MCTS: Ridership up 1M compared to this time last year

The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) on Thursday, Aug. 11 announced it will have given one million more rides compared to the same time last year – a total of 8.4 million to date in 2022.

MCTS called the increase a "positive sign" that ridership is bouncing back after the transit system lost a number of riders during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The transit system attributes the increase to a combination of trends including the expansion of high-frequency service begun last year with MCTS NEXT, unpredictable gas prices and more people returning to the office. 

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In addition, MCTS said it has seen social and recreational use increase by 5%, according to its annual ridership survey. The survey showed a growing number of people are choosing the bus for general purposes like riding to Milwaukee’s many events and to see sights around town.

Included in the millionth ride statistics, MCTS said, is the number of riders who boarded an MCTS bus using a mobility device, a number which has increased by 14% over 2021, to a total of 24,000 bus boardings.

Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus stop

In addition to bus ridership, MCTS said the Transit Plus van service is seeing growth. Transit Plus provides service for individuals with a disability that prevents them from using fixed route bus service. Van ridership increased over this same time last year by 27%, to 186,000 riders.
MCTS riders have also been able to access more jobs through a new pilot program, FlexRide Milwaukee, which can be reached by 19 MCTS routes. FlexRide continues to see its ridership expand since launching in March, the transit system said, currently providing about 175 rides per week. It recently announced the service will continue and expand after the pilot ends this fall.

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Statement from Kristina Hoffman, MCTS director of marketing and communications:

"Recovering the riders lost due to the pandemic shows transit is an essential, everyday service for Milwaukee County residents and points to the need for a well-funded transit system to keep Milwaukee County healthy, growing, and contributing to the success of the region. Currently, we face an upcoming fiscal cliff that will force us to make difficult decisions unless long-term funding solutions can be identified at local, state and federal levels. The economic health of our region and the jobs located here depend on a top-notch transportation system."