The Milwaukee County Transit System recently received $12.7 million in federal funds to establish a pair of express bus routes and will be able to use $6.4 million in federal funds, previously allocated for bus rapid transit, to establish a third express bus route.
The express bus routes will begin service on Jan. 29, said MCTS spokeswoman Jacqueline Janz. One route will run from Bayshore Town Center in Glendale through the East Side and downtown Milwaukee to Mitchell International Airport. Another route will run along Capitol Drive from North 124th Street to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. The third route will run from Park Place on the far northwest side along Fond du Lac Ave. through downtown to National Avenue and then along National to 70th Street in West Allis.
MCTS will use its existing bus fleet for the express bus routes. The express bus routes will have fewer stops with a stop about every half mile instead of a typical bus route with stops every two blocks, Janz said.
The federal funding for the express bus routes will be used to cover operating costs for the routes, Janz said.
This year the state cut $7 million from MCTS, and county officials considered plans to cut 20 routes, she said. However, county officials instead applied for federal funds to establish new express routes and will eliminate some local routes along the express lines. The federal funds can only be used to establish a new transit service, Janz said.
MCTS had express bus routes that were eliminated due to previous funding shortages, she said.
MCTS officials expect the express routes to be popular with commuters going to and from work.
“We are trying to maintain access to job corridors and make sure people have rides to where they need to go,” Janz said. “It’s much easier for people to get to their job when it’s a quicker service. Hopefully we gain riders that we lost in the past.”