The Hop (streetcar)

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The Hop
(Milwaukee Streetcar)
The Hop Mke logo.png
Hop car 02 at westbound St. Paul at Plankinton stop (2018).jpg
A Hop streetcar on St. Paul Avenue at Plankinton Ave.
LocaleMilwaukee, Wisconsin
TerminiMilwaukee Intermodal Station
East Side, Milwaukee
Stations18 (with 3 more planned)[2]
Daily ridership2,191[1]
OpenedNovember 2, 2018 (November 2, 2018)
OwnerCity of Milwaukee
Rolling stock5 Brookville Liberty Modern Streetcars
Line length2.1[5] mi (3.4 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification750 V DC,[4] overhead wire
Route diagram

Phase 1
Burns Commons
Ogden at Astor
(at Van Buren)
Jackson at Juneau
Cathedral Square
City Hall
US 18 (Wells Street)
Wisconsin Avenue
Michigan & Jackson
The Couture/BRT
Milwaukee County Transit System
Clybourn & Jefferson
US 18 (East Michigan Street)
I-794 (
Lake Freeway /
East–West Freeway
Historic Third Ward
(between Broadway and Milwaukee Street)
St. Paul at Plankinton
Milwaukee Intermodal Station
Fiserv Forum
Kilbourn Avenue
Wisconsin Center
Operations & maintenance facility

The Hop, also known as the Milwaukee Streetcar, is a modern streetcar system in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. The 2.1-mile (3.4 km)[6][5][7] initial line connects the Milwaukee Intermodal Station and Downtown to the Lower East Side and Historic Third Ward neighborhoods.[8] A 0.4-mile (640 m) Lakefront branch,[6] to the proposed "Couture" high-rise development, has been mostly constructed, but is not projected to open until late 2020.[9][5]

The first construction work on the project took place in late 2016 with completion in summer 2018. Service to the public began on November 2, 2018.[10][5]


In 1860, Milwaukee opened the first line of its original streetcar system using horse-drawn streetcars. The system continued to grow in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, culminating in a large network of electric streetcar lines.[11][12][13]

On March 2, 1958, the city's last streetcar route was closed.[14]

Route description[edit]

The northern terminus of the line is at Burns Commons (Ogden Avenue at Prospect Avenue). From there, the line follows Ogden Avenue in both directions to Jackson Street and then Jackson Street to Kilbourn Avenue. After a short segment of two-way running on E. Kilbourn Avenue, the route connects with N. Broadway (southbound running) and N. Milwaukee Street (northbound running). Two-way running resumes at E. St. Paul Avenue. After crossing the Milwaukee River, the line then follows W. St. Paul Avenue in both directions to N. 4th Street, terminating at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station. Earlier plans to begin the line at Ogden Avenue and Farwell Avenue, and to run northbound on Van Buren Street and only southbound on Jackson Street were dropped to reduce utility relocation costs.

A streetcar crossing the St. Paul Avenue Bridge over the Milwaukee River

The first line, designated the M-Line, from Burns Commons to Milwaukee Intermodal Station, is 2.1 mi (3.4 km) long.[6][5][7] The route follows separate streets in opposing directions for around 0.575 miles (925 m) of its length.[9]

In October 2015, the project received a federal grant which will cover approximately half the cost of a spur to the lakefront.[15] This spur, or branch, to N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. will go via E. Michigan St. and E. Clybourn Street,[16] and is expected to commence service in late 2020.[9][5] By June 2018, it had already been fully constructed except for its outermost section, where delays to the start of work on the proposed "Couture" high-rise development have prevented construction of the streetcar line.[9] The branch is planned to be served by a route, designated as the L-Line, which would also use the tracks of the M-Line along Milwaukee Street and Broadway to make a loop around downtown.

The Hop Mke Streetcar on opening day, November 2, 2018, stopping at the Burns Commons station

The system's carhouse, its storage and maintenance facility, is on Vel R. Phillips Avenue (4th Street), under an elevated section of the I-794 freeway.[9]

Of the 2-mile length of the first line, 0.62 miles (1 km)[9] is not equipped with overhead wires, and the streetcars will cover those sections powered only by their batteries. These unwired sections are along Kilbourn Avenue and Jackson Street.[9] A portion of the future Lakefront Line will also be unwired.

The City of Milwaukee has applied for a TIGER Grant to gain federal funds to fund 50% of the system's extension up 4th St. towards the new Fiserv Forum and the Bronzeville neighborhood.[17]


Funding and approval[edit]

The total cost to construct the streetcar is estimated to be $123.9 million.[18] The project was approved by the Milwaukee Common Council on January 21, 2015, and upheld on February 10, 2015, by a vote of 10 to 5.[19][20]

In mid-April 2016, the city invited bids for the construction of the project's first phase, with a June 1 due date for proposals. At that time, it was estimated that construction could begin in late summer or early fall 2016 and be completed in 2018.[21]

Construction and testing[edit]

A Hop car turning from Broadway onto St. Paul Avenue Avenue, passing the Milwaukee Public Market

