Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Bus rapid transit, or BRT, is an increasingly popular approach to deliver enhanced public transportation services in communities seeking cost-effective ways to reduce traffic congestion, improve mobility and increase transit ridership. BRT features unique branding, specialized vehicles and improved transit stations to enhance the transit experience for riders. Technology improvements include real-time arrival signs at stations, and they may include road features such as traffic signal priority and queue-jumps at busy intersections to help buses increase reliability and maintain schedules. Buses may also operate in exclusive transit lanes.
East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is Milwaukee County’s planned 9-mile, regional, modern transit service connecting major employment, education and recreation destinations through downtown Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s Near West Side, Marquette University, Wauwatosa and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. BRT would provide improved access to the region’s most vital, most traveled and most congested corridor.
- Up to 17 stations connect a regional network of major employment centers, education facilities and recreational destinations.
- Modern, battery-electric buses provide a quiet, comfortable and sustainable vehicle with features for easy boarding and interior bike storage.
The East-West BRT is to average more than 9,500 weekday riders by 2035 and increase overall transit ridership in the corridor by 17 percent. Ridership will be fueled by activity generators within the half-mile station area around the route including:
- 9 colleges and universities, and 8 high schools
- 47,000 residents
- 120,000 jobs
- 100+ businesses with 250 or more employees
- 7 medical facilities
- 25 hotels
- Countless attractions including the county zoo, American Family Field, Fiserv Forum, art museum and Summerfest
Construction will begin in mid-2021 and is anticipated to be complete by late-2022.
No permanent property acquisitions are required for this project. The Project has worked with property owners and acquired 33 temporary limited easements (TLE) required to complete construction for the project.
Some lane and sidewalk closures are anticipated during construction. Alternate routes will be posted to get around the closures.
Utility outages are not anticipated during the construction of the BRT. Should the need for any service outages arise, residents and businesses in the affected area will be contacted in advance.
The most up-to-date information on the East-West Bus Rapid Transit construction can be found on the homepage of this website. You may also follow the project on Facebook or twitter. If you have specific questions at any time, please contact the project team at email@example.com.
Service is anticipated to begin in 2023.
Milwaukee County, in coordination with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), completed an environmental assessment, or EA, for the East-West BRT Project, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The EA evaluated the BRT alternative's benefits and impacts, covering topics including noise, air quality, historic resources, traffic, communities and neighborhoods, environmental justice, land use and economics. On Nov. 29, 2018, the FTA issued the project a Finding of No Significant Impact, which allowed the project to proceed to the final design and construction phases.
BRT will be fully integrated into MCTS, and the cost to ride BRT will be the same as the cost to ride other MCTS services. Currently, an adult MCTS fare is $2 per ride using an M•CARD or the Ride MCTS app, and $2.25 if paid in cash. The BRT system will also accept MCTS daily, weekly and monthly bus passes.
BRT bus drivers are trained to never go faster than the legal speed limit. The "rapid" in "bus rapid transit" refers to the travel time savings realized by BRT service features that make travel more efficient compared with normal bus service. The full 9-mile East-West BRT route is expected to take less than 40 minutes, a travel time-savings of up to 8 minutes compared with existing bus service.
A recent report released by the American Public Transit Association states that BRT transit is 10 times safer than car travel. In addition, many experts believe adding bus service makes neighborhoods safer by taking cars off the road; plus, BRT features calm traffic and increase driver awareness. Exclusive transit lanes reduce weaving and cars won’t get stuck behind idling buses. Enhanced boarding stations provide lighting to make safer, more visible locations. They also remind motorists to watch for buses and passengers getting on and off at the stations.
One of the main purposes of implementing BRT is to improve the reliability and frequency of the system so more people want to use transit. During morning and afternoon commutes, BRT service would run every 10 minutes, meaning you would never have to wait long to catch a ride. Other BRT features such as pre-board ticketing, transit-only lanes and transit-signal priority at busy intersections will also add to an improved transit experience. One more plus: You won’t need to pay for parking!
BRT is used successfully in hundreds of cities worldwide and dozens more are under construction across the country. Cities similar in size to Milwaukee that have BRT operations include Kansas City, Missouri; Jacksonville, Florida; San Antonio and El Paso in Texas; and Cincinnati and Cleveland in Ohio.
Passengers can quickly transfer from the BRT to any local route using the same existing regular fare structure! This is a premium service at a regular fare price.
BRT will effectively replace the Goldline, taking the busiest portion of that local route and elevating it to a premium, high-frequency service. It will then serve as a rapid connector to local north-south and downtown routes, creating a robust spine for the transit corridor. The east side portion of the retired Gold will be supported by robust service on the Local 30. To the west, the retired Gold to Brookfield Square will be bridged by an extension of Waukesha Metro to the MRMC. MCTS is working towards a seamless transition from the Gold to BRT late 2022.
While 2022 is the year for premium-amenity BRT service, many local routes are also seeing improved frequencies this year in 2021. This is thanks to MCTS NEXT, a cost-neutral system-wide redesign of the MCTS map (https://www.ridemcts.com/programs/mcts-next). Through in-depth analysis and public input, MCTS was able to determine where ridership and need was greatest, and right-size the grid to have service fit that need: adding buses to high-ridership corridors, and in other corridors extending lines to new destinations—and all with the goal of providing wide-spread coverage to jobs, schools, medical centers and places of interest. It is as frequent as the system can achieve without investment in BRT, and fittingly, it lays the groundwork for the E-W BRT to provide a robust connecting line.