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City of Milwaukee won’t charge to ride the streetcar in November

NOW: City of Milwaukee won’t charge to ride the streetcar in November

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The City of Milwaukee will not start charging fees to ride The Hop in November.

Now, Common Council members are asking where the money will come from.

Fares for the first year of operation are being paid by Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. That year ends in November.

The Hop will still receive $800,000-850,000 in 2020 from Potawatomi to help cover costs, but it needs $4.3 million to operate the streetcar each year.

When asked about where the rest of the money will come from at a city meeting, the systems manager says they are working to get additional funding, but he didn’t give specifics.

“We’ve identified really three ways that businesses could be a partner with The Hop,” Streetcar systems manager Dave Windsor said. “We are confident that we will start generating more revenue through ads and sponsorship.”

Another concern is the equipment to collect fares on the street car. Right now, The Hop is not equipped, but the systems manager says there is $400,000 budgeted to install the equipment.

Meanwhile, Mayor Barrett isn't thinking about shutting down the streetcar. He insists it needs to be expanded.

"We obviously want the council to extend the line to approve what we've proposed," Barrett said. "Because what we have found is, ironically, part of our battle is that there are so many neighborhoods who want it extended to them, and we want to get it to those neighborhoods -- but we have to do so in a fiscally responsible way."

Aldermen Bob Donovan and Mark Borkowski, both long-time critics of the streetcar, released a statement Thursday calling it a "failure built on a foundation of magical thinking, wishes, and mismanagement."

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