Hop streetcar: Milwaukee parking revenue to plug budget gap

Drivers may soon have to pay for parking until 9 p.m. in downtown Milwaukee, and that is at least in part because of a gap in funding for the Hop streetcar.

The Milwaukee Department of Public Works expects another $3 million hole in the streetcar budget in 2022. The department plans to plug that gap with parking revenue.

In addition to extending parking meter hours to 9 p.m. downtown, the city wants to raise the cost of parking tickets next year.

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Alderman Scott Spiker is concerned that people who pay those extra fees and fines will be those who can least afford them.

"The conservatives have been concerned about the streetcar. But there’s a progressive argument with concern about the streetcar, which has to do with how are we funding this?" Spiker said during a DPW budget hearing. "If it’s coming from the transportation fund, well that revenue comes from our parking structures, they’re down quite a bit. But it also comes from tickets. And then, who gets the tickets? Where in the city do those come from?"

The Hop streetcar in Milwaukee

Ridership on the Hop is still roughly one-third of what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, averaging 704 riders per day in 2021.

DPW Commissioner Jeff Polenske said there are still no immediate plans to charge a fare.

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