MilwaukeeBus SignMKE Transit

Edited by John December

This is a summary of options for transit in and around the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, with a focus on public transit systems1. Milwaukee has supported a wide range of transporation systems during its history. Streetcars, trains, bicycles, trolleys, horses, buses, boats, and people walking have all played a role in transit, and this legacy remains in some areas of downtown. Today, Milwaukee's role as a major air, rail, highway, and water hub give you many choices in getting to and around Milwaukee. Is something missing or incorrect? Please send a correction. Like this page? Bookmark this page and return when you are ready.

Travel byUse
Human
Walk Sign
Milwaukee has some great Walk Scores approaching 100 on the East Side. Indeed, it is possible to live car-free in Milwaukee.2
Bicycle
Bike Route Sign
There is a very good system of county (the "Oak Leaf Trail") and city bicycle trails. For maps and resources, check out Milwaukee By Bike.
Bike Share
Bublr Log
Bublrbikes.com is a bike-sharing program where you can pick up a bike from a self-service bike rental kiosk and return it to any other kiosk.
Auto
Auto Sign
You can use car-sharing in Milwaukee: Zipcar and Zimride for UWM provide memberships. 3
Taxi Sign You can use Uber, lyft, BidRide, TAXIMKE.com (app), or yellow pages. Cabs can be difficult to get during summer festival weekends--be prepared to use MCTS festival services or ridesharing options instead.
Van
Van Sign
Limo and van service to/from Milwaukee's Mitchell / Chicago's O'Hare or Midway airports. See Airport Connection, Airport Town Car Express, GO Riteway, or Corporate Limousine Service. Note that Milwaukee County Transit Bus GreenLine also stops at the MKE airport.
Trolley
Trolley Sign
Operated by Transit Express This is a fun way to get around the downtown area. Call 414-562-RIDE or visit MilwaukeeDowntown.com.
Streetcar
Streetcar Sign
In Development Sign
Under construction in the downtown area. See MilwaukeeStreetcar.com for the latest information on the plans.
BRT
Bus Rapid Transit Sign
In Development Sign
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Concept in development. See EastWestBRT.com for the latest information on the plans.
MCTS Bus
Bus Sign
Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS)4 serves Milwaukee County and provides transit for festivals and home games of the Brewers and Bucks. Use real-time tracking online or by text message. Plan routing using Google Transit. Phone (414)344-6711.
Wisconsin Coach
Bus Sign
Wisconsin Coach Lines connections include Milwaukee's downtown, UW-Milwaukee, Marquette Univ, MKE Airport, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Oconomowoc, Delafield, Mukwonago; and Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports. Phone (877)3-AIRPORTS.
Badger Bus
Bus Sign
Badger Bus provides rides to Madison and Milwaukee. Stops at Milwaukee's Intermodal Station as well as a stop at Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport. Phone (414)276-7490.
Greyhound Bus
Bus Sign
Greyhound offers frequent service from Milwaukee south to Chicago, west to Madison, and north to Green Bay. Greyhound's station is at Milwaukee's Intermodal Station. Phone (800)231-2222.
Megabus
Bus Sign
megabus.com connects Milwaukee to Chicago, Minneapolis/St Paul, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and more. Ticket sales online and by reservation only on Web site. Station at Milwaukee's Intermodal Station.
Ozaukee Transit
Bus Sign
Ozaukee Transit connects to Ozaukee County with stops in downtown Milwaukee. Phone (414)344-6711.
WCCE
Bus Sign
Washington County Commuter Express connects to Washington County with stops in downtown Milwaukee. Phone 1-888-675-WCCE (9223).
Indian Trails Bus
Bus Sign
Indian Trails provides service from Milwaukee north via Sheboygan and Manitowoc to Green Bay and the UP. Station at Milwaukee's Intermodal Station. Phone (800)292-3831.
Jefferson Lines
Bus Sign
Jefferson Lines provides service from Milwaukee to Green Bay and connections throughout the midwest. Bus from Milwaukee's Milwaukee's Intermodal Station. Phone (800)451-5333
Lamers
Bus Sign
Lamers Bus Lines connects north to Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Appleton, and Wausau. It also operates a regular route bus from Wausau to Milwaukee and on to Chicago. Phone (800)236-1240. Station at Milwaukee's Intermodal Station.
Waukesha Metro
Bus Sign
Waukesha Metro Transit connects in and around Waukesha city and county. You can transfer at the Brookfield Square Shopping Center between Milwaukee County Transit Service buses to Waukesha Metro Transit buses. Phone (262)524-3636.
BUS
Bus Sign
Belle Urban System (BUS) connects in and around Racine County. BUS connects with Kenosha Transit at the University of Wisconsin--Parkside when school is in session. Phone (262)637-9000.
Kenosha Transit
Bus Sign
Kenosha Transit connects in and around Kenosha County. Kenosha Transit also connects with Wisconsin Coach Lines at the Metra Station in Kenosha. Phone (262)653-4287. Also at the Metra Station in Kenosha, you can get the Metrarail service to Chicago.
Train
Train Sign
Amtrak connects to the US and Canada. Amtrak is located at Milwaukee's Intermodal Station, downtown at 5th and St. Paul Streets. (The Amtrak code is MKE for the downtown station.) There is also a Mitchell International Airport station (code is MKA). The Amtrak rail service connects Milwaukee south to Chicago via the Hiawatha and west to Minneapolis via the Empire Builder. Phone (800)872-7245.
Ship
Container Ship Sign
The Port of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan connects with the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway. Some Great Lakes cruise ships periodically stop in Milwaukee.
Ferry
Ferry Sign
The Lake Express is a high-speed ferry service across Lake Michigan from the Milwaukee terminal at 2330 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive, near the south end of the Hoan Bridge, to Muskegon, MI. Phone (866)914-1010.
Ferry
Ferry Sign
The SS Badger car ferry crosses Lake Michigan from Manitowoc, WI (about 128 km north of Milwaukee) to Ludington, MI (the northern part of the lower Peninsula of Michigan). Phone (888)FERRY-4U.
Tour Boat
Tour Boat Sign
You can ride on tour boats on the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan. See Edelweiss, MKE Boat, and Riverwalk Boats.
Air
Airport Sign
MKE (Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport) is the largest airport in Wisconsin and connects to the US and world. The MWC Airport (Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport) is located on the northwest side of Milwaukee and serves the general aviation community.

