‘Still had to come in:’ Those with dead car batteries in bitter cold thankful for mass transit

Joel Hinz

MILWAUKEE -- With at least 1,000 closings in the FOX6 system Wednesday, Jan. 30 amid a wind chill warning for all of southeast Wisconsin, many were able to stay home from school and work, but not everyone. Some who woke up to a vehicle that wouldn't start in the bitter cold turned to public transportation to get to their destination. That included Milwaukee's streetcar, "The Hop."

Those who had to rely on public transportation said they were thankful the systems were running in the bitter cold.

Joel Hinz said his morning commute didn't go well in the arctic air.

"Still had to come in. The bus broke down at the previous stop, so I had wait to wait in my car for 20 minutes for the next bus to come along," said Hinz.

Ridership was low Wednesday on Milwaukee County Transit System buses, but those on board said they were very appreciative.

"Got to give it to them. Mass transit is doing what they supposed to do," said Mike Gerry.

Gerry's two jobs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Froedtert Hospital required he venture out. He said he would not have made it to work without MCTS. Officials said there was a discussion regarding potentially shutting down the system, but in the end, MCTS officials concluded keeping the buses up and running was too important.

Riders were prepared.

"You guys said layer up, so that does work, by the way," said one rider.

"Not bad at all in my U.S. Navy coat," said one rider.

Laura Desch

"It's extremely cold. I'm wearing two pairs of pants," said Laura Desch.

Desch said she used the MCTS app to limit her time in the cold.

"They canceled school, and I still have to go to work," said Desch.

While MCTS officials said some buses did break down in the cold, by rush hour, FOX6 News found they were running on schedule.

Meanwhile, Daniel Strandt chose a night with wind chills in the -30s to try Milwaukee's streetcar for the first time.

"I always walk around downtown, or I have my own car, but I left my car at home," said Strandt.

He feared a dead battery -- with his friends opting not to cancel game night.

Daniel Strandt

"We had it planned, and we're not doing anything tonight," said Strandt.

It meant a cold wait for The Hop -- one he considered worth it.

"I was waiting a long time, but I didn't freeze to death!" said Strandt.

FOX6 News spoke with multiple people who planned on using their own vehicles, but they simply wouldn't start in the cold, so instead, they opted to use mass transit.

MCTS officials did warn about potential weather-related delays. The Hop seemed to be running smoothly.

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