On August 19, 2016, Omaha contractor Kiewit Infrastructure was announced as the winning bidder for the contract to construct the line, and carhouse.[22] In February 2017, it was announced that track construction was projected to begin in April 2017.[23][24][25]

Construction of the new streetcar line began in April 2017.[26] Work on utility relocation relating to the project began in 2016,[27] as did construction of the maintenance facility for the line.[28] Installation of the tracks along the route began in May 2017. By March 2018, more than 90% of the track had been installed along the initial line.[6]

In mid-2017, the city signed a contract with Transdev to operate and maintain the streetcar system for at least five years.[3] The first test trip covering the entire line under power was made on the night of June 18/19, 2018.[9] Training of operators began in mid-June.[9]

Naming rights[edit]

Opening-day crowd at Cathedral Square stop

In October 2017, it was announced that a 12-year sponsorship deal, including naming rights, had been reached between the Potawatomi Native American community and the city of Milwaukee. Under the agreement, the Milwaukee Streetcar was formally renamed "The Hop, presented by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino" – The Hop, for short – in exchange for $10 million in funding from the Potawatomi.[29][30][31] These corporate sponsorship funds will also allow all Hop service to be free for the first year, city officials said.[29][30]


The lakefront loop is expected to commence service in 2020. The city intends to extend the line to Fiserv Forum prior to the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Two additional extensions are being planned: one north past Fiserv Forum into Bronzeville with another leaving the initial route in the Third Ward and extending south to Walker's Point.[32]


The line is operated by Transdev, under contract to the city of Milwaukee, the streetcar system's owner.[3] The contract goes through December 2023, covering the first five years of in-service operation, with an option for a five-year extension.[33]

Hop service runs seven days a week, spanning from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.[10] No fares will be charged for the first year of service, under the 12-year sponsorship deal with Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.[10]

Rolling stock[edit]

The first streetcar for The Hop, when newly delivered, March 2018
Interior view

On April 6, 2015, the city invited bids for the supply of four streetcars, with the issuing of a request for proposals to interested manufacturers.[34] In November 2015, the city awarded an $18.6-million contract to Brookville Equipment Corporation to build four "Liberty" model streetcars for Milwaukee.[35][36] A fifth car was added to the order later, to expand the fleet sufficiently to be able to serve the future Lakefront extension.[37]

The city specified that the streetcars be capable of operating in service using only battery power part of the time, because almost one third of the line is not equipped with overhead wires;[9] the batteries are charged when the vehicles are on the wired portions of the line. The sections that will be operated on battery power only are along Kilbourn Avenue and Jackson Street.[9] All other parts of the line have overhead wires, although a portion of the future branch to the Lakefront area is also planned to be unwired.

The first of the five vehicles arrived in Milwaukee from Brookville on March 26, 2018,[38] and made the first test run over a short section of the line on April 11.[39] The cars are numbered 01–05, and each car is 67 feet (20 m) long, weighing 83,000 pounds (38,000 kg; 38 t), and is designed to carry 120 to 150 passengers.[38] On May 14, 2018, the second streetcar was delivered,[40] followed by the third on July 26. The fifth and final car on order was delivered on September 7, 2018.[41]


