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MCTS CONNECT

Introducing Milwaukee County’s newest bus rapid transit system (BRT), CONNECT. The BRT will connect our community to employment, education, and recreation via a new nine-mile route. Battery electric buses (BEBs) will provide reliable high-frequency transportation, cost savings, and a cleaner environment to thousands of riders annually. 

WHAT IS MCTS CONNECT? 

The new CONNECT 1 nine-mile route isn’t just transit, it’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). As BRT, the CONNECT 1 emulates a rail line, but uses the cost efficiencies of a bus to construct a line traveling farther (dollar-per-mile) than rail. BRT uses a unique combination of tools to do this, including dedicated lanes (instead of rails), elevated stations, off-board fare collection, and premium amenities. These tools work in concert to give the bus an advantage in traffic, and to reduce time spent idling at each bus stop (dwell time), and when waiting at a bus stop (BRT station) passengers have access to rail-like features such as Real-Time Signs (next bus information) and premium transit shelters. The CONNECT 1 has 16 stations each way plus an electric charging station for a total of 33 boarding locations.  

This BRT line features service every 10 minutes weekdays during peak times and midday, and every 20-30 minutes for off-peak hours; weekends every 15 minutes (peak) and 20-30 minutes off-peak. 

The CONNECT 1 was also MCTS’s opportunity to introduce Battery Electric Buses to the system, a first for the county.  An electric charging station at the CONNECT 1’s layover will keep each Battery-Electric Bus charged and ready for riders. Buses can operate up to 247 miles on a single charge and will recharge during layovers throughout the service day. 

 

WHY IS CONNECT IMPORTANT?

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TIME SAVINGS 

Dedicated bus-only lanes means less competition with traffic and shorter travel times.

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FREQUENT

Buses arrive every 10 minutes during peak times and 15 minutes on weekends.

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RELIABLE

Fewer stops and pre-board fare payment provides for more predictable service for riders.

HOW DO I RIDE CONNECT?


 

It's easy!

  1. Board any of the 33 CONNECT stations.
     
  2. When the CONNECT bus arrives, you can board through either the front or back door and head to your favorite spot to ride.  
     
  3. Enjoy the quietest ride in town!
 

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HOW DO I PAY FOR CONNECT 1? 

 

There's a new way to ride the CONNECT. Riders must prepay and validate their fare at CONNECT stations using the Umo app, WisGo card, cash or credit card. Just pay, board & ride!

Learn how to Prepay and validate your fare! 
 

CONNECT STATION FEATURES

 

33 beautifully designed stations connect regional network of major employment centers, education facilities and recreational destinations. Here are some features of the new shelters you may not know about!

  • Elevated Curb
    • Bus doesn’t have to “kneel” or lower 
  • Snowmelt System
    • Triggered by heat sensors, concrete is kept at above-freezing temperatures during colder seasons. Snow melts on contact, keeping each station clear
  • Premium Shelter
    • Metal/glass with wooden roof-beam accents.
  • Lighting
    • Bright enough to read a book at night, keep you safe; low enough to stay below “urban light pollution”
    • Security Cameras
  • Pylon Sign
    • 14-ft tall, easily seen from down the road (Where is the next BRT station? There!)
    • Includes specialized branding and lighting
  • Railings 
  • Detectable Warning Field
    • “Sidewalk plate” running along the station roadway edge (2-ft) alerting passengers to watch their step
  • Real-Time Sign
    • Next available bus
    • Audio push button for sight impaired (English/Spanish) mounted on the side of the ticket vending machine (TVM) 
  • Trash/Recycle
    • Every litter-bit helps!
  • Off-Board Fare Collection
    • Ticket Vending Machine
    • Pole Validator

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to see details.

FEATURES OF CONNECT BUSES 

 

  • 11 Battery Electric Buses (BEBs).
  • Charge overnight in the MCTS garage. 
  • Charge at layovers at the Watertown Plank park and ride to keep the batteries running at peak performance throughout the service day. 
  • Charging ports on board. Battery running low? Charge your devices at one of our ports located throughout the bus under the seats. 

 

FAQs

What is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)?

Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, is light rail without the rails. In place of tracks are dedicated lanes, and in place of a streetcar or trolly is a bus. Bus stops become BRT stations. It is an increasingly popular approach to deliver enhanced public transportation services in communities seeking cost-effective ways to reduce traffic congestion, improve mobility and increase transit ridership. BRT features unique branding, specialized vehicles and improved transit stations to enhance the transit experience for riders. Technology improvements include real-time arrival signs at stations, and road features such as exclusive transit lanes. 

Dedicated Bus Lanes

PEDESTRIANS

  • Look for vehicles in all directions before crossing the street.
  • Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic. At
    bus stops, cross at the nearest crosswalk.

MOTORISTS

  • Look for and yield to buses when entering the bus lane.
  • Only enter bus lane when making right turn onto streets or
    driveways, or to parallel park. The bus lane cannot be used
    as a driving lane.
  • Utilize turn signal when entering or exiting bus and
    parking lanes.
  • After yielding to buses and pedestrians, fully enter bus lane
    before proceeding to make a right turn from bus lane.
  • Parallel parking is permitted in designated parking areas.

CYCLISTS

  • Cyclists are allowed to travel in the dedicated bus lane.
  • Be aware of approaching vehicles.
  • Use hand signals to indicate turning.
  • Obey the rules of the road.

Click here to view the PDF.

Who will use BRT?

