By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Apr 25, 2023 at 6:11 PM Photography: Bobby Tanzilo

Summerfest has something for everyone – on its stages, off its stages and en route to its stages, as the Big Gig today announced several Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) transportation options for this year's three-weekend fest. 

Today's announcement marks MCTS's return to supplying shuttle services to Summerfest for the first time since 2019. The festival was canceled entirely in 2020 due to COVID-19, but in the following two years, while the Big Gig returned, MCTS canceled its usual Summerfest shuttle services due to driver shortages. 

“Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. (MWF) is thrilled to partner with Milwaukee County Transit System to provide mass transit service for the 55th anniversary of Summerfest, said Don Smiley, CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., in a release. "MWF is grateful to Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson, Milwaukee County Department of Transportation Director Donna Brown-Martin, MCTS President and Interim Managing Director Denise Wandke and many individuals across Milwaukee County who were instrumental in putting this plan together. The combined efforts of this group to find MCTS transit options for 2023 demonstrates Milwaukee County’s long-standing commitment to Summerfest. We encourage our fans to ride the bus to Summerfest, which offers a convenient and direct route to the festival grounds."

The first MCTS transportation option for 2023 is the return of its specific Summerfest shuttles. While not the full fleet of past years, MCTS will offer two shuttles – one from the College Avenue park-and-ride, another from the Brown Deer park-and-ride – running to the Summerfest midgate entrance. Those shuttles will begin at 11:30 a.m., running approximately every 30 minutes with the final bus taking off from the Summerfest grounds at 12:30 a.m. The cashless shuttles will cost $10 round-trip for those ages 12 and older and $5 for seniors 65 and older as well as children 11 and younger. For additional information on discounts, payment options and more, visit Summerfest's website

A second option is MCTS's CONNECT 1 BRT line, which will travel from the Watertown Plank Road park-and-ride to the Downtown corner of Wisconsin and Van Buren, just a few blocks away from the north entrance of Summerfest. The bus will run from 4:35 a.m. until 1:39 a.m. on weekdays and from 4:45 a.m. until 2:15 a.m. on Saturdays, with a 90-minute fare costing $2 for riders ages 12 and older and $1 for kids, seniors 65 and older, and people with disabilities. 

In addition to those shuttle options, Summerfest also recommends several of MCTS's regular service routes – namely the GreenLine, Route 15, Route 18 and Route 30, which include stops throughout the city and drop-off locations near Henry Maier Festival Park. As with the CONNECT 1 BRT line, rides cost $2 for 90 minutes and $1 for kids under 12, seniors 65 and over and those with disabilities. For specific route schedules and locations, visit either Summerfest's website or MCTS's Big Gig page.

“We hear from the community all the time that it wouldn’t be Summerfest without MCTS,” said MCTS President and Interim Managing Director Denise Wandke, in the release. "Thank you everyone, for including us in your plans. We hope you’ll start a new tradition this year, by adding CONNECT to your Summerfest memories. And send us some pictures, we’d love to see them!"

For specific suggestions, Summerfest and MCTS provided the following guidance for choosing one's best Big Gig shuttle options:

  • From the north – Brown Deer shuttle, the GreenLine or Route 15
  • From the south – College Avenue shuttle, the GreenLine, Route 15 or Route 18
  • From the west – CONNECT 1 BRT, Route 18 or Route 30
  • From Downtown – CONNECT 1 BRT, the GreenLine, Route 15, Route 18 or Route 30

For more information and transportation help, visit Summerfest's website. And for who to see, when and where, when you actually arrive at the Big Gig, check out the current full festival lineup and schedule right here – with a few more updates yet to come, so stay tuned to OnMilwaukee. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.