By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 20, 2020 at 8:36 AM

If all goes according to plan, the streetcar's one millionth rider will step onto The Hop on Friday and that milestone will not go unmarked.

In honor of that moment, beginning at noon on Friday, Feb. 21, The Hop will distribute 5,000 "Thanks A Million" coupon books produced in partnership with Downtown businesses that each include more than $200 in offers. Collectively, the booklets, which will be distributed until supply is exhausted, represent more than $1 million in deals.

When it began service on Nov. 2, 2018, The Hop was projected to have a daily ridership of about 1,800 passengers. Instead, during the first year there were 802,541 riders, or 2,205 a day.

As of Jan. 31 there were 967,257 total rides. Projections based on these numbers suggest that the one millionth ride will take place on Friday.

"It’s incredible that we reached this historic milestone in such a short period of time, and a true testament to how Milwaukee residents and visitors have quickly embraced the streetcar as a viable and valuable transit option creating a more connected city," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement.

"These coupon books are our way of saying ‘thank you!’ to the riders who have made the system so successful and a great way for us to strengthen our partnerships with many of the great businesses along the route that contribute to the vibrancy of our city."

The businesses participating in the booklet include:

  • Brew City Brand
  • Brunch
  • Eleven Pilates Studio
  • Freshii
  • Geromove Physical Therapy
  • Grohmann Museum
  • iPrint
  • My Office
  • Oak & Shield Gaming Pub
  • P’Dia
  • Planet Bead
  • Powers Jewelry
  • The Spice House
  • Ticket King
  • Urban Milwaukee: The Store
  • Wahlburgers
  • The Wicked Hop
  • Zoup

On Thursday, The Hop announced that it plans to install a series of smart kiosks along and near the streetcar route to provide real-time arrival information as well as revenue for the system via on-screen advertising.

New York-based Smart City Media will install 35 interactive, ADA accessible kiosks, called CityPosts, which have 55-inch screens showing curated local content, including wayfinding and other information, in a variety of languages.

A rendering of how the CityPosts look. (PHOTO: Smart City Media)

The posts will have wi-fi and security cameras that tie into the Milwaukee Police Department's surveillance systems.

The posts will begin to appear in Downtown Milwaukee in spring.

"Our smart kiosk program will be a tremendous asset to the entire community and significantly enhance the streetcar experience for regular riders and visitors alike," Barrett said.

"Our vision for the streetcar has always been for it to bridge gaps between centers of activity in the city, making the people and places that make our city great more accessible and connected. This kiosk program will help us bridge the gaps between high-traffic downtown areas while generating a meaningful revenue stream to support our streetcar operations."

The city estimates that advertising on the kiosks could generate as much as $500,000 in revenue for the streetcar system each year.

City officials have said that the goal is to keep the streetcar free to ride.

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 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.