For those of us with different accessibility needs, getting around town can be full of challenges and uncertainty. Will the bus stop be accessible? Is Uber WAV available yet in this area? (It is not in Milwaukee.) Will one of those potholes finally swallow me whole? Fortunately, Milwaukee’s newest mode of public transportation, the streetcar system dubbed the Hop, is the most accessible option yet!
Beginning operation in November 2018, its initial phase runs from the lower east side, through downtown and the Third Ward, ending at the Amtrak station. With streetcars running every 15-20 minutes, the next ride is never far away. The schedule can be found on their website, here. There is also an app that provides real time tracking information, but I have found it to be rather janky so far. To ride, you simply go to one of the system’s elevated platform stations, which are all equipped with a smooth, gradual ramp and railings, and hop on. The doors open automatically and the gap between the platform and the streetcar is very narrow, making getting on and off extremely easy. Once onboard, there are multiple areas designated for accessibility for you to park yourself, no straps, belts, or tie downs necessary, and there is an automated route map to show where you are headed. The Hop is free to ride for the first year of operation, thanks to Potawatomi, and possibly longer thanks to the upcoming 2020 DNC convention.
While the project was a controversial one to get off the ground, ridership has remained strong since service began. With a stop not far from where I live, the streetcar has proved an easy, fun way to get to the Third Ward and down to the Amtrak station for Chicago trips. As summer approaches and with the lakefront line scheduled to begin service next year (with plans for other extensions already in the works), I look forward to the expansion of such an accessible mode of transportation.
If you are lucky, you might even get to ride the Bucks-themed streetcar, specially decked out to honor their playoff run!