'Difficult decisions:' Budget battle could lead to some Milwaukee County bus routes being cut in 2020

MILWAUKEE -- The managing director of Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) tells FOX6 News some bus route cuts will take place starting in 2020. It is a result of budget concerns.

For many, taking a county bus is an essential part of getting around in life. But with revenue problems throughout Milwaukee County, budgets across the board are going to be tight in the next fiscal year.

"For 2020, we had to put together a balanced budget that includes several service changes," said Dan Boehm, Director of MCTS.

Dan Boehm

Boehm tells FOX6 News they feel like they are constantly being asked to do more with less.

"We've tried very hard to balance the needs of our passengers with the needs of our employees," Boehm said. "We've developed a budget that preserves services for 97% of the ridership in 2020."

That means routes will be cut to areas less traveled -- such as those meant for specific events like Summerfest or Brewers games.

"These are the type of difficult decisions we have to make when the expenses exceed the amount of revenues we're able to operate with," Boehm said.

Milwaukee County Transit System MCTS bus

Additionally, after a year-and-a-half of contract negotiations with union employees, Boehm said this was their last and best offer.

"We've offered a final offer that includes a wage increase, includes good health care benefits," Boehm said.

James Macon

Union leaders said they had not reviewed the offer yet, but were eager to do so.

"We have put in money for years, going to the state, and we don't get half of it back," said James Macon, president of ATU 998.

That being said, union officials were skeptical that this offer would be something they could agree on.

"The public is going to know that there is money out there to save these routes; there's money out there to do better security," Macon said.


FOX6 News reached out to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele for a statement on this matter:

"As a result of a decade-long funding imbalance with the state, our ability to maintain facilities, preserve community assets and provide high-quality services at the level our residents deserve is approaching the breaking point. The County’s ability to adequately fund and maintain what we would like to is diminishing every year. We need adequate support from the state or the option to use new tools to generate necessary funding going forward in order to put both Milwaukee County and all of Wisconsin on a path to a sustainable future."