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Waukesha-Milwaukee bus line, Bluemound route enhancement proposed

17 Apr 2023 9:00 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

There could eventually be a direct bus link from downtown Waukesha to places like the lakefront or Summerfest in one transfer. Buses could use dedicated lanes that would get travelers to their destinations faster.

Ike Wanters lives in Milwaukee and works in Waukesha. He said his commute  – "an hour and 45 minutes" – takes up most of his day. He's one of an estimated 1,400 daily riders who take Waukesha Metro buses.

"We used to have more commuter service from folks coming from Waukesha County, going to downtown Milwaukee," said Allison Bussler, Waukesha County Public Works director. However, some of those folks are working from home now."

Bussler said ridership levels haven't fully rebounded since the COVID-19 pandemic. She's excited by the prospect of Waukesha County connecting with an innovative bus rapid transit line – BRT for short. It launches in neighboring Milwaukee County this June.

"It’s more frequent and faster service," said Donna Brown-Martin, Milwaukee County Department of Transportation director. "The frequency of that service allows us to give headways in the 10-15 minute range."

The Milwaukee County Transit System line will have stops near the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and get commuters to downtown Milwaukee on electric buses. A proposal could see an enhanced route added from the Waukesha Metro Transit Center to connect with the MCTS line that extends east to the lakefront.

"It just makes sense to look at that link – should we continue that service on down Bluemound – because we already have some features in place for bus rapid transit, like a dedicated transit lane has been on Bluemound for a long time already," said Bussler.

Bluemound is the county's most frequented stop for public transportation, Bussler said. Getting people through the corridor faster could help solve another issue.

"We really have a worker shortage in Waukesha County. We’ve heard that from our businesses, and they’ve asked for any assistance in helping to get people who need jobs to the job openings in Waukesha County," said Bussler.

Riders like Michelle Shulfer said they're onboard: "It would be a lot easier if there was a bus going down into Milwaukee."

The public's feedback could bring faster, more frequent service. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission is hosting a virtual meeting Wednesday, April 12. Officials are looking for feedback not just on routes, but on things like bus stop lighting and Wi-Fi access.

Wisconsin Public Transportation Association

1502 W Broadway, Suite 102

Monona, WI 53713

(224) 357-6748

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