Wheels on the Bus

Strategies for speeding up our local transit system.

If you take the Public Policy Forum’s word for it, the Milwaukee County Transit System is lagging behind other top-flight transit systems in implementing some ingenious new strategies. MCTS will be taking a closer look at these, the cutting edge, according to Brian Dranzik, the county transportation commissioner.

Bus stop spacing ➡ Fewer stops means less, well, stopping and shorter connections. According to PPF, 30 percent of county bus stops could be removed without leaving any spaced farther than a quarter-mile apart. A simple but not necessarily easy fix, says Dranzik. “Anytime you’re taking away a stop, you’re potentially affecting someone.”

Faster express routes ➡ The “express” routes are only about 10 percent quicker than standard ones. MCTS could cut back on express stops and allow these buses to live up to their name.

Special signals for buses ➡ Other transit systems allow behind-schedule buses to prolong green lights with radio signals, cutting their travel times by 5 to 10 percent. MCTS hopes to someday try out this system on a section of bustling Wisconsin Avenue.

Bus-only lanes and shoulders ➡ Some cities remove buses from already-dense urban traffic by giving them special lanes. Doing so in Milwaukee would likely impinge on street parking.

Bus Rapid Transit ➡ BRT combines the speed and high capacity of light rail with the lower costs of a bus system. It’s been proposed in Milwaukee before, but with local interstates only getting bigger and wider, Dranzik says that “It makes a lot of sense.”

‘Wheels on the Bus’ appears in the May, 2015, issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
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Aimee has a degree in journalism from Oklahoma State University and joined Milwaukee Magazine as an editorial assistant and event manager in the frosty month of January, 2014.