MCTS NEXT - What's Next is Right Here 

Our region has evolved over the years, especially when it comes to the locations of job centers, shopping destinations, schools, and residential areas. That’s why, in 2018, the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) started working on a new approach to improve the rider experience and meet the community's modern needs. The MCTS NEXT system redesign aligns with Milwaukee County's mission to advance racial equity and enhance the quality of life through great public service.

Faster service, more connections, and easier-to-understand routing are just some of the benefits that rolled out in 2021 as part of MCTS NEXT. Explore this page to find out more!




More Connections > Faster Routes > Easier System More Connections > Faster Routes > Easier System




Phase 1:
March 7th

Phase 1 Map

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15*   19*   20   31   33   35*   51*   52   63   68


Phase 2:
June 6th

Phase 2 Map

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Jump to Route: PurpleLine*   11   12*   14   21   34   53   57   58   80*   88

Phase 3:
August 29th

Phase 3 Map

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Jump to Route: BlueLine   18*   22   28   54   55   56   60   66*   76   92*


High Frequency

Prior to MCTS NEXT, we were at 40% high frequency across the system. Now that phase 3 is in effect, we are at 60% high frequency!


More Trips

Now that MCTS NEXT is complete, there are 17% more trips on weekdays compared to before NEXT! This means buses are coming more often!


Boost in Ridership

The improved routes have already been seeing an increase in ridership! After phase 1, the refreshed routes saw a 14% boost in ridership.


Virtual Public Meetings

We hosted several virtual public meetings to give an overview of what to expect with Phases One, Two, and Three of MCTS NEXT. Did you miss the events? No problem. You can click the links below to watch archived video:

Phase One Meetings:

Phase Two Meetings:

Phase Three Meetings:


How did we get here?





What does High Frequency Mean?
  • Benefits of MCTS NEXT include a larger number of high frequency routes offered across our system!
  • Increasing frequency means buses come more often.
    • For example, a route is High Frequency if its buses arrive every 15 minutes, if not more often. A route is Low Frequency if its buses arrive with longer wait times.
    • With High Frequency routes, you don’t even need to check the schedule, because you know a bus will be pulling up soon!
  • Currently, the MCTS system is composed of 40% high frequency routes and 60% low frequency routes. Once MCTS NEXT is fully implemented, those numbers will swap. We’ll have 60% high frequency, and 40% low frequency.
What is Bus Stop Balancing?

  • The majority of riders have told us they want faster service – and they’re willing to walk a little extra to get it. That’s why our team is working hard to make sure bus stops are spaced appropriately – or ‘balanced.’
  • Bus stop balancing means shortening your travel time by judiciously removing some stops that are too close to each other, are not used often, or do not meet standards for being accessible to persons with disabilities. It also makes it possible to reallocate bus shelters to busier stops.
  • On a local bus route, bus stops should be within a convenient walking distance of each other – about a quarter-mile. When bus stops are spaced more tightly than that, service slows down to a crawl. Just think: by the time a bus accelerates away from a stop, it’s time to start slowing down for the next stop. That means it takes a longer time to get you to your destination.
  • Buses will continue to serve stops at key destinations and points of interest such as:
    • Transfer corners
    • Major employers, medical facilities, senior centers, and residences for elderly persons and persons with disabilities.
    • Bus stops regularly used by riders with mobility devices
  • Properly balanced bus stops can help make service faster and more reliable for everyone, while still preserving convenience and walkability.
What impacted your decisions for MCTS NEXT?
  • MCTS spent nearly three years conducting a comprehensive review of the entire transit system. Planners examined and evaluated every route and bus stop across the MCTS service area to identify opportunities for improvements, enhanced efficiency, and faster service.
  • A massive public outreach effort – including 13 open house events and more than 40 stakeholder meetings – resulted in hundreds of comments and thousands of interactions with passengers, bus drivers, businesses, community groups, and elected officials.
  • Additionally, MCTS received input from the Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs (OAAA). This valuable feedback helped shape plans that will advance racial equity by improving access for people of color to employment, education, healthcare, grocery stores, and other essential destinations.
When does MCTS NEXT take effect?
  • Changes and improvements related to MCTS NEXT will roll out in three phases.
  • Phase 1 takes effect on March 7, 2021 and will include: Routes 15, 19, 20, 31, 33, 35, 51, 52, 63, 68.
  • Phase 2 takes effect on June 6, 2021 and will include: PurpleLine, Routes 11, 12, 14, 21, 34, 53, 57, 58, 80, 88.
  • Phase 3 takes effect on August 29, 2021 and will include: BlueLine, Routes 18, 22, 28, 54, 55, 56, 60, 66, 76, 92.
How much did MCTS NEXT cost?

MCTS NEXT is cost-neutral – meaning it was created based on the existing budget to ensure that operating costs remain consistent. For the purposes of this project, we did not factor in any additional funding.

How does MCTS NEXT address Freeway Flyers & UBUS

MCTS NEXT is focused on the seven day a week fixed routes that make up 90% of MCTS service. Freeway Flyers, UBUS service, and special service to events like Brewers games, Summerfest and State Fair are not part of MCTS NEXT.

How does MCTS impact ParaTransit services?

MCTS's door-to-door van and taxi ParaTransit services will remain unchanged.

However, we understand that some of our Transit Plus clients ride fixed route buses. That's why our team is working hard to communicate all upcoming changes related to MCTS NEXT.

Outreach Activities to Transit Plus Clients Include:

  • Bilingual post card to Transit Plus clients informing them about MCTS NEXT.
  • Targeted research of organizations, schools, community centers, senior centers, low income or senior housing facilities and other community partners along corridors of the routes changing. Provided information so they can share it with residents, staff or program participants.
  • Included messaging in "Handy News and Notes" newsletter.
  • Presented information to schools and senior residences during virtual outreach meetings.
  • MCTS Planners spoke to members of the Transit Plus Advisory Committee (TPAC).
  • Mailed new MCTS NEXT maps and printed materials to customers.
How can I share my feedback?

Over the last three years, MCTS conducted a massive public outreach effort – which included 13 open house events and more than 50 stakeholder meetings – resulting in hundreds of comments and thousands of interactions with passengers, bus drivers, businesses, community groups, and elected officials. This feedback helped shape the final MCTS NEXT plans that are rolling out in 2021.

As always, your voice is important to MCTS! You are welcome to fill out this contact form to let us know what you think!