By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 21, 2022 at 8:27 AM

Due to a projected 2025 funding gap and the continuing trend of remote work, the County Board recently approved service changes to Milwaukee County Transit System in the 2023 budget.

The changes include, among others, the elimination of freeway flyer routes, lines connecting to Waukesha and Ozaukee County, continued suspension of service to Summerfest and other lakefront festivals, and the end of special routes to Brewers games and State Fair.

"According to a Milwaukee County Comptroller report released earlier this year, federal stimulus funds used by MCTS to maintain transit service will no longer by available in 2025," MCTS noted in a press release Monday.

"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."

MCTS said it is also struggling to recruit and retain drivers.

Here are the changes approved in the 2023 annual budget, with explanations provided by MCTS:

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 Dec. 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 RideMCTS.com/ServiceChanges.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.