Milwaukee County Transit System

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Milwaukee County Transit System
Milwaukee County Transit System logo.svg
Parent Milwaukee County Government
Founded June 1, 1975
Headquarters 1942 North 17th St.Coordinates: 43°03′18.5″N 87°55′59″W / 43.055139°N 87.93306°W / 43.055139; -87.93306
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Service area Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha counties
Service type Bus Service
Routes 50+
Hubs Downtown Transit Center (Wisconsin Ave) CLOSED, Milwaukee Intermodal Station
Stations Kinnicknnic Ave Garage, Fond du Lac Ave Garage, Fiebrantz Garage
Fleet About 400 buses
Daily ridership 151,000
(2011 avg. weekday)[1]
Fuel type Diesel
Operator Milwaukee Transport Services, Inc.
Website Milwaukee County Transit System

The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) is the largest transit agency in Wisconsin, and is the primary transit provider for Milwaukee County. It ranks among the top 50 transit agencies in the United States for total passenger trips.[2] The Milwaukee Transport Services, Inc. is a quasi-governmental agency responsible for the management and operation of the Milwaukee County Transit System.[3] The county-run agency was formed in 1975 (under the direction of the "newly" created Milwaukee Transport Services, Inc.) after taking over the assets of the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Company, a private operator.

Bus fleet[edit]

MCTS bus 4413, a 2001 New Flyer D40LF

MCTS operates a fleet of over 400 New Flyer low floor buses. All buses are 40 feet (12 m) long.

Fleet numbers[edit]


Numbers Builder Model Delivered
4700-4750 New Flyer D40LF Feb. 2003 25 active as of April 21, 2017

4700, 4703, 4704, 4708, 4709, 4717, 4718, 4719, 4720, 4730, 4731, 4732, 4733, 4734, 4735, 4740, 4741, 4742, 4744, 4745, 4746, 4747, 4748, 4749, 4750

Remaining buses have cameras on the sides.

A few to be retired by new buses in 2017.

7 inactive (4710, 4711, 4713, 4729, 4736, 4737, 4739)

4800-4829 New Flyer D40LF January 2004 4800-4814, 4816-4829 active

Buses have cameras on the outside.

4815 inactive

A few to be retired by new buses in 2017.

4900-4914 New Flyer D40LF October 2004 All active

Officially “2005” as that is when they were paid for; a future purchase for 15 more buses (4915-4929) were canceled due to cuts.

A few to be retired by new buses in 2017.

5000-5008 New Flyer D40LF January 2006 5000-5007 active

A future purchase for 23 buses (5009-5031) were canceled due to cuts.

5100-5189 New Flyer D40LFR August 2010 All active

First buses to feature near-zero emissions

5200-5234 New Flyer D40LFR April 2011 All active

All have cameras on the sides and back of the bus.

5300-5354 New Flyer D40LFR March 2012 All active

All have cameras.

5400-5454 New Flyer XD40 July 2013 All active

Clean air buses; First fleet in MCTS' history to feature rear destination signs on the back of the bus.

All have cameras on the sides and back of the bus.

5500-5534 New Flyer XD40 January 2014 All active

Clean air buses

5600-5627 New Flyer XD40 October 2015 All active

Clean air buses with new interior features, such as an automatically opening electronic smart door at the back of the bus.[4]

2 were canceled due to increased costs. NO 5628 & 5629.

5601 & 5603 used for demonstrations in September.

5601 was first new bus in service on Route 19 on Friday October 2, 2015.[5]

5700-5729 New Flyer XD40 August 2016 All active

Feature cameras on the outside of the bus.

All in service as of Dec. 2.

5800-5816? New Flyer TBD TBD 2017 Per the specifications of the contract that was awarded to New Flyer in 2014, This coincides with the last of the 75 new buses to be delivered in 2017, with 28 delivered in 2015, 30 in 2016, and 17, depending on increased costs, in 2017.
9000-???  ???  ??? Unknown Bus 9000 first seen on April 24, 2017 on Blue Line (information retrieved via

Bus 9000 still in revenue service as of May 14, 2017 which routes does this fleet assignment operates? last time i saw it was on 30x but most of the time it operated on 23 and blue line (was hoping someone would have some information on bus by now or had a photo of bus 9000)

Builder/Model/Date Delivered is unknown at this time


Numbers Builder Model Delivered Withdrawn
Pre-MCTS (ex Transport Co. fleet)
1320-1483 GMC TDH-5105 1953-1957 & 1959 1980 1329 & 1343 painted in UWM black & metallic gold in 1975;

1335, 1336, 1339, 1406, 1411, 1415, 1421, 1428, 1430, 1432, 1446 & 1456 painted in two-tone county green in late 1975/early 1976. (All were painted for WTMJ Ch. 4 except 1456)

1466, 1467, 1470, 1473, 1474, 1477, 1479, 1481, 1482 & 1483 painted in dark green and white for Downtown ShuttleBug (Route 7) in 1975.

