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Milwaukee streetcar 'The Hop' ridership outpaces estimates

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Posted at 10:06 PM, Nov 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 23:06:45-05

Milwaukee City officials are pleased with the ridership estimates for the city's new streetcar. The Hop, as it's called, took an average of 2,191 riders per day down the rails between Nov. 5-18.

That's more than 300 over the estimate of 1,850 the city's pre-launch estimates expected.

"It's great news, it's November," said Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeff Polenske. "We were a little bit nervous starting off right before the winter months begin...People are riding it and they are riding it more than we actually estimated." 

Polenske believes there is a base of riders using the service every day.

"They are using it actually for commuting to work," he said. "They're picking it up from their residences, they're coming into work and reverse that in the evening."

As the warmer months approach, the city estimates more riders will hop on The Hop.

Polenske says, "As the spring months come, as the summer months come, we're going to see kind of seasonally how do we best accommodate the peaks and valleys that we might see throughout the year."

The city estimates The Hop's annual operational cost at $3.2 million. At current ridership levels when fares go into effect, they would bring in around $800,000 yearly.

Polenske says the fares are just one source of revenue for The Hop. Sponsorships like that of the current presenting sponsor Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, Federal Grants and a percentage of the city's parking fund will all help pay for the streetcar in the future.