Politics & Government
1:42 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

County Board Looking for More Routes, Cheaper Fares from Future Transit Manager

Milwaukee County is looking for a new managerial partner to take over running the county buses.
Milwaukee County is looking for a new managerial partner to take over running the county buses.

The future management of the Milwaukee Country Transit system is still in flux.  The for-profit Dallas-based MV Transportation emerged as the leading bidder in the process. 

If the contract is approved, MV would take over from the non-profit Milwaukee Transport Services, which has operated the system for years.

But that remains an if – legal appeals have been filed over the bidding process, which remains in limbo for the time being.

Eventually, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors will take up the contract with whichever company is tentatively selected.

Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic says although the county owns the bus system, they will be looking for a new managerial partner.

“It’s already a private-public partnership,” Dimitrijevic says. “The county owns the buses and the fleet, it’s a public asset, but we work with someone to privately manage it. We have to have expectations of that management, that they are providing the best customer service possible, that the riders feel safe and secure, and that we are making those important connections around Milwaukee County.”

Dimitrijevic says there are three big frustrations with how the system is operated currently:

  1. There is no dedicated funding source.
  2. State and federal funds are drying up.
  3. Milwaukee County has to decide how to solve routing problems, especially when trying to reach out to suburbs.

While they sift out potential partners, the county will be looking for cheaper fares, more routes, and plans on how to expand their system, especially to job centers.

MCTS will be holding public hearings to get the public’s input.

Affordable Care Act

Dimitrijevic also is proposing to put $1.1 million towards helping Milwaukee residents find health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

For every million Milwaukee County residents, nearly 140,000 individuals need health insurance. Dimitrijevic says those who do not have insurance often use emergency services, creating costly fees that get passed along to all payers.

Funding for her plan will come from the projected $6 million surplus that the state will gain in 2013.  The funds will be allocated into communication, outreach, and 211 Impact, a hotline that residents can call with questions. A national hotline will be established, but will likely be flooded with calls. Milwaukee is side-stepping this by creating its own.

Dimitrijevic says the board acknowledges that the county does have a role in providing assistance and that county resources need to be put towards healthcare.

Marina Dimitrijevic was elected Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman in 2012. She is the youngest person in the history of Milwaukee County, and only the second woman, to hold that office.