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County Executive Abele Announces Additional Transit Funding in 2020 Budget


Update on November 4, 2019: Milwaukee County Board amendment calls for reinstating bus services. Click here to read a news article about the amendment and click here for more information from the County Board.

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) on September 19, 2019 announced that the 2020 Recommended Transit Budget includes a re-direction of $4.1 million in funds that will restore multiple routes originally slated for elimination.

“We are pleased that the County Executive allocated $4.1 million to restore the majority of routes that were proposed to be eliminated. This should be welcome news for the businesses, schools and individuals who were going to be affected," said MCTS President and Managing Director Dan Boehm. "I want to say thank you to everyone who made their voices heard – your advocacy in support of public transit to elected officials helped make a difference. That said, there are still a few routes that will have to be cut to balance the budget. It’s imperative that we move beyond this short-term fix and identify a long-term funding solution in order to meet the vital transportation needs of the community and its stakeholders.”

“I am fully committed to having world-class public transportation throughout the county, and I will always fight for every opportunity to renew, restore and rebuild our infrastructure and keep us competitive,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “MCTS is the engine of job growth and opportunity for many of our residents, and while there were many difficult decisions to make in the upcoming 2020 budget, the bus routes that help thousands of people get to work, school and home every day will remain intact.”

The additional $4.1 million for transit will maintain 10 bus routes — including all Freeway Flyers, two UBUS routes and Route 52. Routes 55 and 80 will also remain unchanged. 

The Full Recommended Budget also adds $100,000 for a new bus route that will provide service to and from the Amazon distribution center in Oak Creek, starting in late 2020. The route is expected to operate from 35th & Fond du Lac, through Downtown and the near southside, before entering the freeway.

A few routes with low-ridership, including but not limited to seasonal special event service to Ethnic Festivals and State Fair, are not included in the 2020 Transit Budget.

County Executive Abele will submit his 2020 Recommended Budget proposal to the County Board of Supervisors on October 1, 2019. 

See the table below for a full list of restored routes as well as the special event/seasonal services that are proposed to not be funded in 2020. The services that were not restored have low Passengers Per Bus Hour (PBH) rates — a metric used in the public transit industry to determine whether it is feasible to operate a bus. 

Restored Routes New Route Routes to End in 2020
Route 52: Clement - 15th Avenue Amazon Distribution Center
in Oak Creek: From 35th &
Fond du Lac through
Downtown and the near
southside, before
entering the freeway.
Shuttle Route 17: Canal Street
Route 80: Service south of MATC South Campus Shuttle Route 276: Brown Deer
Route 55: Service west of 76th & east of Packard Shuttle Route 223: Park Place - Bradley Woods
Route 44U: State Fair Park - Hales Corners UBUS   Shuttle Route 219: Oak Creek
Route 40U: Holt College UBUS   Route 42U: 6th Street - Port Washington UBUS
Route 137: House of Corrections   Route 49U: Brown Deer UBUS
Route 40: College Avenue Flyer   Special Event lines (Brewers Line, State Fair,
and ethnic festivals)
Route 43: Hales Corners Flyer  
Route 44: State Fair Park Flyer    
Route 46: Loomis - Holt Flyer    
Route 48: South Shore Flyer    
Route 49: Brown Deer - Bayshore Flyer    

The substantial amount of this re-investment is due to unsustainable funding sources that can’t be depended on for future years. This temporary bandage will help the County avoid large-scale route cuts this year, but will not help in the long-term. 

County Executive Abele and a group of local elected officials and business leaders recently announced plans to move forward and pursue a new partnership with the State. The proposed bill would allow Milwaukee County and local municipalities to pursue a binding referendum for a 1 percent local option sales tax that would be reinvested into the community. Click here to learn more about “Move Forward MKE.”

MCTS encourages anyone who shares our passion for transit to speak up on the need for a long-term funding solution. Please contact your State and Federal leaders to tell them how important public transportation is to you, your family, and your neighbors.