MILWAUKEE — New dedicated bus lanes for Milwaukee first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line are starting to take shape this week, Milwaukee County Transit System announced Monday.

What You Need To Know

  • Milwaukee County Transit System will introduce the first Bus Rapid Transit line on June 4, 2023

  • MCTS announced this week they'll start the final part of that project, painting dedicated bus lanes

  • The dedicated lanes can only be used by buses and cyclists; motorists will only be able to use the lane to make right turns, turn into driveways or to parallel park

  • MCTS likened the upgrade to "train or light rail service"

MCTS said that dedicated lane stripes will be painted starting on Tuesday this week and continuing for three to four weeks. They’ll be marked with “pavement markings and permanent signage.”

It’s the final construction stage and a “significant component” in the rollout of the BRT project, or MCTS CONNECT.

Once finished, MCTS said the new modernized transit route will help keep bus schedules fast and reliable. They likened the upgrade to “train or light rail service.”

“Modernizing public transit through the BRT has taken nearly 5 years to achieve,” said MCTS President and Interim Managing Director Denise Wandke. “We’re excited to introduce Milwaukee County to this enhanced travel experience. Dedicated bus lanes are proven to increase safety for not only buses and cars, but for pedestrians and cyclists, too.”

(Courtesy of Milwaukee County Transit System)

MCTS said MCTS CONNECT’s new nine-mile route will be an even split of dedicated bus lanes and mixed traffic.

Dedicated lanes will fall along the right travel lane in the eastern part of the route, or downtown Milwaukee, while the western portion, leading to Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex in Wauwatosa, will be mixed traffic.

MCTS said motorists will not be allowed to travel in the dedicated bike lanes, however after yielding to buses, they can enter it for right turns, driveway access or to parallel park in designated areas. Cyclists will be permitted in the lanes.

MCTS said it expects to start MCTS CONNECT service on June 4, 2023.

Here’s a breakdown of how to use the new lanes once they’re in service.

How to use the dedicated bus lanes


  • After yielding to a bus, motorists can access bus lanes for driveways and parallel parking. They can also access it to make right turns at an intersection by obeying dashed striping pavement markings.
  • After parking in a designated area, be sure to use caution when opening doors in case buses, bikes or vehicles are coming. Also, make sure your vehicle, including the side mirrors, are inside the parking lane.
  • Even if temporary, don’t park your vehicle in the bus-only lane


  • If you need to cross the lanes, make sure to use designated crosswalks, wait for walking signals and look in all directions before crossing
  • Avoid entering the dedicated lane from between two parked vehicles
  • Don’t cross or run in front of a bus that’s approaching
  • Be mindful of what’s going on around you by removing your headphones to hear traffic and taking a break from your devices to see what’s going on


  • Cyclists are permitted to travel within the new dedicated bus lane
  • All cyclists should still use hand signals to indicate when they’re turning and should be aware of any approaching vehicles

You can find more information on the new MCTS CONNECT program on the MCTS website.