Multi-million dollar BRT project proposal approved by Milwaukee city committee.

bus passing fast on bridge

A Milwaukee city committee approved the Bus Rapid Transit project proposal on Monday after a long hearing that included discussions and questions on the same day. The result was a 3-1 vote in favor of the project proposal, but this is only the first step.

Urban Milwaukee Reported:

The project, which would be 80 percent federally funded, would cost between $42-to-$48 million depending on the number of dedicated lanes set aside for the system. Substantial ridership gains in the corridor, upwards of 30 percent, are estimated for the project, but Ald. Michael Murphy asked a number of questions about the projections that weren’t able to be answered. The route would run through Murphy and Bauman’s aldermanic districts.

Gains in ridership are expected to come from high frequency of services (every 10 minutes on weekdays, five minutes during rush hours), fewer stops and off-bus ticketing leading to reduced travel time, better stations than traditional bus shelters and improved vehicles that would cost upwards of $1 million each. The corridor, which Meyers called “the spine of the transit system,” would have considerable benefit for its residents: 23 percent of those living within a half-mile of the route lack an automobile in their household, far above the county average, statistics show. Along the route are major employment and job centers including Downtown (81,000 jobs, 25,000 residents), Near West Side (40,000 residents, 30,000 jobs) and Milwaukee Regional Medical Center (16,000 jobs, 30,000 daily visitors).

Public testimony, which included over 20 members of the community, was roughly three-to-one in favor of the project. Neighbors along the western portion of the route expressed concerns over the location of stations, and some residents in the corridor spoke in opposition to BRT.

The project was ultimately approved on a three-to-one vote, with alderman Borkowski voting against the project without any discussion. Committee members Jim Boh, Nik Kovac and Bauman voted in favor of the project. Alderman Bob Donovan, who remarked earlier in the meeting “it’s been a long time since I’ve rode the bus” was absent for the vote and the remainder of the meeting.

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