Log in

Ozaukee County Public Works Committee to discuss future of Express Service

11 Mar 2024 11:10 AM | WIPTA Admin (Administrator)

OZAUKEE COUNTY — The Ozaukee County Public Works Committee on Thursday will discuss whether it will recommend terminating the Ozaukee County Express Service to the County Board.

The Ozaukee County Express provides county residents working in Milwaukee County a fixed-route service between Ozaukee County and downtown Milwaukee during peak commuter hours.

The committee did consider terminating the bus service last year, but in November it agreed to postpone a decision for 90 days until February to collect more data after a number of riders expressed their support for it.

"In talking with other riders, we really do feel that this is a very valuable service to all of us," said rider Jill Haupt of Grafton during a public hearing about the bus service in November. "I just think that it would really be a travesty to take this service away from us."

Ridership in October did double from September; riders and some county supervisors partially credited the closure of the Washington County’s Commuter Express after Sept. 29.

Ozaukee County Transit Superintendent Kara Ottum told the committee that there has been a downward trajectory in ridership prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the county’s data on transit ridership, 2023 monthly ridership numbers are roughly 85% lower than 2019. When compared to 2022, 2023 shows a continued decline in ridership each month at approximately 50% since June.

The data showed that there were 449 passengers on the OCE in September, which in comparison is down by 51.2% from 2022 and 89.2% from 2019.

There were 833 riders in October, though in comparison it's down by 20.1% from 2022 and down by 82.8% from 2019. The low number, according to county officials, could be attributed to the closure of the CTH C Park & Ride, which closed due to I-43 construction in April of 2023 and showed a reduction of ridership from March to April in 2023. The CTH C Park & Ride reopened in December.

Ridership decreased in November and December of 2023 to 730 and 713 riders, respectively. Ridership in November was down by 22.4% from November 2022 but ridership in December was up by 6.3% from December 2022.

The net cost per ride, which is the cost after fares, has also significantly increased over the years.

In 2010, the then net cost per ride was $8.04, while in September 2023 was $87.64, according to ridership data. However, the net cost per ride went down to $50.86 in October.

The net cost per ride increased in November and December to $55.93 and $56.13, respectively.

Ozaukee County has funding through COVID-19 relief funds to run the bus without the county levy through the end of 2024, according to the agenda information provided to the committee. Eliminating the bus service would provide more COVID relief funds to be used for the Shared Ride Taxi.

However, eliminating the OCE would trigger a higher hourly rate for the Shared Ride Taxi, which would cost approximately $120,000 more per year, but only about $40,000 of levy after grants and ridership fares. The additional levy wouldn’t be required until complete exhaustion of the COVID relief funds, which the county anticipates extending into 2025 with Shared Ride Taxi service only.

If OCE is eliminated, the following are other commuter options for Ozaukee County residents:

- Wisconsin RIDESHARE: Connects commuters with carpool or Bike Buddy. Most commuter bus users have access to a car. This program connects commuters to share the costs. This is the only alternative that provides service to downtown Milwaukee employment sites without a transfer.

- Shared Ride Taxi to Milwaukee County Transit Services: Ozaukee Shared Ride connects to the Milwaukee County Transit system at three locations along Brown Deer Road. Multiple transfers may be needed to get to downtown Milwaukee.

The Public Works Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Thursday in the meeting room inside the Ozaukee County Highway Department, 410 S. Spring St. in Port Washington.

Find the full article here.

Wisconsin Public Transportation Association

1502 W Broadway, Suite 102

Monona, WI 53713

(224) 357-6748

Proud Members of:

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software