1483 is the last TDH-5105 built (1959)

1484-1503 GMC TDH-5301 1960 1985
1504-1586 GMC TDH-5301 1962 1985 1583 is the last TDH-5301 to operate in Dec. 1985
1601-1675 GMC TDH-5303 1963 1986
1701-1730 GMC TDH-5303 1964 1986
1751-1760 GMC TDH-5301 1960 1985 Originally operated by Triboro Coach and acquired in early 1965
1761-1770 GMC TDH-5302 1960 1985 Originally operated by Triboro Coach and acquired in early 1965;

1761 and 1762 were used as sightseeing buses and can be distinguished by their scenic windows.

1761 used at Mitchell Field [Mitchell International Airport after 1986] (1982-1990)

1801-1863 GMC TDH-5303 1965 1987 1825 first to be painted in two-tone county green.

Were in the plan to be rehabilitated and later dropped.

1901-1960 GMC TDH-5303 1966 2001 1949 painted white w/green stripe before being rehabbed.

Refurbished in 1982-1987 and repainted into MCTS' white with green stripe except 1911 and 1945, retired early and not rehabilitated.

2001-2030 GMC TDH-5303 1967 2001 Refurbished in 1982-1987 and repainted into MCTS colors except 2024, retired early and not rehabilitated;

2001 was converted into a special bus that was used for handicapped and elderly use (1979-1994);

2003 used as a shuttle at Mitchell International Airport (1996-1998).

Post-MCTS (1975 to present)
3000-3099 Flxible 53102-8-1 1978 1991 First order to feature handicapped seating and lifts and first with air conditioning; introduced MCTS' new color scheme.

3032 used at Mitchell International Airport (1990-1996).

3000 is the last 53102-8-1 built

3100-3249 GMC RTS-II 1980 2000 First group to display route numbers on right end rear windows.

Refurbished in 1987-1990 to add new vertically opening windows and new air conditioning units.

3219-3224 equipped with turbo engines and the only 6 plus a demo.

3120 & 3127 had Cummins engines.

3300-3325 Neoplan N416 1982 1996 40-ft. Ordered with wheelchair lifts which were removed before entering service.

Only 76 of this model built, only MCTS & Atlanta (MARTA) had them plus one demo.

3326-3343 Neoplan N416 1982 1991 35-ft. Only 18 built and for MCTS.

3334 used at Milwaukee County House of Correction as C3334 (1993-1996).

3400-3439 Crown-Ikarus 286 1984–1985[6] 2000 60-foot articulated buses

Very few systems had them, Portland (Tri-Met), Louisville (TARC), Houston and others.

3500-3571 Neoplan AN440 1985-1986 2002 Second generation; non-wheelchair
3600-3656 Neoplan AN440 1987 2002 Third generation: longer wheelbase moved rear axle further away from exit door; non-wheelchair.

These series had 2 engine types. 3600-3619 were Cummins while 3620-3656 had Detroit Diesel.

3700-3816 Orion 05.501 1990-1991 2004 3700-3801 was the last order without wheelchair lifts;

3802-3816 were delivered with wheelchair lifts, MetroLink orange stripe added in 1992 and mainly assigned to Route 1.

Last buses to display route destination numbers on right side rear windows.

4000-4145 New Flyer D40LF 1996-1997 2011 A number placed in storage from mid 2009 to early 2010 due to cuts
4200-4208 New Flyer D30LF 1997 2010 Placed in storage in 2008 due to cuts
4300-4389 New Flyer D40LF January 2000 2017 Originally retired in 2014.

4302, 4304, 4305, 4320, 4329, 4348 returned to service in Jan. 2015. 4305 and 4320 remained in service until early 2017.

4400-4468 New Flyer D40LF 2001 2015 Originally retired in 2014.

4417, 4434, 4466 returned to service in Jan. 2015 and re-retired in Sept 2015.

4426, 4439 & 4447 were converted as fare collection buses for Summerfest & Wisconsin State Fair for 2 seasons (2014-2015).

4418 was the only bus in MCTS' history in which a homicide took place on board.[7]

4500-4519 New Flyer D30LF 2002 2012 4501, 4507, 4510, 4515-4519 went to Sheboygan after 2012
4600-4639 New Flyer D40LF April 2002 2016 All retired

4616 & 4638 inactive.

4607, 4614, 4617, 4626, 4632, 4633 & 4639 were converted as fare collection buses for Summerfest & Wisconsin State Fair for 2 seasons (2014-2015).

3900-3911 Gillig Spirit 1991 2001 First used on light routes in 1991.

MetroLink orange stripe added in 1992 and used primarily on feeder routes that connected to the MetroLink Route 1.

