Transportation Alert: “Job Lines” Buses Under Threat

Mental Health Task Force/ Make It Work Milwaukee Update

Funding for the bus system and other transportation has been a priority for our coalitions, as so many people with mental illness and other disabilities rely on the bus system to maintain their independence and ability to live in the community, and it is key to maintaining employment. Transit is also essential for many direct care providers to get to work.

We wanted to share this Update regarding a threat to funding for Milwaukee buses and a call to action:

Funding for buses that transport 28,000 workers to suburban jobs will soon be lost.

Milwaukee residents living in zip codes 53205, 53206, 53208, 53209, 53210, 53212, 53216, 53218, 53233 are in danger of losing an important lifeline. The Milwaukee County Transit System’s (MCTS) bus routes 6 and 61 – also known as the JobLines – will disappear from these nine urban zip codes at the end of 2018, unless new funding sources are found.

The JobLines routes were established in 2014 as a settlement with the Wisconsin and U.S. Departments of Transportation, the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin (BHCW) and Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) to aid in transporting individuals living in urban neighborhoods to employment opportunities in Waukesha and Washington Counties.

Route 6 runs west along Capitol Drive to Moorland Rd. and south through several New Berlin industrial parks. Route 61 runs northwest along W. Appleton Avenue into a busy business district in Menomonee Falls.

If you are unsure about the impact of losing these two bus lines, consider this:

  • The JobLines routes provide reliable transportation to 28,000 residents in these zip codes where nearly 20 percent do not have access to a car for work.

  • Ridership on the JobLines is healthy and is growing. Currently, about 1,000 daily riders depend on the JobLines to connect them with good-paying jobs at over 150 employers in New Berlin, Brookfield and Menomonee Falls.

  • Residents also rely on the routes to get them to shopping, doctor appointments, workforce training centers, church, job interviews, child care, school, and more.

  • Businesses in the New Berlin industrial parks, which already need workers for current jobs, expect to expand and hire more workers as they begin filling orders for Foxconn.

  • The JobLines routes would be excellent feeder lines for the proposed Milwaukee-to-Foxconn commuter bus route.

In short, transportation has a ripple effect on the economic health of the entire area it serves. Imagine the crippling effect on your daily routine if you did not have access to a car. It’s something most of us take for granted.

So, what do we tell the inner-city residents at the end of 2018 when their transportation lifeline is cut off? What do we tell businesses that suffer due to losing access to employees and customers? What do we tell taxpayers who become disenchanted with the area’s growing blight?

What we can tell people and business owners is to speak up NOW:

1. Sign the online petition to keep the JobLines routes alive:

2. Attend “THE JOBS ARE ON THE LINE” Community Rally on May 19, 2018 at The Wisconsin Black Historical Society from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Encourage others to attend to build community support for the JobLines.

3. Spread the word about the importance of JobLines to our communities. Talk often with elected officials, faith leaders, activists and local community organizations. The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin and Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope meet regularly with MCTS to discuss the JobLines bus routes and other transportation issues. We invite area businesses and community leaders to invest in and commit to JobLines as well.

The Rev. Marilyn Miller is the Pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church and President of the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope, and Jim Addison is the President & CEO of the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin.

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on April 14, 2018

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