Donna Brown-Martin, director of the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation, announced the appointment of Denise Wandke as president and managing director of Milwaukee Transport Services, Inc., which operates the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS).
“Denise Wandke has risen to the many challenges facing public transit," said Brown-Martin. "She successfully led negotiations for a new bus operator contract, has effectively collaborated with the County Board, and is currently navigating the fiscal budget crisis."
Wandke's Previous Experience with MCTS
In her former role as president and interim managing director of MCTS, Wandke oversaw the success of close to 16 million rides across 18 municipalities throughout Milwaukee County last year.
In her 30-year career at MCTS, she’s held leadership positions in nearly every part of operations, rising from bus operator to instructor, route supervisor, dispatcher, and station manager.
As the director of Transportation at MCTS, she led a team that included more than 800 bus operators, route supervisors, transit security officers, dispatchers, trainers, station supervisors, and support staff.
Wandke became the first woman to serve as deputy director of MCTS in the 50-year history of the organization.
MCTS Under New Leadership
As the head of MCTS, Wandke collaborates with Milwaukee County leadership including the county executive, county Board of Supervisors, the director of the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation, and local and state elected officials to ensure Milwaukee County maintains a transit system to support the economy in the state.
Wandke is also leading the way for the modernization of public transit, from a new regional fare collection system called WisGo to the launch of Wisconsin’s first Bus Rapid Transit line, MCTS CONNECT.
Wandke advocates for a long-term funding solution to public transit’s fiscal cliff, a $26.5 million budget shortfall in 2025, a cut that could reduce service for half of all routes in the system.
“Denise’s experience and leadership within MCTS spans three decades, and she’s worked in some of the most important positions related to transit operations,” said David Crowley, Milwaukee County executive. “Her experience comes with an innate ability to understand how to lead a public transit organization to meet the needs of a diverse, ever-changing community."