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How to ride in (and around) Milwaukee's new streetcar

It’s been years in the making, but Milwaukeeans will finally have the opportunity to climb on board the highly-anticipated (and occasionally controversial) streetcar next month.

On Nov. 2, The Hop MKE streetcar will run its very first publicly-accessible routes from 1 p.m. to midnight starting with a noon kickoff event at Cathedral Square Park. The celebration is set to last all weekend, with businesses along the route offering specials on Nov. 3 and an assortment of family-friendly events set up at each station on Nov. 4.

Since this is all very new to Milwaukee, here are some tips that will ensure your initial trips on The Hop are as enjoyable and safe as possible.


Catching a ride

There are 18 stations that span from the downtown Milwaukee Intermodal Station, to the Burns Commons on the lower East Side. The stations are divided between two routes that both begin and end at the same points. The Hop’s website has an interactive map that allows you to explore all station locations through both a map setting and a satellite setting. While there is currently no handy phone app like the one for the Milwaukee County Transit System, the City is currently exploring a variety of solutions to provide real-time arrival information. A streetcar will arrive at every station every 10 or 15 minutes depending on the time and day of the week. Its up to the discretion of the operator and dispatcher to determine whether or not the streetcar will stop at each platform even if there are no passengers awaiting pick up. Passengers should use the on-board request stop buttons to signal to the operator if they'd like to get off at the next station.

Hours of operation 

The streetcar will operate Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. arriving every 15 minutes; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. arriving every 10 minutes; and 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. arriving every 15 minutes. On Saturdays, the streetcar will run 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. arriving every 15 minutes. On Sundays, the streetcar will run 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. arriving every 15 minutes.

Pricing and purchasing tickets

Thanks to thePotawatomi Hotel & Casino, the streetcar’s corporate sponsor, the first year of the streetcar’s operations will be completely free to the public. No swiping, no ticketing, just get in.

After the initial 12-month period, the expected fare is anticipated to be just $1. There are no fareboxes on board the streetcar, so passengers should anticipate purchasing tickets off-vehicle. Fare inspectors will be on board to randomly check passengers for valid streetcar passes.


The streetcar is equipped with extra wide passenger doors that allow easy access for passengers using wheelchairs, scooters, personal shopping carts, bicycles, strollers and rolling luggage. There are no wheelchair ramps on the streetcar – instead, the streetcar is level with the curb at each of the 18 stations, allowing wheel-dependent passengers to board easily. While on board, wheelchairs and other mobility devices are not required to be secured, but should remain in the designated standing area with any brakes locked. The vehicle features a low-floor design that is ADA compliant.

Anything with wheels should always cross the tracks at a right angle to avoid wheels getting caught in the track. That goes for wheelchairs, bikes, scooters or any other mobility device. There have already been several instances where cyclists have been thrown from their bikes due to tires becoming lodged into the tracks.

The streetcar features audio announcements, braille and designated handicapped seating. Service pets are allowed on board, but all other pets are restricted.

Bicycle storage

Like the Milwaukee County Transit System buses, the streetcar will allow for easy transportation of bicycles. However, instead of bike racks being on the front of the vehicle, the streetcar has specialized bike racks on the inside for bike storage.

Sharing the road with The Hop 

In a car:

When parking along the streetcar route, never stop on the tracks—even temporarily. Make sure your vehicle is well within the striping on the road. Pavement markings along the streetcar route will indicate certain intersections where the streetcar will be making complete turns. For these, vehicles must be a good distance from the crosswalk. While making left turns, drivers will need to pay closer attention to oncoming traffic, which may include streetcars coming from the opposite direction. Drivers should also obey "no turn on red" signs that have been implemented to ensure that streetcar operators can safely turn.

On a bike:

Cyclists should always cross the streetcar tracks as upright as possible and at a 90 degree angle. Smaller tires can easily become stuck in the tracks. Tracks also become slippery when wet. When turning left across the tracks, first enter the right lane and cross through the intersection. Then, pivot to the left to cross the tracks perpendicularly with the next green light.

Crossing the tracks as a pedestrian 

Be sure to only cross the streetcar tracks at designated crosswalks. Avoid entering the trackway from between two parked cars, as you will be difficult to spot for operators. The streetcar utilizes warning bells, so its a good idea to make sure you're listening when near the tracks.


For more information on The Hop and the grand opening events, visit The City of Milwaukee is hosting a "Hop-able" open house event on Oct. 10 at the Burns Common streetcar platform, located along E. Ogden Ave. just west of N. Prospect Ave. The event will provide an opportunity for riders to check out the accessibility and various features of the streetcar.