Wandke Appointed President and Managing Director of Milwaukee Transport Services, Inc.


Today, Donna Brown-Martin, Director of the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation, announced the appointment of Denise Wandke as President and Managing Director of Milwaukee Transport Services, Inc. that operates the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS).

“Denise Wandke has risen to the many challenges facing public transit. She successfully led negotiations for a new bus operator contract, has effectively collaborated with the County Board and is currently navigating the fiscal budget crisis. I am pleased that Denise has accepted this opportunity because she is the best person to be at the helm in this moment,” said Brown-Martin.

In her former role as President and Interim Managing Director of MCTS, Wandke oversaw the success of close to 16 million rides across 18 municipalities throughout Milwaukee County last year. In her 30-year career at MCTS, she’s held leadership positions in nearly every mission-critical part of operations, rising from bus operator to Instructor, Route Supervisor, Dispatcher, and Station Manager. As the Director of Transportation at MCTS, she led a team that included more than 800 Bus Operators, Route Supervisors, Transit Security Officers, Dispatchers, Trainers, and Station Supervisors and support staff. She became the first woman to serve as Deputy Director of MCTS in the 50-year history of the organization.

As the head of MCTS, Wandke collaborates with Milwaukee County leadership including the County Executive, County Board of Supervisors and the Director of the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation, and local and state elected officials, to ensure Milwaukee County maintains a strong transit system to support the largest economy in the state. She is shepherding the modernization of public transit, from a new regional fare collection system called WisGo to the launch of Wisconsin’s first Bus Rapid Transit line, MCTS CONNECT. She is advocating for a long-term funding solution to public transit’s fiscal cliff, a $26.5 million budget shortfall in 2025, a cut that could reduce service for half of all routes in the system.

“I have the utmost confidence in the appointment of Denise Wandke as President and Managing Director of MCTS. Denise’s experience and leadership within MCTS spans three decades, and she’s worked in some of the most important positions related to transit operations,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “Her experience comes with an innate ability to understand how to lead a public transit organization to meet the needs of a diverse, ever-changing community while directing and inspiring an engaged workforce. Milwaukee County is lucky to have her on our team.”

Wandke first joined the company as a bus operator in 1994. Throughout her career, her focus has always been on MCTS Excellence – how bus operators go above and beyond to take care of our riders. She’s recognized for initiating new programs that boost the well-being of bus drivers, starting with the Operator Reconnect Program, the Operator Mentoring Program, and her efforts to earn a $1 million grant for the Red Kite Program, all designed to help drivers cope with the mental health, poverty and crime issues they observe in their vital role as the eyes and ears of the Milwaukee County community.

Wandke is a member of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Wisconsin Public Transportation Association (WIPTA). She is a lifelong resident of Milwaukee County.