MCTS JobLines bus routes in jeopardy as funding dwindles

For four years now, JobLines has been connecting thousands of Milwaukee workers to jobs in Waukesha County.

But time is ticking soon and the future of commutes to the suburbs may be uncertain as the multi-million dollar funding to maintain the bus routes will be gone by December.

Riders say if JobLines funding ends, they may possibly have to quit their jobs in the suburbs.

JobLines bus routes were created in 2014 after a settlement was awarded from a lawsuit filed by MICAH, or the Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope and the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin. The ACLU also helped out.

The organizations successfully argued that the state Department of Transportation discriminated against minorities in the Zoo Interchange project by not including improvements to public transportation.

Naomi Hamilton is a rider and uses the 61 Bus to go to Menomonee Falls for her job at Walmart.

"It’s very convenient,” said Hamilton. “I’ve been taking the Milwaukee bus for three years. I take it every other day to work.”

It’s one of two JobLines bus routes offered by MCTS.

Money from the lawsuit has been used to fund the routes for the past four years. Unless the county finds $2.8 million the routes won’t keep going.

Hamilton says that could cost her job. 

“It’ll be tough for us,” she said.

Reverend Marilyn Miller with MICAH says her organization has been working to keep the routes going.

“How do we maintain right these bus lines, how do we dream of something even bigger and better for all of us,” Miller said.

According to MCTS Route 6, about 30 people a day take the bus to jobs in New Berlin.

Route 61 to Menomonee Falls averages 214 passengers a day. That’s less than most other bus routes, but MCTS wants to keep it going.

Hamilton hopes they can find a solution soon.

MCTS is working with Waukesha Metro on a possible alternative if Milwaukee County can’t find the money to keep JobLines.

TODAY’S TMJ4 also reached out to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, he sent us a statement below.

"It's incredibly important to offer services that help people get to work, and we know that so many Milwaukee County residents rely on the bus for their jobs. I've asked MCTS to help us find creative solutions that will best serve our JobLine bus riders, and we'll continue to explore all possibilities."

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