A state-of-the-art bus and new brand for the Milwaukee County Transit System was unveiled at a special celebration on Wisconsin Avenue at the heart of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route.
The new BRT brand is called “MCTS CONNECT,” specifically designed for the battery electric buses (BEBs) used on this BRT route. The BEBs feature a sleek, new look to highlight their advanced technology. The light blue color scheme is a natural extension of the existing MCTS blue, and a larger than life “C” logo and the phrase “Clean Energy. Clean Air.” further distinguishes the brand. The name CONNECT fits MCTS’s mission to connect the community to jobs, education, and life via essential transit services. The graphic elements connote rapid movement, and the reflective decals are eye-catching at night.
MCTS Interim President and Managing Director Denise Wandke, who began her career at MCTS 29 years ago as a bus operator, cites the collaboration across local, regional, and national levels needed to bring electrification to the MCTS fleet and reach this milestone with the BRT. “The quest to bring the East-West Bus Rapid Transit System to Milwaukee began years ago. Many stakeholders played a vital role in making the idea a reality for our community,” said Wandke. “We can’t wait to share the fruits of all this labor when CONNECT begins next year.”
Maintenance Director Ron McCorkel, who began his MCTS career as a bus operator 31-years ago, led the vendor selection and manufacturing process. “We put thousands of hours into the project, really challenging ourselves to give riders a great experience,” said McCorkel. “This has been a very exciting project for everyone involved, both inside and outside of MCTS.”
The buses are zero emission which will improve air quality. The first 11 BEBs will reduce fossil fuel (diesel) utilization by more than 67,000 gallons annually. By the fall of 2023, four more BEBs will arrive, bringing the total fleet to 15.
Each bus is so silent that chimes will ring as the bus nears a stop so that riders with visual impairments will know the bus is arriving. A Q’STRAINT Quantum system on each bus assists with mobility devices in a more convenient way. Wider doors and a wider aisle give passengers more space to enter and exit the bus. USB charging ports are at each seat location.
Passenger service along CONNECT is scheduled to begin June 2023. Fares will be the same as they are across MCTS. Before the service launches, bus operators, route supervisors, mechanics, and dispatchers will undergo a total of 5,100 hours of training to prepare for riders.