Update on COVID-19 | View Alert

Please note that: MCTS continues to limit riders to 10 per bus, fare collection and front door boarding has resumed, riders are strongly encouraged to wear masks while on board, and the MCTS Administration Building is closed to visitors. Read more here.

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our customers and employees. That’s why the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) is constantly in contact with local, state, and federal officials in regards to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Check this page often for updates.

To our Passengers:

Please respect the important work our employees are doing and support them during this challenging time. Wash hands, practice social distancing, consider wearing a mask, and please be considerate of our bus drivers and the essential work they do every day for our community.

 

The Latest:

  • Buses that run Mondays-Fridays are using a regular weekday schedule (with the exception of Freeway Flyers, UBuses, and school trips). Weekend schedules remain unchanged.
  • MCTS has resumed fare collection and front door boarding on all buses. Read more here.
  • A maximum of 10 passengers are allowed on a bus at any given time. 
  • The MCTS Administration Building, 1942 N. 17th Street, is closed to visitors.

How You Can Help:

  • Leave extra room between yourself and others.
  • If possible, wear a face mask or another type of cloth covering your nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
Summary of Current MCTS Service
  • Buses that run Mondays-Fridays are using a regular weekday schedule. All Freeway Flyer service and ‘school trips’ are still suspended.
  • Weekend schedules remain unchanged with one exception; Route 137 is not operating to the House of Correction.
  • Note About UBUS Routes (40U, 44U 49U): UBUS routes only operate to colleges and universities when those institutions are in session. Since schools are not in session for the rest of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UBUS routes are not running.
Steps We’re Taking
  • MCTS buses go through an extra daily disinfection process using EPA-approved and CDC-recommended products. That’s in addition to the standard cleaning that vehicles receive on a regular basis.
  • A maximum of 10 passengers are allowed on a bus at any given time. This helps increase the ability for riders and employees to follow social distancing guidelines.
  • MCTS encourages riders to use contactless fare payment methods (like the M-CARD or Ride MCTS App) rather than paying with cash.
  • MCTS is using all available communication channels -- including digital platforms, advertisements, press releases, and on-bus audio announcements and signage -- to inform riders and employees of steps they can take to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 (proper hygiene tips, the importance of social distancing, etc.).
  • MCTS strongly recommends that passengers follow the CDC's guidance to wear some sort of face mask or cloth covering while in public settings like a bus.
  • MCTS provides disinfectant solutions and cleaning cloths to bus drivers to ensure that they can clean their workspace throughout the day. We are also providing equipment like masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes to employees.
  • MCTS has closed its MCTS Administration Building, 1942 N. 17th Street, to visitors. Click here to learn about accomodations being made to serve visitors remotely.
  • Each of our facilities (stations, garages and administration offices) are thoroughly cleaned every day. MCTS is following the CDC guidelines to protect workers found here
Frequently Asked Questions

Why haven’t you shut down the bus system?

Public transportation is considered ‘essential infrastructure’ by federal, state and local officials. Transit agencies like MCTS provide a critical service to people who depend on the bus to get to and from essential jobs and important destinations like hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores.

What kind of schedule are you running on weekdays?

Buses that run Mondays-Fridays have resumed using a regular weekday schedule. All Freeway Flyer service, UBUS service, and ‘school trips’ are still suspended.

Do I have to pay fare?

Yes. MCTS resumed fare collection and front door boarding on all buses at 4:00 a.m. on June 1, 2020. 

MCTS stopped collecting fare on March 28, 2020 and announced that the temporary policy would continue until further notice. Then, on May 26, MCTS announced that fare collection and front door boarding would resume June 1. The goal of originally suspending fare collection was not to encourage more people to ride the bus, but rather to facilitate important social distancing practices to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The suspension of fare collection allowed the majority of passengers to enter and exit the bus through the back door only – which significantly decreased the amount of passenger/bus driver interaction.

Are buses crowded?

Overall, MCTS has seen a significant decrease in ridership since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. However, some of our most utilized bus routes still occasionally see higher ridership. That is why MCTS has added extra buses onto those routes. Additionally, a maximum of 10 passengers are allowed on a bus at any given time. Both of these steps help ensure that passengers can still practice social distancing while on board. Remember, if you ever see a bus that seems too crowded to allow for proper social distancing, please wait for the next bus to arrive.

Are passengers required to wear masks while on board?

MCTS strongly encourages you to wear a mask or another type of cloth that covers your nose and mouth; however it is not mandatory at this time. The CDC recommends that you wear cloth face coverings in public settings. Click here to view the CDC’s website, which also includes instructions on how to make your own mask.

Who can I contact with questions about my unused Pass?

Please contact our Customer Service Center by phone at 414-937-3218 (Voice), 711 (TRS), or email "customerservice@mcts.org".

What has changed about the boarding/exiting process?

Starting June 1, all passengers will resume using the front door to board the bus. Until then, riders must enter and exit the bus through the back door only, unless they need assistance with a mobility device or other ADA accommodation. If you still need to use the front door and the ramp, please let the bus driver know. Be patient and leave plenty of space between yourself and others while entering and exiting the bus.

