New Berlin -- Milwaukee County Transit System buses that take inner city riders to jobs in the suburbs are back, and local officials want everybody to know it.
The two JobLines serve businesses in New Berlin and Menomonee Falls. A press conference was held last week to christen the lines, known before as routes 6 and 61, as the new JobLines to reflect its role in bringing people who want to work to jobs. The route to New Berlin has been going about two years and the one to Menomonee Falls for nearly that long.
The New Berlin route provided 200 rides per day in September. The route goes from Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive to BuySeasons, 5915 S Moorland Road, in New Berlin, stopping at various businesses in between.
The full route to BuySeasons that needs hundreds of seasonal workers takes an hour and 13 minutes.
While anyone can ride the JobLines, the name reflects the vast majority of riders who use them to get to jobs, said Brendan Conway, chief transit system marketing and communications officer. The 200 rides in September for the New Berlin line could boil down to 25 riders who ride the bus back and forth to work every day. The actual number of people riding the bus could be higher because some workers might get dropped off at work and take the bus home, he said.
Also, the number of riders fluctuates. Total rides for last September was 250 and for October was 450. The October total for this year is not available.
In any case, officials and employers looking for workers want to increase the number of riders by letting more people know that the job buses are back. A shuttle ran along Moorland Road, but it has been absent for many years, Conway said.
Businesses say they need the workers the JobLines bring. Michael Crowley, Waukesha County Board supervisor and vice president of Midland Plastics in New Berlin, said his firm just expanded and it has 15 job openings.
"Word needs to get out to businesses as well as people seeking jobs that there are jobs in Waukesha County," he said.
The New Berlin JobLines bus passes more than 130 businesses that have jobs to fill, both skilled and unskilled, he said.
Businesses can use
While businesses can use information about the JobLines availability in their employment ads, they also can use it to advantage at a job fair in Milwaukee County, an idea that developed at last week's press conference, said Crowley who supports the concept.
"It would give applicants the opportunity to apply and be made aware of jobs along the route," Crowley said.
The job fair idea came about in a conversation he had with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Crowley said. He advocated for transportation linking people in the inner city looking for jobs with opportunities in Waukesha County during the more than five years he was president of the former New Berlin Economic Development Corporation, he said.
Where it goes
After starting at Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive, the JobLines New Berlin route travels west on Capitol to Mayfair Road where it turns south on its way to Blue Mound Road. It goes west on Blue Mound to Moorland Road where it turns south ending at Small Road, where Buy Seasons is located.
On the way, it passes FedEx. Even though it's 57 minutes from the starting point, a FedEx employee who is a single mother, said the route has been a Godsend. It is an affordable way for her to get to her family-supporting job, she said at the press conference.
The fare is $2.25 each way or $1.75 on the system's smart card known as MCARD. Seven-day passes are $17.50 and 31-day passes are $64. Both allow unlimited rides.
The cost to run the New Berlin JobLines is $590,000 annually, paid by the state of Wisconsin through a settlement of a lawsuit, Conway said. The Black Health Coalition and the Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope sued the state over the Zoo Interchange, saying that there was not enough provision for mass transit going out to jobs in Waukesha County. The Menomonee Falls route also is funded by the settlement.