Downtown Milwaukee’s streetcar officially began passenger service today.
The highly anticipated launch comes after over a decade of debate and political controversy around how the public transportation system, named The Hop, would be funded, and how often it would be utilized.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a major longtime supporter of the $124 million streetcar project, recently called it “a shot in the arm” for the city, saying it is just one part of a “larger picture” of new development throughout the downtown area.
Barrett commemorated this milestone today at the streetcar’s “Grand Hop-ening” kick-off event at Cathedral Square Park. He was joined by U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Federal Transit Administration officials, Common Council members and Potawatomi Hotel & Casino CEO Rodney Ferguson to watch the streetcar open its doors to the public.
Rides on The Hop will be free for the first year of operation thanks to a $10 million, 12-year naming sponsorship deal with Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Starting today, passengers can wait for the vehicles at one of the 18 stations along the M-Line every 10 to 15 minutes. The L-Line, which will service destinations along the lakefront, is slated to open in 2020.
It will operate Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 7 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Grand opening festivities will continue throughout the weekend. See a full list of “Grand Hop-ening” events here.