County Board approves Bus Rapid Transit proposal

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jul 28, 2016

The Milwaukee County Board on Thursday voted 14-1 to approve a proposal to connect Downtown Milwaukee with the Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa using a Bus Rapid Transit Route.

According to the county, BRT could increase ridership on metro transit and ease road congestion in one of the busiest corridors of the state.

BRT vehicles would at times operate in their own lane of traffic. They make fewer stops than a regular metro bus.

People against the idea think it will simply force the traffic into fewer lanes. They're also not convinced commuters will actually abandon their personal vehicles to ride the bus.

The BRT system would cost an estimated $45 million.

With the county board's approval, Milwaukee County Transit can now apply for $36 million in federal grant money to put towards the proposal.

The Milwaukee Common Council and Wauwatosa Common Council both previously approved the plan.

Should the grant be approved, the county would chip in $9 million, with $1,225,000 coming from money previously allocated for transit capital needs.

Also on Thursday, the County Board voted 11-4 to approve guidelines and fees for Transportation Network Companies, like Uber and Lyft, operating at General Mitchell International Airport.

Uber and Lyft drivers currently running at the airport are doing so as part of a pilot program. But the state statute regulating such companies allows airports to require a permit and a fee for operation.

Under the policy passed Thursday, TNC drivers will pay a $125 fee, per vehicle, to operate at the airport each year. They'll also pay $3.00 for each passenger pick up. County board supervisors in favor of the plan said the same fees will apply to limousine and taxi drivers, in an effort to level the playing field.