Very few systems had these mini-buses such as Dayton RTA, Monterey-Salinas, Colorado Springs and others.

1000-1004 Gillig Advantage 2002 2014 Used exclusively for Ozaukee County service.

Officially retired on June 8, 2014, with 4 examples of this series being purchased by Wausau Transit System to replace buses that had structural problems.

Bus 1004 has been out of service before the retirement due to transmission problems

Relationship with New Flyer[edit]

MCTS has had a very long and exclusive relationship with New Flyer since 1996, as their buses have all been first and second generation D40LFs.[8][9] In Summer 2013 MCTS added 90 New Flyer Excelsiors to its lineup, thus continuing their partnership with NFI as their coach of choice.[10] 55 were delivered in Summer 2013 & the additional 35 in 2014. On October 6, 2014, a Release of Request for Proposal for 75 new buses by the Milwaukee Transport Services, Inc., (MTS), was issued. An award on this contract was issued in December 2014 to New Flyer. The order calls for 75 new buses to be delivered within a 3 year delivery span that begins in 2015 and ending in 2017. In December 2015, MCTS tested a New Flyer Xcelsior that ran on electrically charged batteries that can operate for 120 miles. MCTS is looking at this pilot study as part of a plan to add more non-diesel buses to future fleet orders.

Bus routes[edit]

Most of the year, MCTS operates more than 55 bus routes covering about 90% of Milwaukee County and parts of Waukesha County, Ozaukee County, and Washington County. In addition, special routes are run for certain festivals, sports games, and other special events.


As of December 2016, the adult, regular, non-discounted bus fare on MCTS is $2.25. For those that have an M•Card, the fare per ride is $1.75. Reduced and the fare for children 6-17 are $1.10 cash or M•Card (free to children below 6, up to 3 per fare-paying rider). A 24-hour pass costs $4 for adults, while a 7-day pass is $17.50, A monthly pass since January 2017, is $72. Free transfers are given within 1 hour of paying fare.[11]

In 2013, MCTS finalized plans for a transition from paper fare media (tickets, printed passes, and paper transfers) to a contactless smart card known as the M•CARD, with the project completion Leap Day 2016.[12] While exact fares will still be accepted in cash, the M•CARD allows passengers to add daily, weekly, and monthly passes, store a declining value, and receive transfers automatically.

M•CARD Timeline and Transition Milestones

September 29, 2014: M•CARD passes (1, 7 or 31 day) launched at select sales outlets.

October 13, 2014: M•CARD customers were able to purchase Stored Cash Value.

April 6, 2015: MCTS begins issuing a one-time $2.00 charge fee for NEW! M•CARD purchase.

August 5, 2015: M•CARD Online launched.

November 16, 2015: M•CARD customers could purchase a 1-Day Pass from the farebox.

Coming 2016: M•CARD Lite (a disposable limited use smartcard) will be available to social service agencies and non-profit organizations.

As of February 29, 2016, the distribution of paper transfers and outlets that sell paper fare media was discontinued. Transfers are only available electronically (even for cash paying passengers), marking the beginning of an all M•CARD fare structure.[13] Any remaining paper tickets were still accepted as fare through December 31, 2016.

The new fare system was funded predominantly by federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Other transit services[edit]

MCTS is a partner in the Southeast Wisconsin Transit System, a joint-venture transit partnership that also includes Waukesha Metro Transit and Wisconsin Coach Lines in Waukesha, Washington County Commuter Express operated by Riteway Bus Service in Richfield, Belle Urban System (THE BUS) in Racine and Kenosha Area Transit (KAT) in Kenosha.

Other projects[edit]

Regional Transit Authority[edit]

In 2010, a proposal to form a regional transit authority that would incorporate MCTS was made in the Wisconsin State Legislature. The move faced opposition from some lawmakers, and was vetoed by then Governor Doyle.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us > FAQs". Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-05. 
  2. ^ 2013 Public Transportation Fact Book (pdf). American Public Transportation Association. October 2013. p. 8. Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  3. ^ {}
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Schultz, Russell E. (May–June 1986). "Milwaukee Part V [of history of transit in that city]: Milwaukee County Transit System, 1975 to 1985". Motor Coach Age, pp. 3–36. Motor Bus Society. ISSN 0739-117X.
  7. ^ "End of the line for city bus No. 4418". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. July 20, 2013. Retrieved 2014-12-05. 
  8. ^ Press release from New Flyer (July 21, 2009)
  9. ^ From New Flyer (November 5, 2009)
  11. ^ "Transfers". Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-05. 
  12. ^ {}
  13. ^ "New Fare System". Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-05. 
  14. ^ Sandler, Larry; Stein, Jason (March 3, 2010). "Bill could have public paying again for buses". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

External links[edit]