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Update, September 2011

This page was incorporated into the current update of Suggestions from Riders.

Download here: MCTS Rider Suggestions Since 2007

Note to Milwaukee County Government

Dear County Government:

Bay View Riders offer 66 Rider-Recommended STEPS TO INCREASED TRANSIT REVENUE


66 Ideas And Growing. Add yours: Email your ideas to: Increasing Transit Revenue

Dear Supervisors, Mr. Abele, “RIDE YOUR BUS.” You are the manager. Act like a manager. Your leadership will bring the Suits on the bus in the mornings.

Fix the annual survey so you get useful information.
Talk to passengers. Talk to former passengers.

  • The annual survey does not ask what can be done to make buses better. Why not?
  • The annual survey does not interview former riders. Why not? Find out why they quit.
  • The annual survey is done by phone. Why not ride the bus with a tape recorder and ask the riders. A qualitative data survey would be much more revealing.
  • Require that every Transit employee ride the bus periodically. And bring comments to work.

Federal Transportation money made Park East Developments possible

Park East Development tax revenue belongs to Transit.
  • By resolution of Milwaukee County Board and Milwaukee Common Council. Do it now.

Reward Your friends

  • Forget the usual talk jock radio programs who hate (Hate!!) public transportation. Provide information to Public Radio (Milwaukee has FOUR - WHAD, WUWM, WMSE, WYMS) who are happy to provide their listeners with exclusive information.
  • Promote Route-Free days on public radio. Reward listeners who are already friendly to public transportation.
  • Offer specials: Free weekly pass to the first three callers…

Weekend Nights

  • Twice as many buses on Friday, Saturday nights on bar-restaurant routes
  • Friday, Saturday night bus transfers should be a hand stamp, good for the whole evening, the ride home.
  • Promote Friday, Saturday night buses with “Master Lock” level TV commercials, to convince folks this is easier than driving and drinking.
  • Friday and Saturday night buses will be Transit’s cash cows - to support the weaker routes, to build new ones.

More Passengers, Fewer Drivers.

  • Ask riders what it would take to ride more often.
  • Rail or street cars or articulated buses haul more passengers. One driver can pull several cars.

Pay for services that compete with buses.

  • Advice to the CITY: Raise parking fairs downtown. Make it economically undesirable to park a car. This will encourage people to take the bus and reduce traffic during the morning and afternoon commute. Use the money generated by the increased parking fees to offset the cost of transit.

Bus teaches riders what Milwaukee thinks about buses

  • Every bus has long areas of ad space, mostly unused. Use this space to highlight destinations on bus routes, in a way that encourages people to learn the system, and to know how buses serve us.
  • Look at the interior design of a bus and make sure it appears friendly to the new riders; encourage new riders to return by use of the ad space above the windows.
  • Encourage new riders to return by using bright interesting posters on the schedule box behind the driver.
  • Sloppy appearance of schedules and “Bus Lines Newsletter” conveys the message that no one cares about this bus and that riders are losers.
  • Bus schedules on the bus. Schedules for the route this bus is traveling. Especially easy gesture when the bus leaves a transit center.

  • On voting days, route buses to polling places.

  • Music, poetry, readings on evening buses when most riders are going out.

  • WiFi instead of Transit TV. Commuters prefer to work than to be stuck in traffic or drugged with cheap commercials.

  • Day Pass. Particularly useful to seniors who cannot go through the day without sitting and resting. Even one day a week, a “Seniors Day” - this will increase ridership.

  • Mall information booths should have up to the minute bus information. Information people should know where the bus stops are and when they will arrive.

  • Experiment - send bus through promising new routes on an experimental “free ride” basis.

