Planning Commission Weighs Transportation Options To & From Foxconn Plant

Mar 29, 2018

As Foxconn gets closer to breaking ground in Racine County, the next task is to determine how people who don’t live near the LCD screen plant might get to the campus.

Representatives of the regional planning commission outlined potential options -- and costs -- at a public transportation review board meeting Wednesday in Milwaukee.

Kevin Muhs, deputy director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, gave a presentation to transportation review board members, showing bus routes lined by color. The graphic indicated where the buses would run and the stops between.

Muhs said the regional planning commission looked at plans to include park and ride lots south of downtown Milwaukee along the route.

"The route that we drew up and analyzed would connect downtown Milwaukee, essentially along Wisconsin Avenue to two park and ride lots, and then head south to the Foxconn site from there. There is a branch of the route that also would connect downtown Racine and their transit center as well as some of the neighborhoods in Racine south of their transit center to the Foxconn site as well," he said.

The main reason the route would go down Wisconsin Avenue, Muhs said, is because it’s at the heart of the Milwaukee County Transit System - making sure any transfers would be easy for riders.

He said the planning commission also estimated how long it would take for workers to get from Milwaukee to the Foxconn factory in Mount Pleasant: "Travel times on this route would be, obviously dependent on congestion but roughly 40-55 minutes. So that is largely due to the fact that you are making a couple stop in the middle for those College Ave and Holt Ave park and ride lots, but then also just the impact of congestion depending on when the shift times are at Foxconn."

The commission drew up the plan based on preliminary information from Foxconn, where the company outlined that it would have two 12-hour work shifts.

The buses would be timed to take people to the start of their shift, stay at the plant, and pick them up once the shift is over.

According to Muhs, the base adult fare could be $4. That's the rate currently paid on the commuter bus between downtown Milwaukee and downtown Racine.

Yet he pointed out unknown factors related to cost. For instance, he says someone would have to foot the bill for the buses.

"If the county was to use the standard MCTS buses, they would need to purchase additional buses. There’s a good chance that the shift, one or the other, those shift changes could occur during peak times when the county already has basically their entire fleet out on the road. And so they would need to purchase additional buses and that would be the standard 35, 36 seat 40-ft city buses that the county uses."

Muhs said those additional buses would cost about $500,000 each.

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman, chair of the transportation review board, questioned whether using the train system could be a better option, saying travel is more efficient and trains could fit more people.

He said it would be possible to add capacity to Amtrak trains, if there was demand.

However, Muhs said a number of factors would go into determining the cost of rail travel to the Foxconn plant -- including the potential need to add more trains, and the personnel to operate them.