Sunday, April 15, 2007

Transit for Milwaukee

Noticed a flyer on a bus stop this afternoon: The Milwaukee Transit Riders Union will be holding its first public meeting on Saturday, April 28 at 10:00AM at the East Library. They have some lofty and noble goals, which I wish them luck in achieving.

For me, the crux of MCTS's problem is infrequent, irregular service. When I first started working downtown, I tried taking the bus from the East Side. I'd stand outside in the freezing cold of wintertime, often waiting 15 or 20 minutes for a bus to show up -- a time during which I could easily have driven there.

In the end, I decided that if I was going to freeze my tail off for 20 minutes, I might as well be where I'm going when it's done. I started biking instead. Now I bike most of the time, drive when it's raining or below 15 degrees, and ride the bus only when it's snowing.

People would sometimes tell me, oh, you should check the schedule!

Well, no. Even if the buses actually adhered to a schedule (and in all my experience, they do no such thing), I should not have to check a schedule. I should walk out to the stop, wait a few short minutes, and have a bus arrive. That's how a functional transit system works.

You should never have to wait more than ten minutes for a bus -- and that's only if you were a block from the bus stop when the last bus went by. Anything more is an absurd imposition on your schedule, a waste of your time. MCTS would do well to consider that.


Anonymous said...

I regularly ride the bus downtown to work. I used to ride the 10 which was 15 minutes between buses and now that I've moved I take the 15 which is ten minutes between buses. Sure, there are times when they are off a little here and there but overall they are pretty good. The bus drivers even sit and wait sometimes if they are running ahead of time.

It is a tricky thing and I wouldn't expect them to always be on time. A wheelchair getting on/off can throw off the schedule. Weather can throw off the schedule.

I think a GPS enabled system of checking where the buses are would be great but that would cost a few bucks the county doesn't have. Berlin has a great system of posting the times until the next bus arrives which leaves out guesswork but that could also be inaccurate if the bus got held up due to a traffic accident. There is no perfect world but in all the time which I've used the bus I have no complaints except against some of the idiots that ride it.

I also have to put in a thx to a driver of the #10 who knew me as a regular at a certain time. I was running late and he actually held the bus for me a minute knowing I was coming.

I wish more people would take advantage of the great transit system we have here.

The Transit Riders Union said...

Thanks for the mention. Feel more than welcome to attend the meeting on the 28th and bring this up. We'll be talking about these sorts of issues. Oh, and tell anyone you think would be interested in attending. We need all of the help we can get.

Thanks again,

-Sam Jensen, the Milwaukee Transit Riders Union

Paul said...

I'm from St. Louis and I just visited Milwaukee over the weekend.
Milwaukee has very cool designed bus stops! Maybe if St. Louis had bus stops like yours our Metro Bus system wouldn't seem like it's only for lower income riders.