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Second Phase of ‘MCTS NEXT’ System Redesign Takes Effect June 6th

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) is reminding passengers that the second phase of its MCTS NEXT system redesign takes effect Sunday, June 6, 2021 with improvements, additions, and adjustments to Routes 11, 12, 14, 21, 34, 53, 57, 58, 80, 88, and PurpleLine.

Milwaukee County has evolved over the years, especially when it comes to the locations of job centers, shopping destinations, schools, and residential areas. MCTS NEXT is an exciting effort to update the route network, improve the rider experience, and meet the community’s modern needs. The project aligns with Milwaukee County’s mission to advance racial equity and enhance the quality of life through great public service.

The first phase of MCTS NEXT, which kicked off in March 2021, brought significant improvements to the system including 13% more high frequency service and 5% more trips across the board. In just the first few weeks, ridership on the new and improved routes has already seen an increase. The second phase of MCTS NEXT, which starts June 6, will bring additional benefits, including:

  • More high-frequency service.
    • When buses come more often, passengers enjoy reliable service and can easily connect with other routes.
    • Route 80’s high frequency service will be extended north of Locust Street (including 7th Street/8th Street, Dr. M.L.K. Drive and Green Bay Avenue) to Florist Avenue.
    • Route 12’s high frequency service will be extended north of Hampton Avenue all the way to Brown Deer Road (via Teutonia Avenue and Green Bay Road).
    • The PurpleLine’s high frequency service will be extended to include new routing on the northern end to Bayshore.
    • There will also be more frequent service on Hampton Avenue (Route 11), Hopkins Street (Route 34), Villard Avenue (Route 58) and Brown Deer Road (Route 88) compared to what is currently available along these corridors.
    • Passengers can visit RideMCTS.com/NEXT or call 414-344-6711 for details on exactly how often buses will come along certain routes.
  • Better connections to jobs and grocery stores.
    • Four new routes – Routes 11, 34, 58, and 88 – will provide additional routing options for passengers. Visit RideMCTS.com/NEXT to see maps showing where these routes will operate.
    • Route 88 will provide brand new service to and from Woodman’s, Sam’s Club, and Aldi at 124th & Bradley as well as Briggs & Stratton nearby. This is the first time employees and shoppers will be able to access these destinations by MCTS bus.
    • Route 12 will now provide more direct service to destinations like the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Milwaukee County Courthouse, and MATC.
  • Improved service on weekends.
    • We’re making improvements to weekend service on Routes 11, 12, 34, 58, 80, and 88.
    • For example, Route 12 buses north of Hampton Avenue will now arrive every 20-25 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays (versus 40 minutes today). Route 58 buses will run approximately every 30 minutes on weekends (versus 60 minutes today).
  • Simpler routing that is more direct and easier-to-understand.
    • Routes 12 and 80 will be adjusted to provide more frequent service along a single corridor instead of being “branched” onto multiple streets with low frequency service like they are today.
    • Route 12 service on the Hampton Avenue branch will be replaced by a new route, Route 11. Service on Brown Deer Road between Green Bay Road and 66th-Park Plaza will be replaced by a new, expanded route, Route 88.
    • Route 80 service on the Hopkins Street branch will be replaced by a new, expanded route, Route 34. Service on the Villard Avenue branch will be replaced by a new, expanded route, Route 58.
  • Faster service by properly-balancing bus stops.
    • We are working to make sure bus stops along Routes 12, 14, 21, 53, 57, and 80 are properly balanced.
    • Bus stop balancing means shortening many riders’ travel times by 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.

Passengers are encouraged to visit RideMCTS.com/NEXT or call 414-344-6711 for specific information about what to expect on their routes.

In addition to making this important information about MCTS NEXT available online and via phone 24 hours a day, MCTS launched an English and Spanish-language advertising campaign on buses, bus shelters, billboards, radio, newspapers, news websites, and social media. There are also audio announcements playing on board buses, informative bus stop signage, MCTS NEXT-focused passenger newsletters, virtual meetings, and other communications efforts to inform the community.

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 improve the overall system and advance racial equity by increasing access for people of color to employment, education, healthcare, grocery stores, and other essential destinations. 

Phase Two of MCTS NEXT will be followed by Phase Three on August 29, 2021 — impacting an additional 11 routes.