What are you doing to keep your passengers safe?

Please see the ‘Steps We’re Taking’ section of RideMCTS.com/Coronavirus for a listing of actions we’re taking to protect our passengers and employees.

What are you doing to keep your drivers safe?

Please see the ‘Steps We’re Taking’ section of RideMCTS.com/Coronavirus for a listing of actions we’re taking to protect our passengers and employees.

Are you able to provide your drivers with masks?

Yes, MCTS is providing masks and other equipment like hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to drivers and other employees.

Do you have any information you can share about ridership during the pandemic?

Now more than ever, it’s clear that public transportation is essential. At the beginning of the pandemic, many of our riders used the bus only to get to and from work and other essential destinations like the grocery store, pharmacy and hospital. In May, we asked our riders to fill out a brief survey about their ridership habits during the pandemic. Click here to view the results.

At its lowest point during the pandemic, MCTS saw a decline in ridership of between 60-70%. In April, ridership was down approx. 55%. In May, ridership was down approximately 44%. Ridership continues to slowly increase as time goes on.

If a bus has 10 passengers on board, but the accessible seating area is empty, can I board with my mobility device?

No, the 10-person limit is being strictly enforced. Please wait for the next bus.

If I’m travelling with a PCA (Patient Care Assistant/Aide) and a bus has nine passengers on it and pulls up to the stop, can the PCA ride with me or do we have to wait until the next bus?

The 10-person limit is being strictly enforced, meaning you’ll have to wait for the next bus.

Can my PCA sit next to me on the bus or do we have to practice social distancing?

The CDC recommends that people leave as much space between each other as possible. However, the decision is ultimately yours.

If I’m taking the bus to work or to the doctor, do I get priority access to an available seat over someone who is going to the store or riding to a non-essential destination?

We aren’t allowed to prioritize rides. Access to available seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. We understand that this is an inconvenience, and we are doing everything we can to reduce the amount of time you have to wait for the next bus.

Are there designated seats to sit in order to properly maintain social distancing?

Not at this time. While the CDC recommends that you stay at least six feet from others, passengers are responsible for choosing somewhere to sit or stand that is as far away from others as possible.

Archive of Press Releases

 

May 26, 2020: MCTS to Resume Fare Collection on June 1

  • MCTS will resume fare collection and front door boarding on all buses starting June 1, 2020. To help maintain social distancing, MCTS will continue to limit riders to 10 per bus. Click here to read more.

May 14, 2020: Despite 'Safer at Home' Order Changes, All Current MCTS Policies Remain in Effect

  • You may have seen a lot of news recently about state and local ‘Safer at Home’ orders. Please note that all of our current COVID-19 related policies and procedures remain in effect until further notice. Click here to read more.

April 20, 2020: MCTS Recommends Wearing Masks or Face Coverings

  • MCTS recommends that all passengers wear a face mask or cloth that covers your nose and mouth, while on board our buses. Click here to read more.

April 13, 2020: MCTS Resumes Weekday Schedule

  • MCTS buses that run Mondays through Fridays have resumed using a regular weekday schedule. All Freeway Flyer service, UBUS service, and ‘school trips’ are still suspended. Click here to read more.

April 8, 2020: MCTS Limits Number of Riders Per Bus

  • Starting Thursday, April 9 and lasting until further notice, a maximum of 10 passengers will be allowed on a bus at any given time.  Click here to read more.

March 26, 2020: MCTS Suspends Fare Collection

  • Starting Saturday, March 28 and lasting until further notice, MCTS is suspending fare collection and informing riders that they must enter and exit the bus through the back door only, unless they need assistance with a mobility device or other ADA accommodation. Suspending fare collection limits the interaction between passengers and bus drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember, only ride the bus if you HAVE to. Read more here.

March 20, 2020: Reduced Service

  • Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, MCTS buses that run on weekdays are now using a Saturday schedule. This reduction in service includes the suspension of all Freeway Flyer routes. Read more here.

March 19, 2020: Admin Building Closed

  • In an effort to focus on public safety and help prevent further community spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) is closing its MCTS Administration Building - 1942 North 17th Street - to visitors effective at 4:30 p.m. on March 19, 2020, lasting until further notice. Click here to read more.

March 16, 2020: Limit Non-Essential Travel

  • MCTS requests that riders limit their non-essential bus travel until further notice. For those who must travel out of necessity, please click here to read more about ‘social distancing’ and steps you can take to limit your interactions with the bus driver and help prevent the spread of the virus while on the bus.

March 13, 2020: Help Stop the Spread

  • MCTS remains fully operational. Riders can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by following the recommendations of health officials – including leaving plenty of distance between yourself and others. Click here to read more.

March 11, 2020: Extra Cleaning

  • MCTS has proactively implemented an extra daily disinfection process on all buses using EPA-approved and CDC-recommended cleaning products. That’s in addition to the standard cleaning our vehicles receive on a regular basis. Click here to read more.
Employee COVID-19 Cases

MCTS is closely monitoring the latest developments regarding COVID-19 and following guidance from the Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) to proactively implement measures that help protect the safety of our employees and customers. In the interest of protecting our employees' medical privacy, we treat health information in strict confidence. MCTS and Milwaukee County will not release names or any other personal information that may compromise the privacy of any member of our workforce.

