As it shops for vendors, county may hike taxi, bus fares

Fees for shared ride, freeway flyer services would increase under plan favored by committee
Ozaukee Press staff

Riding the Ozaukee County Shared Ride Taxi or the Ozaukee County Express freeway flyer may get more expensive for most riders beginning next year under a plan proposed last week by the county’s Public Works Committee.

The fare structure changes are necessary because the contracts with the private vendors who operate each system will be over at the end of this year. The county is in the process of soliciting proposals from prospective vendors.

Changes in the Shared Ride Taxi also are necessary to make the fare schedule compatible with Washington County’s since riders can cross county lines, Transit Supt. Joy Neilson-Loomis said.

The taxi service fares are currently based on travel between four zones and range from $3.25 to $7, plus charges for transferring to the Washington County system or to the Ozaukee County Express bus service.

The new fare schedule will be based on mileage and range from $3.50 for a five-mile or less trip to $8 for trips over 20 miles, which are rare given the size of the county, officials said.

The cost of a transfer to a Washington County taxi would be reduced from $5 to $3 under the new schedule. A transfer to the freeway flyer would stay the same at $2.

The taxi service is used by families with small children who need to be picked up from school, people with no other way to get to work, senior citizens needing a ride to their doctor or for shopping and adults with disabilities.

“We try to meet everyone’s needs,” Neilson-Loomis said, adding that 62% of taxi patrons have annual household incomes of less than $30,000.

Committee member Michelle Gooden said the service’s priority should be the elderly and disabled.

Fifty percent of riders on the express bus service, which primarily serves commuters to downtown Milwaukee, have household incomes of more than $100,000 and only 6% have incomes of less than $59,000, Neilson-Loomis said.

The current one-way express fare is $3.50. Neilson-Loomis suggested lowering the fare to $3 one way to increase ridership.

The committee voted to recommend that the fare be increased to $5 one way, which would lower the county’s expenses by about $10,000, although what effect the increased fare would have on federal and state funding for the program is unknown.

Any changes in fares must be approved by the full County Board.

The express service currently serves about 45 riders a day, Neilson-Loomis said.

A survey of riders showed that the majority would continue to ride the bus and pay the higher fare.

Neilson-Loomis, however, said the $5 fare would cost a rider more than what it costs to park downtown, which averages $37.81 per week.

Many riders, however, are reimbursed by their employers for riding the bus and any increased cost is still offset by the convenience, committee Chairman Marty Wolf said.

The Milwaukee County Transit System, or MCTS, currently operates the Ozaukee County Express but has notified the county it will no longer do so in 2023.

Three vendors have expressed interest in taking over the service, county officials have said. The deadline for submitting proposals is the end of this month.

Officials have suggested cutting the number of runs and using smaller buses to cut costs and make the service viable.



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

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.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login