County sets discounted bus fares for children

Rate adjustment comes as GoRiteway takes over Express service that officials had considered ending
ozaukee Press staff

Children aged 6 to 18 can ride the Ozaukee County Express commuter bus for $3 one way under a plan approved last week by county supervisors.

The children’s fare matches that charged by the county Shared Ride Taxi service.

A children’s fare was not established in November when the county contracted with GoRiteway to take over the bus service from the Milwaukee County Transit System, which offered a discounted fare for children.

A child younger than 5 can ride for free if accompanied by an adult. An additional child riding with the same adult will be charged the $3 child rate.

Seniors and adults with disabilities are charged the same rate as children.

MCTS had agreements with some local colleges to offer discounted passes. Other college students were charged the adult rate of $5 each way.

Monthly passes are $140 for adults and $90 for children, seniors and adults with disabilities.

The Ozaukee County Express currently has no agreements with colleges to offer discounted passes.

“A separate rate for college students is not recommended at this time,” county Transit Supt. Joy Neilson-Loomis told members of the county Public Works Committee.

Neilson-Loomis said she plans to “definitely” reach out to local colleges.

“We want to at least let them know we are ready to work with them” to provide discounted passes to students.

GoRiteway took over operation of the commuter bus service on Jan. 2. The company also took over operation of the Shared Ride Taxi, which had  been run by Specialized Transportation Services.

Neilson-Loomis said the transition has so far gone smoothly.

“They did an excellent job at getting in there quickly and getting staffed. Most of the buses have been nearly full,” she said, noting that GoRiteway uses smaller buses than MCTS did.

MCTS declined to continue running the express service. Specialized Transportation did bid to keep running the taxi, but supervisors opted to have both services run by one vendor.

Supervisors considered shutting down the commuter bus due to low ridership, but the vast bulk of the funds to operate the bus, at an annual cost of $2.48 million, are paid for with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds earmarked for that purpose.

The fares charged by the county do not come close to covering the per-ride cost of $47, Neilson-Loomis told supervisors.

The county has $4.9 million in ARPA funds available. That money must be spent by 2027 and may only be used for transit operations. They may not be used on capital expenditures, such as vehicles.

Neilson-Loomis said it would be impossible to spend that much money on the heavily used Shared Ride Taxi alone by 2027 but it could be used up by freeway flyer operations.

Faced with the use-it-or-lose-it nature of the funds, supervisors agreed in November to continue to operate the bus for two more years.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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