Jun 05, 2023

CONNECT 1 bus route launches

MILWAUKEE — People in Milwaukee County now have a new way to get from the suburbs to downtown.

Monday marked the official launch of the Milwaukee County Transit System's CONNECT 1 service. A ribbon-cutting event was held on the corner of 27th and Wisconsin Avenue on Milwaukee's west side to mark the occasion.

The CONNECT 1 line runs nine miles between downtown Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center complex in Wauwatosa, with intermediate stops every few blocks. Buses running on the line are electric, a first for Milwaukee County.

Throughout the past year, new bus stops have been built along Wisconsin Avenue and other streets where the bus travels. Work on the CONNECT 1 line has been happening since 2016.

Supporters of the project who spoke at Monday's event, including Congresswoman Gwen Moore, said it is an exciting time.

"It connects us to our overall vision to have a sustainable environment, and it also connects people to work, it connects people to health opportunities," said Moore.

With service running every 10 minutes during peak times, commuters can look forward to shorter wait times for buses. In addition, riders with disabilities will have more transportation options.

Denise Koss uses a wheelchair to get around. Since she doesn't drive, Koss regularly uses the bus. Koss said she feels confident knowing the new buses are equipped to meet her needs.

"Safety is paramount to me, because I need to know that my chair is not going to move, and I want to be safe on the bus," said Koss.

While many are pleased to see the CONNECT 1 line up and running, questions remain about the impact the bus line will have on traffic along busy corridors like Wisconsin Avenue.

Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman said he thinks having the line will be good for commuters, but does have concerns about what it could mean for overall traffic along the route.

"The dedicated lanes, whether they are going to be effective in keeping regular traffic out. And, to the extent, they will get congested with regular motor vehicles that will slow down the bus so they will lose the travel time savings," said Bauman.

The CONNECT 1 service will be free to riders through September. After that, traditional MCTS fares will apply.