Running parallel to I-94, the CONNECT 1 serves the busiest east-west corridor in the county. Ridership will be fueled by activity generators within the half-mile station area around the route including: 9 colleges and universities and 8 high schools 48,900 residents 110,700 jobs, 200 businesses with 100 or more employees, 8 medical facilities, 25+ hotels, and countless attractions including the county zoo, American Family Field, Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee Art Museum and Summerfest. 

How much will CONNECT cost to ride?

Free rides on the CONNECT 1 will continue into early April! All you need to do for now is get on board, grab a seat and enjoy your ride! 

After that period, CONNECT will be fully integrated into MCTS, and the cost to ride will be the same as the cost to ride other MCTS services. An adult MCTS fare is $2 per ride using a WisGO card,  Umo app or cash or credit card. Learn more here.

How fast do BRT buses travel?

BRT bus drivers are trained to never go faster than the legal speed limit. The "rapid" in "bus rapid transit" refers to the travel time savings realized by BRT service features that make travel more efficient compared with normal bus service. The full 9-mile CONNECT 1 traveling one-way end-to-end will take 34 minutes; from Milwaukee’s downtown to the medical center in Wauwatosa 30 minutes, a travel time-savings of up to 8 minutes compared with existing bus service. 

How do bus lanes work with peds, cars & bikes?

A case study published 2022 found that the BRT corridor in Albuquerque, NM saw a 57.1% decrease in serious crashes. Experts also believe adding bus service makes neighborhoods safer by taking cars off the road; plus, BRT features including dedicated lanes calm traffic and increase driver awareness. Exclusive transit lanes reduce weaving and cars won’t get stuck behind idling buses. Enhanced boarding stations provide lighting to make safer, more visible locations. They also remind motorists to watch for buses and passengers getting on and off at the stations. 

Dedicated Bus Lanes

PEDESTRIANS

  • Look for vehicles in all directions before crossing the street.
  • Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic. At
    bus stops, cross at the nearest crosswalk.

MOTORISTS

  • Look for and yield to buses when entering the bus lane.
  • Only enter bus lane when making right turn onto streets or
    driveways, or to parallel park. The bus lane cannot be used
    as a driving lane.
  • Utilize turn signal when entering or exiting bus and
    parking lanes.
  • After yielding to buses and pedestrians, fully enter bus lane
    before proceeding to make a right turn from bus lane.
  • Parallel parking is permitted in designated parking areas.

CYCLISTS

  • Cyclists are allowed to travel in the dedicated bus lane.
  • Be aware of approaching vehicles.
  • Use hand signals to indicate turning.
  • Obey the rules of the road.

Click here to view the PDF version.

Where is BRT used?

BRT is used successfully in hundreds of cities worldwide and dozens more are under construction across the country. Cities similar in size to Milwaukee that have BRT operations include Kansas City, Missouri; Jacksonville, Florida; San Antonio and El Paso in Texas; and Cincinnati and Cleveland in Ohio. 

How will BRT work with existing transit services?

  • CONNECT will replace the GoldLine, taking the busiest portion of that local route and make it a premium, high-frequency service. CONNECT will then serve as a rapid connector to local north-south and downtown routes, creating a robust spine for the transit corridor. 

  • Route 30 (Sherman – Wisconsin) service will be increased as Route 30 will serve former GoldLine passengers between downtown and UWM. 

  • Waukesha Metro Route 1 (Brookfield) will be extended from Brookfield Square to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and replace GoldLine service. MCTS and Waukesha Metro worked together to develop this plan. 

  • Route 21 service (North Ave-UWM) will be expanded to maintain service along Downer Avenue every day and all year long. Route 21 service on Downer Avenue today does not operate on weekends or during the summer. 

  • Route 14 (Humboldt-Forest Home) will be modified into two separate routes to improve reliability and on-time performance.
    • New Route 14 (Humboldt Blvd) will primarily serve Humboldt Boulevard between Bayshore and downtown. Riders can transfer to CONNECT 1 BRT at the Jackson & Wisconsin Station (as well as to Route 30). 
    • New Route 24 (Forest Home) will primarily serve Forest Home Avenue between Southridge and the MCTS Administration Building on 17th & Fond du Lac. Riders can transfer to CONNECT 1 Bus Station at the 16th & Wisconsin Station as well as to Route 30. 
  • The BlueLine (Fond du Lac – Mill) will travel on 17th Street to Highland Avenue, Highland Avenue to 12th Street, 12th Street to Wells and Wells to 6th Street to the Intermodal Station. Northbound buses will follow the same streets.   

These local route changes will go into effect June 4 to work in concert with CONNECT.  

How does transferring to Waukesha Route 1 work?

The Waukesha Metro 1 bus will be coming into Milwaukee County. The CONNECT and Metro 1 meet at 95th & Bluemound and at 92nd & Connell in the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center (MRMC). 

Where to board to transfer to Waukesha Route 1 from the CONNECT 1

 

Where to board to transfer to the CONNECT 1 from Waukesha Route 1

 

How much does it cost to transfer?

Riders boarding a Route 1 within the old GoldLine zone wishing to utilize a transfer coming from MCTS should tap their Umo mobile app or WisGo card on the validator to board.

  • Riders without an active transfer have two options:
    • You can tap your Umo mobile app or WisGo card to pay your fare using your stored value, OR
    • You can pay the Route 1 fare utilizing Waukesha existing processes

Transfers are also accepted when transferring from the Waukesha Route 1 to the CONNECT 1.

Our MCTS fare policy will guide all other matter of fare payments between Waukesha Metro and MCTS. 

Click here for Waukesha Metro fare information.

Future CONNECT 2 BRT Project

This project paves the way for the proposed CONNECT 2 BRT Line on 27th Street. To learn more about this enhancement and give feedback, visit the project website!