Milwaukee County supervisors propose free bus service during coronavirus pandemic

MILWAUKEE -- Several members of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors are proposing free bus rides on all Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) buses, starting immediately, for at least three weeks.

A group of seven supervisors proposed the measure to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on Monday, March 23. The proposal requests that passengers enter through the rear door of the bus to limit contact between riders and bus operators.

"Allowing passengers to board MCTS buses and exit by the rear door will help slow the transmission of the coronavirus until bus operators get the personal protective equipment they need," said Supervisor Sequanna Taylor. "Under our proposal, passengers who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices can still board from the front."

The Board of Supervisors also intends for bus operators to have personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves, to protect themselves and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

"Workers who are on the front lines during this crisis deserve our support and that includes MCTS bus operators," said John Weishan, chair of the board's transportation committee. "MCTS buses provide and essential service and it's imperative that all bus operators have the personal protective gear they need to limit the spread of the virus."

Current operational practices require close contact between operators and passengers, as passengers enter through the front of the bus, stop to pay at the farebox next to the driver or show the driver a pass, and walk past the driver when boarding.

Supervisors Taylor and Weishan, along with Deanna Alexander, Felesia Martin, Marcelia Nicholson, Sylvia Ortiz-Velez and Steve Shea are working on the proposal.