Milwaukee County officials announce suspension of MCTS bus fares

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee County officials on Thursday, March 26 announced they’re suspending fare collection on Milwaukee County Transit System buses — and ordering riders to enter through the rear door only, unless they need assistance with a mobility device or other ADA accommodation.

MCTS officials noted suspending fare collection limits the interaction between riders and bus drivers.

The announcement came during a 4 p.m. briefing by Milwaukee County officials on the coronavirus pandemic.

“While Congress works to create a new Federal Transit Administration grant program to help transit systems sustain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, MCTS is doing its part to help ensure continuation of mass transit in Milwaukee County in this time of need,” said MCTS Managing Director Dan Boehm in a news release.

MCTS will suspend fare collection starting 4 a.m. on Saturday, March 28 in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

A group of seven Milwaukee County supervisors submitted a proposal to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on Monday, March 23 to make this happen.

On March 20, MCTS officials announced a reduction in bus service due to COVID-19 starting March 23.

Until further notice, buses that operate Mondays through Fridays will begin using a schedule that is similar to the one used by MCTS on Saturdays. This adjustment means that Freeway Flyers – including Route 143: Ozaukee County Express – will not be operating. Weekend schedules remain unchanged with one exception; Route 137 will not operate to the House of Correction.

Riders can check the Ride MCTS app, and Google Maps for real-time bus arrival information that will reflect this updated schedule.

A news release from MCTS noted public transportation is considered ‘essential infrastructure’ by federal, state and local officials. To prevent community spread of COVID-19, health officials and MCTS are asking anyone who uses public transportation during the current health emergency to limit non-essential travel, leave at least six feet of space between themselves and others (including bus drivers), and follow proper hygiene recommendations like washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes.

The release outlined steps taken by MCTS since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic:

MCTS implemented an extra daily disinfection process on all buses using EPA-approved and CDC-recommended cleaning products. That’s in addition to the standard cleaning that vehicles receive on a regular basis.

  • MCTS encouraged riders to limit non-essential travel on MCTS buses, use contactless fare payments (M-CARD or app) rather than paying cash, and exit through the back door to limit the time that passengers are near the driver’s compartment.
  • MCTS reminded passengers that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises anyone with fever, cough or shortness of breath to not go out in public, and to not take public transportation.
  • MCTS reduced the level of weekday bus service.  This means fewer bus drivers need to be on the road at any given time.
  • MCTS provided disinfectant solutions and cleaning cloths to bus drivers to ensure that they can clean their workspace throughout the day. There is a global shortage for common supplies, like gloves, sanitizing wipes and sanitizing gels. As these items become available, they are distributed to workers.
  • MCTS uses all available communication channels to inform employees and the general public of steps they can take to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing.
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