MCTS Announces Changes to Service in 2023 Budget

MCTS announces changes to service approved by Milwaukee County in the 2023 annual budget. These changes are due to a combination of several factors, including a projected 2025 transit funding gap and a COVID-19-induced transition to hybrid work schedules downtown which led to reduced ridership on Freeway Flyer routes.

According to a Milwaukee County Comptroller report released earlier this year, federal stimulus funds used by MCTS to maintain transit service will no longer be available in 2025. The result will be a need to increase funding to MCTS by approximately $30 million simply to maintain service. As such, MCTS has been directed to begin to reduce service to chip away at the future fiscal gap.

In addition, MCTS, like many transit agencies across the country, faces a smaller bus operator workforce despite an ongoing approach to recruiting and retaining bus drivers.

MCTS shared the following service changes and when these changes occur.

Route Eliminations:

  • Freeway Flyer Routes 40, 43, 44, 46, 48, and 49: These six routes, which have been suspended since January 2022, will be eliminated due to previously low levels of ridership. Many downtown employers have moved to hybrid work models due to COVID-19 and reduced the demand for this service. MCTS outlined these changes in a public hearing at the County Board’s Committee on Transportation and Transit earlier this year. NOTE: U-Bus Routes 40U, 44U, and 49U are not affected and will continue as scheduled.
  • Route 79 and Route 143: MCTS previously announced it will end its contract after December 31, 2022 to Waukesha County and Ozaukee County. Ozaukee County will be continuing the Ozaukee Express (143) with GoRiteway as the provider. Waukesha County is holding public hearings to consider future options for its Freeway Flyer Routes.
  • Route 137: Service will be eliminated due to previously low levels of ridership. Service has been suspended since March 2020.
  • Special bus services to Wisconsin State Fair and Brewers Games: The Cream Puff line and Brewers line will also be eliminated. Riders can take local routes to these locations.

Route Adjustments:

  • Routes 34, 88, 92: Changes to these routes begin December 4, 2022. Route 34 service frequency will be reduced to every 30 minutes (previously 20 minutes). Service frequency on Routes 88 and 92 will be reduced to approximately every 40 minutes (previously 30 minutes).
  • Route 52: Service will be modified in March 2023 due to very low ridership. Additional information will be provided next year.

Under Consideration:

Summerfest and Festival Service: Service to these events has been suspended since 2020 owing to COVID-19 induced workforce shortages. In addition, the projected 2025 funding gap has required MCTS to eliminate expenses to special events. The County Board’s Committee on Transportation and Transit shared these changes in a public hearing earlier this year.

Seasonal changes continue on a quarterly basis to improve the schedule. The winter changes take place December 4 and can be found at