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Milwaukee County buses filling up amid gas price spike

16 Jun 2022 8:34 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

With gas prices hitting record highs some are already turning to mass transit to save money.

"They're kind of rediscovering it in the moment," said Kristina Hoffman, the communications manager for the Milwaukee County transit system. "And reconsidering their lifestyle."

It isn't hard to see why. With gas prices topping $5 per gallon, the Milwaukee County Transit System is seeing its highest ridership of the year.

"This time of year, ridership normally starts to take a drop because we're coming into summer, schools not in session, colleges aren't in session, so it's a natural drop for us," Hoffman said. "But we're seeing a big increase."

So far it's a 14% increase since the fall and it's not done rising.

"You cannot sustain," said Justin Biddle, a Milwaukee County commuter. "Keep driving to work, paying $80 a week with gas prices like they currently are. It's unheard of."

Amtrak is now offering itself as a way to beat high gas prices, especially for commuters between Chicago and Milwaukee.

But for most, mass transit means the bus. The surge is even rekindling the possibility of reviving perhaps the most advantageous routes for commuters, the Freeway Flyers. The service was suspended in January for a lack of staffing.

"I think that's another thing we can look at," said Hoffman. "If more people are returning to transit, if they're looking at changing their lifestyle, and saying 'hey, the bus is a better choice,' then absolutely we'll look at that."

So exactly how much are you saving with mass transit? Right now a $5 pass gets 24 hours of rides on county buses.

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