As a Millennial Milwaukeean, I’m required to support public transportation options for the city, and by extension upset every suburban politician out there. Thank goodness I don’t have enough readership (YET) for comment trolls.
I do actively support the existing bus system (it is, after all, our other set of wheels), as I live along a main line and use it as often as I can. While the initial route may seem a bit stunted, I’m confident the upcoming streetcar will be popular enough for more meaningful expansion lines to be funded. Any step towards less cars and more urban density is a positive in my self-published book.
While the hoopla in City Hall has surrounded the streetcar in recent years, another complementary option has been quietly gaining bipartisan support: a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
With a brand new website specifically designed to promote this feasibility study, MCTS is trying to hammer home what I think is the main positive difference between this BRT starter system and the streetcar starter route: connecting existing workers to existing jobs.
Traveling from the lakefront all the way to the Wauwatosa medical center would take only 35 minutes, with much (eventually all) of the route being in a dedicated BRT lane. For our automobile addicts: of course a car could make the same direct trip in half the time (unless the Zoo Interchange is under construction forever), but you’re missing the point. As MCTS points out, 23% of residents in a few-block radius of the proposed stops do not have a car. If your choice is walking, biking, or riding the BRT, the bus might as well be a rocket.
Besides the tens of thousands of jobs (not to mention healthcare options) at the medical center, the bus ends near the new Milwaukee County Research Park. As someone who both works at one of the many technology-focused companies in that space and lives near downtown, I can attest to the presence of good paying, stable jobs that are under-served when it comes to public transport options from the inner city.
The plan is not a done-deal, as the proposals for federal funding will be submitted later this year. But a solid route with realistic benefits and a proven technology are already a great start. Get ready to switch out the Mmmbop for MmmBRT.