Although the Big Gig opening-night fireworks have been rescheduled for Thursday night, the world's largest music festival officially got underway today. And with Summerfest’s kickoff comes a slew of decisions for fest goers: What bands should I see? How much fried food is too much? Have jorts or Zubaz come back in fashion? (The answer is always no for that last one.) But the decision that can drastically change a life is how to get home safely. Never fear, dear reader. Our Summerfest transportation guide will ensure you (and your jorts) get home safe and sound.
Milwaukee County Transit System
> Freeway Flyer Service: Park for free at any of these lots throughout Milwaukee County and the Freeway Flyer Service will take you to the Summerfest Mid Gate for $6.50 roundtrip for adults and $3 for children. It runs every 15-30 minutes from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
> Downtown Park and Shuttle Program: A shuttle service that operates in this downtown vicinity and takes you to the North Gate for just $1 roundtrip. It runs every 7 to 10 minutes from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
> Ozaukee County Express: Provides service from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. daily, starting at the Saukville Wal-Mart (Hwy 33/Green Bay Ave.). The bus departs 13 minutes later from the Target/Home Depot (Hwy 60) in Grafton and costs $7 for adults and $3.50 for children.
East Side bar shuttles
Catch a free shuttle from Hooligan’s, BBC, Hotel Foster, Nomad, Hi-Hat/Garage, Club Brady and Vitucci’s to the Summerfest South Gate. You have to be 21 to ride. Call Hooligans at 414-273-5230 for more information.
Other bars providing shuttles
> Paulie's Pub and Eatery, 8031 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis (414) 257-2854
> Brass Monkey Pub & Grill, 11904 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis (414) 476-6099
> Highbury, 2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. (414) 294-4400
> Karma, 600 E. Ogden Ave. (414) 220-4118
> O'Lydias, 338 S. 1st St. (414) 271-7546
> Frank's Power Plant, 2800 S. Kinnickinnic Ave (414) 481-9200
> Stubby's, 2060 N. Humboldt Ave. (414) 763-6324
> Studio Lounge, 2246 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. (414) 489-7474
> Tonic Tavern, 2335 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. (414) 455-3205
> Transfer Pizzeria Cafe, 101 W. Mitchell St. (414) 763-0438
Wisconsin Coach Lines/Coach USA Milwaukee
> Waukesha Service: The shuttle starts from the Nagawaukee Park-Ride in Delafield (Hwy 83 and I-94). Other pick-ups include the Meadowbrook Park-Ride lot (I-94 and County Highway G) and Goerke’s Corners Park-Ride lot (I-94 and Barker Road). It operates from 11 a.m. from 12:15 a.m. and costs $10 for adults, $5 for children. Call 262-542-8861 or visit WisconsinCoach.comfor more information.
> Racine/Kenosha Service: Wisconsin Coach Lines offers seven weekday trips and four weekend/holiday trips per day. Call (262) 542-8861 or visit WisconsinCoach.com for route and fare information.
Cream City Rickshaw: If you’re looking to avoid the crowded buses after the fest, watch out for Cream City Rickshaw’s bright green pedicabs for a quick ride home. They ride from Riverwest to Walker’s Point and east of the freeway. Each pedicab can fit three people and relies entirely on tips. Call 414-272-RIDE or try to flag down one of the 40 active drivers.
Summerfest’s Get Around Guide
Summerfest provides a pamphlet with maps and clear instructions for each transportation option.
Uber or Lyft
> Uber: If you’ve never used Uber before, you can get down to Summerfest for free. Just enter the code MKESummerfest when you download the app and you’ll receive $20 off your first trip. Uber is also getting directly involved in the fest by holding a competition called “Land the Big Gig,” which puts three bands head-to-head for a chance to win $20,000 and perform live at Summerfest.
> Lyft: If you prefer the pink mustache, Lyft is offering a similar promotion. New users can input the code SUMMERFEST to unlock free ride credits to use toward the fest.
While Uber and Lyft are solid options for getting home safely from Summerfest, their legal legitimacy has been questioned by the Common Council.
The Council debated an amendment Tuesday that would require Uber and Lyft to follow the same licensing and background regulations as other taxicab companies. After heated arguments among several aldermen, the council ultimately voted to delay the decision on the amendment until their next meeting in July.
“We embrace the city’s thoughtful approach to review and streamline the process to allow for ridesharing drivers and services to continue to operate in Milwaukee,” says Nick Anderson, Uber Milwaukee’s general manager.
Although city officials say Uber and Lyft are technically operating illegally, police have not ticketed drivers. Uber launched in Milwaukee in late February; Lyft launched in mid March.
Ald. Bob Bauman is the main proponent of the proposed amendment and urged the council to “modify laws to embrace this new technology.” He argued that the ordinance would create an equal playing field for incumbent and emerging public passenger drivers by setting three basic requirements:
- Obtaining a passenger license requiring a city-mandated background check
- Going through a vehicle inspection by the Milwaukee Department of Public Works
- Providing proof of insurance
The amendment would also lift the cap on the number of taxicab permits in the city.
Ald. Ashanti Hamilton led the debate for delaying action on the ordinance, arguing it could improve with more discussion. Aldermen Willie Wade, Milele Coggs and Terry Witkowski also supported the delay.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the city to ensure Uber is able serve the residents of Milwaukee and that all consumers can continue to benefit from expanded transportation options,” Anderson says.