Milwaukee County Transit System Celebrates Arrival of First Battery Electric Bus

The first MCTS Connect bus.
The first MCTS Connect battery electric bus.
This article was originally posted on on November 10, 2022.

MILWAUKEE (November 10, 2022) — A state-of-the-art bus and new brand for Milwaukee County transit is coming to light tonight. The first of MCTS’s all-electric vehicles will be unveiled at a special celebration on Wisconsin Avenue at the heart of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route.

The new BRT brand is called “MCTS CONNECT,” specifically designed for the battery electric buses (BEBs) used on this BRT route. The BEBs feature a sleek new look to highlight their advanced technology. The light blue color scheme is a natural extension of the existing MCTS blue, and a larger than life “C” logo and the phrase “Clean Energy. Clean Air.” further distinguishes the brand. The name CONNECT fits MCTS’s mission to connect the community to jobs, education and life via essential transit services. The graphic elements connote rapid movement, and the reflective decals are eye-catching at night.

Attendees will get to hear guest performances by DJ Shawna, who has deep roots in Milwaukee as the official DJ of the Milwaukee Bucks, watch local dance groups perform, and listen to comments by the industry executives who led the BEB development.

MCTS Interim President and Managing Director Denise Wandke, who began her career at MCTS 29 years ago as a bus operator, cites the collaboration across local, regional and national levels needed to bring electrification to the MCTS fleet and reach this milestone with the BRT. “The quest to bring the East-West Bus Rapid Transit System to Milwaukee began years ago. Many stakeholders played a vital role in making the idea a reality for our community,” said Wandke. “We can’t wait to share the fruits of all this labor when CONNECT begins next year.”

Maintenance Director Ron McCorkel, who began his MCTS career as a bus operator 31-years ago, led the vendor selection and manufacturing process. “We put thousands of hours into the project, really challenging ourselves to give riders a great experience,” said McCorkel. “This has been a very exciting project for everyone involved, both inside and outside of MCTS.”

Speakers tonight will include:

  • Emcee DJ Shawna, Milwaukee Bucks Official DJ
  • Denise Wandke, MCTS Interim President and Managing Director
  • Ron McCorkel, MCTS Director of Maintenance
  • Martin Larose, Nova Bus President
  • Rob Dykema, BAE Systems, Senior Director, Transit Bus
  • Pat Hayes, Director US Transit & Bus Charging Solutions/ABB E-Mobility Inc.
  • Kristina Hoffman, MCTS Director of Marketing
  • And special performances by local dance companies


Special Branding on BRT Service: MCTS CONNECT

MCTS Marketing Director Kristina Hoffman describes the rationale behind the branding of the BRT. “For us, the word “connect” means community and togetherness. The bus is an integral part of Milwaukee – you can’t think of one without the other. And the look of the BEB is so new and interesting; it truly invites people to ride,” she said. “I can’t believe we successfully kept this design under wraps for two years. It’s so exciting to finally get to share CONNECT with our riders.”


The CONNECT Rider Experience 

The buses are zero emission which will improve air quality. The first 11 BEBs will reduce fossil fuel (diesel) utilization by more than 67K gallons annually. By the fall of 2023, four more BEBs will arrive, bringing the total fleet to 15.

Each bus is so silent that chimes will ring as the bus nears a stop so that riders with visual impairments will know the bus is arriving. A Quantum system on each bus assists with mobility devices in a more convenient way. Wider doors and a wider aisle give passengers more space to enter and exit the bus. USB charging ports are at each seat location.

Passenger service along CONNECT is scheduled to begin June 2023. Fares will be the same as they are across MCTS. Before the service launches, bus operators, route supervisors, mechanics, and dispatchers will undergo a total of 5,100 hours of training to prepare for riders.

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Editor’s Note: See MCTS Media Center for MP4 video and still photos of Milwaukee County’s first BEB following tonight’s event.