On March 20, MHD confirmed to MCTS that a bus operator tested positive for COVID-19. Employees and the public were made aware of this finding the same day. Additional cases of COVID-19 among the MCTS workforce will be identified in the table below, which will be updated as necessary. MCTS has more than 1,000 employees and there is no evidence of the virus being widespread among the workforce. The MHD has asserted that MCTS passengers are not considered to be 'at risk' from a bus operator who later tested positive for COVID-19, due to the driver’s shield and their minimal interaction. In addition, MCTS has been following the CDC Guidelines regarding employees who have had exposure to persons who test positive for COVID-19.

Position Work Location MCTS Notified Case Status Last Worked Employees in Close Contact* Close Contacts Notified* Disinfection Process Complete
Bus Operator Fond du Lac Station 3/20/20 Recovered & Back at Work 3/17/20 Yes (7) Yes Yes
Bus Operator Trainee Fond du Lac Station 3/25/20 Recovered & Back at Work 3/25/20 Yes (4) Yes Yes
Bus Operator Fond du Lac Station 4/1/20 Recovered & Back at Work 3/20/20 No N/A Yes
Bus Operator Kinnickinnic Station 5/6/20 Recovered & Back at Work 5/03/20 Yes (1) Yes Yes
Bus Operator Fond du Lac Station 5/22/20 Recovered & Back at Work 4/30/20 No N/A Yes
Bus Operator Fond du Lac Station 6/2/20 Recovered & Back at Work 5/28/20 Yes (2) Yes Yes
Bus Operator Kinnickinnic Station 6/11/20 Recovered & Back at Work 6/5/20 Yes (2) Yes Yes
Bus Operator Fond du Lac Station 6/26/20 On Leave 6/24/20 Yes (1) Yes Yes
Bus Operator Fond du Lac Station 7/6/20 On Leave 6/30/20 Yes (7) Yes Yes
Bus Operator Fond du Lac Station 7/6/20 On Leave 7/1/20 No N/A Yes
Bus Operator Fond du Lac Station 7/7/20 On Leave 6/30/20 Yes (2) Yes Yes

 

*The MHD advises that Close Contact is defined as 10 minutes of time spent closer than 6-feet away from the patient that tested positive, or a shared workspace. The MHD will contact those who may have had prolonged exposure with employees who have tested positive.

Community Coming Together

These are challenging times and we’ve had a lot of important information to pass along to you lately about COVID-19 and our service. But this special section of our website is meant to bring a smile to your face. It’s proof that our community is stronger when we all work together!

 

Signs of Support

We’ve noticed that some members of the community are thanking bus drivers by hanging signs along our routes. Thank you for this kind gesture! We appreciate all the support.

Donations

We want to thank several local businesses, organizations and coalitions who have stepped up to donate masks and other goods to MCTS, including: Just One More Ministry, Rebel Converting, Mask Up MKE, Bouchards in Milwaukee, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Masked Sewists for Southeast Wisconsin, the Sierra Club: Great Waters Group, Kickapoo Coffee and Great Lakes Coca-Cola Distribution. We'd also like to thank the FTA for sending reusable masks for use by employees. Any other businesses interested in helping can contact: marketing@mcts.org.

Special Messages on Social Media

MCTS Virtual Backgrounds

Whether you’re telecommuting, attending classes online, or catching up with friends and family via webcam, we're making it easy to show your love for MCTS! Download, save and use our MCTS virtual backgrounds for any of your preferred video chatting platforms. Click here to see all of them!

Virtual Tours of Milwaukee County

Can't wait to visit your favorite attractions? Well thanks to the wonders of technology there are plenty of options for exploring all that Milwaukee County has to offer from the comfort of your couch. Check out our list of virtual tours you can take right now.

Local Heroes Coloring Book

Our friends at Milwaukee Downtown teamed up with artist and muralist Ken Brown to create a coloring book that salutes local heroes, including MCTS bus drivers! Print your own copy here.

MCTS Activity Guide for Kids & Families

To help brighten your day, we put together a digital MCTS coloring & activity book you can download. It includes a bus-related coloring page, a maze and a bus word search. Download the coloring & activity book here!

If you'd like to show off your family's artwork or a sign that you spotted in your neighborhood, please send a photo to marketing@mcts.org 

Contact Us

Many questions can be answered by visiting RideMCTS.com or by calling our 24/7 automated information hotline at 414-344-6711.

You can also contact our Customer Service Center by phone at 414-937-3218 (Voice), 711 (TRS), or email "customerservice@mcts.org". Representatives are available to answer your questions Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Customers may retrieve lost articles left on the bus by appointment only. Please contact Customer Service Center at 414-937-3218 to arrange pickup.

For questions regarding Transit Plus service, please call 414-343-1700 (Voice), 711 (TRS), or email tpcomments@mcts.org.

Other Resources

Milwaukee County

Milwaukee Health Department

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Click here to view our special edition of the BusLines newsletter (en español), which includes additional information about community resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.