Milwaukee County evaluating Bus Rapid Transit feasibility

At the direction of Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele, the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation is evaluating the use of Bus Rapid Transit service to connect downtown Milwaukee to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.

Bus Rapid Transit is a quicker route to a destination that is further away, allowing for travel times similar to driving. BRT systems usually include a dedicated right of way, intersection treatments like traffic signal priority, branded stations, off board fare collection, platform level boarding, longer articulated buses and other amenities aimed at driving faster service, according to Abele’s office.

The route from downtown Milwaukee to the Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa would connect two of the area’s largest job centers, stopping at other key neighborhoods along the way. The route, which would be woven into the existing Milwaukee County Transit System fixed-route service network, could also include stops at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, MillerCoors and Harley-Davidson.

According to the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum, there are just nine BRT systems in use nationwide.

“Since taking office, we’ve worked hard to stabilize our transit system by adding more than a million new route miles and holding fares flat, all while facing significant fiscal challenges,” Abele said. “We’ve heard from the community and we are now taking the next step. Transit is economic development, and a well-designed BRT system will efficiently and affordably connect more people to more jobs while helping create a climate that attracts new businesses and new workers to Milwaukee.”

The Department of Transportation will work with several jurisdictions to create preliminary designs and calculate estimated costs using guidelines from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, as well as the cost sharing among private, federal, state and local stakeholders.

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