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MCTS NEXT - What's Next is Right Here 

What’s NEXT for the Milwaukee County Transit System? An upgraded route system that improves the rider experience and meets the changing needs of our community.

Faster service, more connections, and easier-to-understand routing are just some of the benefits that are part of MCTS NEXT, which will be implemented in three phases throughout 2021. 




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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PurpleLine  11  12  14  21  34  53  57  58  80  88​

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Phase 3:
August 29th

Phase 3 Map

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BlueLine  OrangeLine  22  28  54  55  56  60  66  76  92

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Milwaukee County has evolved over the years, especially when it comes to the locations of job centers, shopping destinations, schools, and residential areas. As our region grows and changes, so should its transit system. That’s why, in 2018, MCTS started concepting a new approach to improve the rider experience and meet the community’s modern needs. 





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, OrangeLine, Routes 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 ParaTransit services will remain unchanged.