Stop Neighborhood(s) Connections
Burns Commons The Lower East Side MCTS: Routes 30, 30X, Gold Line
Ogden/Astor The Lower East Side MCTS: Routes 14, 30, 30X
Ogden/Jackson The Lower Side MCTS: Routes 15, 30, 30X
Jackson/Juneau Yankee Hill MCTS: Routes 15, 33
Cathedral Square East Town MCTS: Routes 30, 30X, 49, 143, Brewers Line
City Hall East Town MCTS: Routes 15, 57, Green Line
Wisconsin Avenue East Town MCTS:Routes 14, 30, 30X, 40, 43, 44, 46, 48, 49, 143, Brewers Line, Gold Line
Historic Third Ward Historic Third Ward MCTS: Routes 15, Green Line
St. Paul/Plankinton Station District MCTS: Routes 19, 23, Blue Line
Milwaukee Intermodal Station Station District Amtrak: Hiawatha Service, Empire Builder, MCTS: Routes 12, 31, 57, Badger Bus, Wisconsin Coach Lines/Coach USA, Greyhound Lines, and Megabus (North America).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Milwaukee streetcar 'The Hop' ridership outpaces estimates". TMJ4. November 30, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "About the HOP". Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Barrow, Keith (September 13, 2017). "Transdev to operate Milwaukee Streetcar". Railway Age. ISSN 0033-8826. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  4. ^ Glaszcz, Rachael; Gotter, Brian (May 16, 2018). "How will the streetcar handle Milwaukee weather?". WTMJ. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ryan, Sean (November 2, 2018). "Milwaukee streetcar draws a crowd on first day of service". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Shaw, Dan (March 7, 2018). "Clybourn, Milwaukee intersection to close for streetcar work". The Daily Reporter. BridgeTower Media. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions – About Streetcars". City of Milwaukee DPW. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  8. ^ Walker, Don (January 16, 2015). "Feds approve route change for proposed Milwaukee streetcars". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Milwaukee streetcar set for November opening". Tramways & Urban Transit. UK: Light Rail Transit Association. August 2018. p. 286. ISSN 1460-8324.
  10. ^ a b c Nelson, James B. (November 2, 2018). "Everything you need to know about the new Milwaukee streetcar, at least for now". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Nelson, James B. (January 16, 2015). "Rep. Jim Steineke says Milwaukee streetcar would be '1900s style trolley'". Politifact Wisconsin. Retrieved August 19, 2016. The previous system began in 1860 with a small network of horse-drawn cars. Those lines eventually grew into a large network powered by electricity. The streetcar became an important part of the city's fabric – and the foundation for the city's electric utility.
  12. ^ "Historical Milwaukee Streetcar Maps". The Squeaky Curd. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  13. ^ "Speaking the Truth". The Milwaukee Streetcar. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  14. ^ Schultz, Russell E. (1980). A Milwaukee Transport Era: The Trackless Trolley Years. Glendale, CA: Interurbans. p. 88. ISBN 0-916374-43-2.
  15. ^ "Streetcar spur to lakefront awarded $14 million federal grant". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  16. ^ Jeramey, Jannene (May 22, 2018). "City Advances Streetcar Extension Plans". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  17. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (April 29, 2016). "Milwaukee seeks $20 million grant for streetcar extension". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  18. ^ "Capital Costs/Construction". The Milwaukee Streetcar Project. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  19. ^ Stephenson, Crocker (February 10, 2015). "Milwaukee Common Council OKs streetcar plan". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  20. ^ Jannene, Jeramey (February 10, 2015). "Eyes on Milwaukee: Milwaukee Streetcar Approved". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  21. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (April 19, 2016). "City opens bidding to lead Milwaukee streetcar construction project". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3A. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  22. ^ Ryan, Sean (August 19, 2016). "Milwaukee hires lead streetcar contractor, allowing work to begin as early as fall". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved August 19, 2016. Kiewit Infrastructure Co. of Omaha, Neb., was selected for the estimated $60 million contract to lead the first phases of Milwaukee's streetcar construction.
  23. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (February 17, 2017). "Milwaukee Streetcar route construction to begin in April". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  24. ^ Aevermann, Kyle (February 17, 2017). "Milwaukee Streetcar Construction To Begin in April". WDJT-TV. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  25. ^ Wainscott, Kent (February 17, 2017). "Construction of Milwaukee streetcar to begin in April". WISN-TV. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  26. ^ Handelman, Luke (April 4, 2017). "'Huge project': Welding of steel begins as construction gets underway on controversial streetcar". WITI. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  27. ^ Jannene, Jeramey (February 17, 2017). "Streetcar Track Construction Starts in April". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  28. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (April 18, 2016). "City opens bidding to lead Milwaukee streetcar construction project". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  29. ^ a b Spicuzza, Mary; Glauber, Bill (October 7, 2017) [online date October 6]. "Streetcar gains sponsor: Potawatomi Hotel has inked $10 million deal for 12 years". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. pp. 1A, 10A. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  30. ^ a b Keith, Theo (October 6, 2017). "Milwaukee streetcar to be named "The Hop" under deal with Potawatomi, free rides for a year". WITI. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  31. ^ Kirchen, Rich (October 6, 2017). "Potawatomi deal 'significant step' in avoiding city tax support for Milwaukee streetcar". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  32. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (May 1, 2019). "Milwaukee plans to extend The Hop streetcar route before 2020 Democratic National Convention". Journal Sentinel. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  33. ^ "Transdev to operate, maintain Milwaukee Streetcar". Progressive Railroading. September 7, 2017. ISSN 0033-0817. Archived from the original on September 10, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  34. ^ Ryan, Sean (April 7, 2015). "Milwaukee plans to buy four initial streetcars, could pay more than $4M each". Milwaukee Business Journal.
  35. ^ "Milwaukee Approves Agreement With U.S. Streetcar Manufacturer To Build New System's First Four Vehicles". Milwaukee Streetcar. November 13, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  36. ^ Vantuono, William C. (November 16, 2015). "Brookville streetcars for Milwaukee". Railway Age. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  37. ^ "First of five Brookville Liberty Streetcar vehicles for The Hop Streetcar arrives in Milwaukee" (Press release). Brookville Equipment Corporation. March 28, 2018. Archived from the original on June 6, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  38. ^ a b Spicuzza, Mary (March 26, 2018). "First new Milwaukee streetcar vehicle rolls into downtown". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  39. ^ "Worldwide Review [regular news section]". Tramways & Urban Transit. UK: Light Rail Transit Association. June 2018. p. 233.
  40. ^ Delong, Katie (May 13, 2018). "2nd streetcar vehicle for 'The Hop' arrives in Milwaukee Monday". WITI (Fox 6). Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  41. ^ "Worldwide Review [regular news section]". Tramways & Urban Transit. UK: Light Rail Transit Association. November 2018. p. 434.

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