West BRT will connect to Waukesha Metro Route 1, which will operate between the regional medical center and Brookfield Square, 95 N. Moorland Rd.

“This sponsorship not only benefits our riders,” said Denise Wandke, MCTS President and Interim Managing Director, “but it also introduces the benefits of regional mobility to other transit agency riders across the state.”

Since the launch of the new mobile app for the WisGo fare system, MCTS has seen approximately 85,000 downloads of its new mobile app created for the WisGo fare system, said Tim Hosch, MCTS chief financial officer, adding that the system expects downloads to double by the end of the year.

The transit system will provide a Summerfest shuttle service for the first time in three years, but in a diminished capacity. It’s promoting the new BRT as a transit service that can get people to and from Summerfest. The most eastern stop on the route is at the intersection of N. Van Buren and E. Wisconsin Ave., which is approximately three blocks from Lincoln Memorial Drive and a short walk to Henry Maier Festival Park.

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