New MCTS Bus Rapid Transit line to open for service June 4: what commuters need to know

Milwaukee County Transit System’s first-ever Bus Rapid Transit line — called MCTS CONNECT — is scheduled to begin service on Sunday, June 4. Marquette Today shared the launch of the construction project with the campus community in May 2021.

The nine-mile route will feature new dedicated bus lanes. Nine state-of-the-art platform stops with improved technology features and 32 stations total will feature off-board fare collection and raised platforms for easy boarding. Eastbound and westbound stations on the Marquette University campus are located along Wisconsin Avenue at 9th Street, 12th Street and 16th Street.

Passengers can ride CONNECT 1 free from June 4 through Sept. 30 thanks to a sponsorship deal with Umo Mobility, the transit app contracted by MCTS for its new WisGo fare system.

The construction project is in its final stage as lane stripes are being painted for the dedicated bus lanes. MCTS drivers will be testing CONNECT buses along the new BRT route in the weeks leading up to the start of service on June 4. These are trial runs only—no riders will be picked up or dropped off along the route. Please be mindful of these new buses as they prepare for service.

Here is what commuters can expect in the coming weeks:


Resource: MCTS BRT Frequently Asked Questions

Dedicated bus lane installation

New dedicated bus lane installation is underway and will continue for three to four weeks. According to MCTS, the dedicated lanes keep bus schedules fast and reliable, similar to train or light rail service. CONNECT’s nine-mile route is nearly an even split between dedicated lanes and mixed traffic from downtown Milwaukee to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex in Wauwatosa.

On and near the Marquette campus, the dedicated bus lanes are along the right travel lane of the eastern portion of the route, on Wisconsin Avenue from Hawley Road to 8th Street and Plankinton Avenue to Cass Street.

Note: The marked lanes are not enforceable as dedicated lanes until permanent signage is installed. Meantime, please follow any temporary signage; if none, the lanes may be used as normal until the permanent signage is installed.

Temporary traffic control devices and signage will be in place to alert drivers and pedestrians to road work occurring along the route. Temporary “No Parking” restrictions will last no more than 1 day and will be posted no less than 48 hours prior to enforcement. Potential “No Access” to driveways will last no more than three hours and notice will be sent out ahead of time to those affected by temporary restrictions.

Please use caution when driving through these areas and plan commute times accordingly.


Resource: MCTS Dedicated Bus Lane How-To Guide

How to use dedicated bus lanes

Dedicated bus lanes will be designated using pavement markings and permanent signage. Access will be maintained to parallel parking and driveways. After yielding to buses, motorists will be permitted to enter the dedicated bus lane for right turns and parallel park in designated areas. Motorists are not allowed to travel in the dedicated bus lanes, but cyclists are.

At high-demand times, bus lanes easily move far more people than traffic lanes. To keep traffic running smoothly, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians should follow these guidelines:

For motorists:

  • After yielding to the bus, motorists may access the dedicated bus lanes to access driveways and designated parallel parking.
  • After yielding to the bus and obeying pavement markings (dashed striping), motorists may access the dedicated bus lanes to make right turns at intersections.
  • When parking in designated parking areas, make sure your entire vehicle, including side mirrors, is inside the parking lane, and use caution when opening doors as buses, bikes, and vehicles could be approaching from behind you.
  • Never park your vehicle in the bus-only lane, even temporarily.

For pedestrians:

  • Only cross the dedicated bus lanes at designated crosswalks, wait for the appropriate signals, and look in all directions before crossing the dedicated bus lanes.
  • Never cross or run in front of an approaching bus and avoid entering the dedicated bus lane from between two parked vehicles.
  • Take a break from your electronic devices. Remove your headphones so you can hear traffic in the dedicated bus lane, and don’t walk and text when crossing the BRT route.

For cyclists:

  • Cyclists are allowed to travel in the dedicated bus lane.
  • Be aware of approaching vehicles.
  • Use hand signals to indicate turning.

MCTS CONNECT fares and UPASS availability

CONNECT will be fully integrated into MCTS, and the cost to ride will be the same as the cost to ride other MCTS services. Currently, an adult MCTS fare is $2 per ride using an M-CARD or the Ride MCTS app, and $2.25 if paid in cash. The MCTS system will also accept UPASS and MCTS daily, weekly and monthly bus passes.

Passengers can ride CONNECT 1 free from June 4 through Sept. 30 thanks to a sponsorship deal with Umo Mobility, the transit app contracted by MCTS for its new WisGo fare system.

On-street parking

Due to the dedicated bus lanes, on-street parking will no longer be permitted on Wisconsin Avenue on Sundays. Parking information for Church of the Gesu parishioners and visitors is available online.

MCTS CONNECT route map


The nine-mile MCTS CONNECT Bus Rapid Transit line feature up to 17 stations to better connect major employment, education and recreation destinations through downtown Milwaukee, Marquette, the Near West Side, Wauwatosa and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Passengers will enjoy more efficient, higher frequency service through 11 battery-electric buses, dedicated bus lanes, traffic signal priority, off-board fare collection, optimized stop locations, state-of-the-art platforms that allow for easy boarding, and other amenities.

According to MCTS, the CONNECT line will average more than 9,500 weekday riders by 2035 and increase overall transit ridership in the corridor by 17 percent. Ridership will be fueled by activity generators within the half-mile station area around the preferred route including:

  • 9 colleges and universities, and 8 high schools
  • 47,000 residents
  • 120,000 jobs
  • 100+ businesses with 250 or more employees
  • 7 medical facilities
  • 25 hotels
  • Countless attractions including the county zoo, Miller Park, Milwaukee Bucks arena, art museum and Summerfest

Watch Marquette Today for updates on the new MCTS CONNECT Bus Rapid Transit line.