MCTS set to launch WisGO April 1

March 30, 2023
The new account-based platform will allow for easier regional mobility and enable fare capping on WisGo accounts.

Milwaukee County Transit System’s (MCTS) new fare collection system, WisGo, is ready for its official launch on April 1. The system will ease regional mobility with a goal of expanding throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

The WisGo account-based system has been more than a year in development and is supported through a contract with the Umo Mobility Platform by Cubic Transportation Systems. The phased roll out of WisGo started in March with the availability of the Umo app, followed by the system going live on April 1 and continuing with a regional expansion of the platform.

Validators have been installed on all buses, and riders will have until September 2023 to transition to WisGo.

Fare capping

The arrival of WisGo will bring a new fare structure and the start of fare capping to MCTS. Regular fare riders will be charged $2 per ride, with caps at $4 per day and reduced fare riders will be charged $1 per ride, with a cap of $2 per day. MCTS will cease use of the daily, weekly or monthly passes previously required to earn a discount. To benefit from fare capping, riders will need to pay with a WisGo card, WisGo Reduced Fare Card or through the UMO App. Cash is still accepted on board vehicles, but riders will not be able to take advantage of fare capping. WisGo cars are being distributed for free at designated locations.

“MCTS has introduced a more equitable fare payment system. Historically, only those who could afford to pre-purchase discount passes to ride the bus got the best value, but with WisGo, these inequities are being addressed through fare capping. Now, everyone pays the same rates no matter how many times they ride,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor and Chairwoman of the Committee on Transportation and Transit Priscilla Coggs-Jones.

“Our partnership with MCTS gives riders a more equitable travel experience, and we are proud to be part of the evolution of mobility in Milwaukee,” added Bonnie Crawford, vice president and general manager of Cubic’s Umo. “Simplifying public transit has a positive, long-term impact on the overall rider experience. We can’t wait for Wisconsinites to try WisGo.”

Regional mobility

WisGo will also bring the dawn of simplified regional mobility to the area by allowing transfers to partners that join the program. The first to join is Waukesha County, where riders on MCTS and Waukesha Metro can easily transfer between county services using WisGo.

“Employers continually express the need for employees and simplified ways for their employees to get to work. Adding Waukesha Metro to the WisGo system is another important way to help employers and employees throughout the region by making it easier for all to get to their jobs using transit,” said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly.

“I applaud Waukesha Metro’s decision to be the first to make transit in the region easier through one, simplified payment system consistent with Milwaukee County’s transit system. The decision reinforces public transit is essential to linking the economy not just to one metro area, but across the whole state. Our two communities share a deep commitment to supporting transit as a key component to a thriving workforce and a strong economy,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

Milwaukee County Transit System Chief Financial Officer Tim Hosch encourages riders to give the mobile app a try.

“The first thing we ask our riders to do is to download the Umo app. Using an app is how many people do their everyday tasks such as pay for local parking or buy movie tickets, and now, buy bus fare. Cash is always an option, but the Umo app has many more perks, like detour alerts sent directly to your phone, real-time bus tracking and auto reload in the online wallet, so you don’t have to worry about your balance,” said Hosch.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.