For Further Exploration

Transit Information

Urban Development

Articles of Note

"We can achieve enormous social, economic, and environmental benefits at almost no cost simply by subsidizing people and places, not parking and cars."--The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald C. Shoup, p. 602.

"Place-based strategies that create walkable urbanism will attract the broad spectrum of talent required to build a great and vibrant economy."--The Option of Urbanism by Christopher Leinberger, p. 170.

"Having a real downtown, and, I would posit, having a sense of place at all, are not possible where the car reigns supreme."--How Cities Work by Alex Marshall, p. 183.

"If we want to make the most of our national highway program, we must keep most of the proposed expressways in abeyance until we have done two other things. We must replan the inner city for pedestrian circulation, and we must rebuild and extend our public forms of mass transportation."-- Lewis Mumford, "The Highway and the City," Architectural Record, April 1958.

"If you live in a city, you don't need to own a car."--William Clay Ford Jr., CEO, Ford Motor Company Ltd.

Footnotes

  1. I have used mass transit in New York, London, Mexico City, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing, Stockholm, Vienna, Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Seattle, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Jose, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Washington DC, Detroit, Atlanta, Baltimore, New York State's Capital District, St. Louis, Wichita KS, Honolulu HI, Madison WI, Kenosha WI, Racine WI, Waukesha WI, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I have been car-free since 1989.
  2. The Riverwalk extends along the Milwaukee River in the downtown area. The walking path along the shore of Lake Michigan stretches from Bradford Beach to the mouth of the Milwaukee River. Other good walking areas: Brady Street, The Third Ward, and Wisconsin Avenue. These places are often a bit more difficult for walking because unfortunately speed limits as well as the laws requiring automobiles to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks are not consistently obeyed in Milwaukee. Please note: as a pedestrian, use designated crosswalks, obey walk light signals, and don't suddenly move in front of cars. As a driver, you must yield to pedestrians who have started walking in crosswalks--it is not optional by law (although it is not observed by many motorists in Milwaukee). Yield to Pedestrians You might see YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS signs on various streets, but remember this law applies to every crosswalk in the State of Wisconsin, and the fine is $133. Pedestrians are regularly killed in Milwaukee (and elsewhere, around 5,000 per year in the USA). Please see the site StreetShare.org and work to make streets safe for all users of the streets--walkers, bicyclists, and drivers of automobiles, trucks, and buses.
  3. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has projects planned for southeastern Wisconsin. A big project is the $1 billion I-94 Freeway project expected to last until 2022. Taking care of the local streets is done by the City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works and the County of Milwaukee Department of Public Works.
  4. This is a very good bus system! The buses are frequent, reliable, safe, and convenient. The system offers real-time tracking online or by text message. There are services for special events--festival buses as well as special buses out to home games of the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Phone (414)344-6711. You can plan routing using Google Transit. The Milwaukee County Transit System was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award--the highest award a transit company can achieve--by the American Public Transit Association in 1987 and 1999.

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Streetcar
Streetcar Sign

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