With service attracting more than 113,000 patrons, county plans to add stops
Participation in Ozaukee County’s shared-ride taxi service reached a record high in 2016, and three more stops in Milwaukee County are being added.
Ridership reached 113,569 last year, a 4% increase from 2015 and a 52% leap from 2010, which had nearly 75,000 riders.
Three-fourths of riders using the service are elderly or disabled, County Public Works Director Jon Edgren told the Public Works Committee last month.
Billed service hours in 2016 increased by 5%, but total costs only went up 2.7% and net costs just .73%, according to a report to the committee.
The service got its highest fare box recovery ever, and buying fuel in bulk set the price per gallon at $1.75, Transit Supt. Jason Wittek said.
The county pays the state fuel tax but not sales tax, Edgren said.
Fuel efficiency reached a record in 2016, with the service getting 14.05 miles per gallon, up from 12.9 in 2015. Fuel cost was down by nearly $40,000.
Some of the savings is due to newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Since 2015, the county replaced six Crown Victorias that got 19 miles per gallon with six hybrid vehicles that get 52 mpg.
Nearly 15,000 gallons of fuel totaling $25,000 was saved in 2016 due to fleet upgrades the past three years, according to a report to the committee from Wittek.
The service this year is replacing four of its vehicles and adding two hybrid cars to bring the fleet to 28 vehicles.
Three wheelchair-accessible mini-buses are being replaced, along with one rear-load wheelchair-accessible mini-van, which replaces a wheelchair-accessible mini-bus.
The old mini-bus gets nine miles per gallon while the new mini-van gets 25. Total cost for the vehicles is $240,000. Ozaukee County Transit Service has $275,000 in this year’s budget for vehicle replacements, the report said.
Ridership is continuing to climb. Wittek said that January had 10,218 riders, the biggest month in history of the taxi service. Ridership in January 2016 was 9,448 and the high for the year was 9,968 in March.
Numbers were aided by three additional stops in Milwaukee County this year.
The committee approved the boundary changes after a yearlong study with input from businesses, nonprofit agencies, education organizations and other governmental agencies.
In addition, the committee expanded the service by one hour from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays to accommodate second and third-shift workers.
The shared-ride taxi service could be merged with Washington County’s service, County Administrator Tom Meaux said.
The counties last year merged their public health departments.
The county’s express bus service had 80,601 riders in 2016, up 5% from 2015, but its third-lowest total since 1998.
Billed service hours and total costs were both down 1%, while net costs fell by 2%.
Wittek said the goal is to keep making the bus more attractive for casual riders. From Cedarburg, the bus can get to downtown Milwaukee in 22 minutes.
“That’s a pretty good deal,” Wittek said.
Summerfest ridership, with stops in Saukville and Grafton, returned to a normal level after bus drivers went on strike from July 1 to 3 in 2015. Ridership was 25,872 in 2016, up from 15,558 in 2015.
In 2014, the county started using Milwaukee County Transit Service buses exclusively to save on capital replacement costs.
For taxi and bus rates and more information, go to www.ozaukeetransit.com.