  • your idea here… Email to Increasing Transit Revenue

Efficient use of total bus time. Moving buses faster along their routes

  • Make bus driver more efficient by selling transfers from bus stop kiosks, accessible by coin or credit card.
  • Transfer is read by scanner - technology is used around the world.
    (a) Faster boarding (b) Faster get-a-way from bus stop:

Wheel Chair cost saving

  • Constantly improve, promote wheel chair access.
  • Bus shelters need pictures showing a wheelchair getting on and off a bus.
  • Each time a disabled person chooses the bus over Para Transit, he or she is saving Transit about $20.

Reassuring passengers who are waiting:

  • Each bus stop will have bus-GPS driven digital clock telling rider when the next bus will arrive.
  • Each bus stop will have schedule posted. And Transit System map.

Reward Revenue Sources

  • Take the $2 million revenue gained from the unfortunate 2007 bus cuts and use it to strengthen or expand other routes.

  • Accurate count of passengers gives information to build the system
  • Give bonuses to drivers whose passenger load goes up. Passengers actually make a point of catching the bus with the friendly driver. (Friendly sells.)
  • Give awards to consistent bus riders.

    • Coffee Coupons?
    • Annual awards dinners $15 per plate includes bus pass for the following week.
    • Awards during Downtown Night Out when restaurants are competing

  • Persuade coffee vendors to participate
  • Earmark revenue from revenue positive routes to pay for marketing of the weaker routes. If all revenue is thrown into the same pot, there is no strategy for success.
  • Promote weaker routes with focused marketing. All routes feed all routes.

    • Give occasional free rides on selected routes so newbies will try the bus.
    • Take Route #11 (and others) to a food store, perhaps a detour to the Holt Street Pick & Save.
    • Route #11 could also detour into Target on Chase.
    • Route #11 should go to the airport, serving EastTown and its attractions.
    • Drop passengers with shopping carts at the door, and cross-market the service with the store:
    • Stores so served can be persuaded to reward customers with a bus ticket.

Convince car drivers to take the bus by promoting the bus as “Hip”

  • Market Bus To Work in the same way that Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin promoted successful Bike To Work Week - going to work places to recruit a proactive coordinator and get the support of management.
  • Get advice from the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin on marketing buses to bicyclists.

Use your assets. Marry buses to parks and entertainment

  • Marketing our Parks: packaged outings for families to get on a bus and visit our amazing parks.
  • Marketing with Theaters: specify the Route # bus you need to get to a specific movie or drama or dance or opera or symphony or basketball game. Market this with OnMilwaukee.COM
  • Marketing with Zoological Society: special express buses taking people directly to the zoo.
  • Express buses - not waiting for Walker’s or Barrett’s express bus plan, but just promote, run and promote some #30, #15, #14, #10 buses with fewer stops.
  • Route 11 - route it through the Pick n Save, Home Depot complex on Chase; and maybe Target (north of Oklahoma)
  • Bike racks on buses that go to County Parks.
  • Bike racks on all buses. Sooner the better.
  • Finally, Watch Your Governmental Language. When you talk buses you are either building or tearing down our bus system.

  • No one goes to surgery based on years-long discussions of cutting, bone sawing, stitching skin, bleeding and hospital death rates. SO THEREFORE
  • Stop talking taxes first.

  • Talk GOALS. Government should lead, not follow.

    Tax is not the issue; economic development, job service, and drawing industry back to the city is the issue. The financial solution will emerge when the discussion focuses on the value of what we are trying to do. A good leader will establish a vision.

A word of advice first: Our political discussion in Milwaukee County government is depressing, moribund, with hours of “dead in the water” yammering about details. Ignore the trash talking from people who don’t care about the bus.

We need positive talk and big cheers for the Milwaukee that drives the economy of the state. We need a fresh “business-like” approach to our problems. Research, fact finding, no more slogans.

Riders want and need a system we can brag about and want to board.

All steps point to one Goal: get every citizen to ride the bus Once.

Discuss with the neighbors. Join the creators of this effort by sending an email to

Last edited by Bill Sell. Based on work by bs and billsell.  Page last modified on October 10, 2011, at 10:43 AM

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