Hopping into Winter: Milwaukee's streetcar is ready for the cold

Hopping into Winter: Milwaukee’s streetcar is ready for the cold

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Freezing conditions and snow have brought streetcars to a standstill around the nation, but Milwaukee Streetcar officials say they've learned from other cities' issues. 

After one month up and running, more and more people have been riding The Hop. Ridership for The Hop has been much higher than expected in its first month. MSOE Student Savannah Evans has been riding Milwaukee's streetcar, instead of her bike in the cold. 

"I've been riding it a lot. It's really easy to get to school because I go to MSOE," said Evans.

But, for some other cities traveling in frigid temperatures is a different story. Last winter, freezing temperatures stopped Kansas City's streetcar from running because of ice on the wires. In Cincinnati, they pulled four streetcars off the line because they failed to run in frigid weather. These problems are something that Milwaukee has prepared for from the start. Officials with The Hop have studied streetcars in Toronto and Detroit. Milwaukee and Detroit have the same streetcar model.

"They're operating in very similar climate weather that we get in the winter time. They're a full year ahead of us and prove that it works in snow," said Jeff Polenske, Commissioner of Public Works.

While ice could build up on the wires, it should not impact The Hop's service. 

"There are certain mechanisms in place to be able to help scrape the ice, those wires," Polenske said. 

Streetcar operators are also trained to make sure service runs smoothly during the cold weather. 

"It's a wonderful ride, you see more of downtown and it makes me want to come back," said one streetcar rider.

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