Despite the ire of Republicans in the state legislature and the withering opinions of dudes on Facebook who list “School of Hard Knocks” as their education, a whole lot of folks rode the Milwaukee streetcar a few weekends ago.

On Tuesday, the streetcar–a.k.a. The Hop—released some impressive ridership numbers for the weekend of July 13-16–a.k.a. the weekend of both the Harley-Davidson Homecoming Festival and Bastille Days. It was a busy weekend! Those numbers are:

• Over 18,000 rides (4,557/day from 7/13-16)

• 6,883 rides on Sat – 4th highest day in Hop history

• 4,318 rides on Fri – also among our top-15 all-time days

“Part of what makes weekends like these so important is that a lot of new riders are introduced to the benefits of convenient and accessible transit,” said Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson in a press release, “and that will go a long way towards not only turning new riders into repeat riders but also bolstering our broader efforts to support transit and build safer streets.”

And that’s not all. Per The Hop’s ridership chart, a total of 50,293 folks rode the streetcar in June 2023. That’s the biggest ridership month since January 2020! Neat!

But yeah, nearly five years into The Hop’s existence (it launched in November 2018), the lil’ 2.1-mile downtown streetcar remains hilariously controversial. Republicans in the state legislature singled it out in their recent shared revenue deal with the city, preventing Milwaukee from spending any new sales tax revenue on it. And you better believe random Facebook commenters have strong and well-informed opinions, too! (See the comments on this Facebook post, probably.)

Our opinion? The Hop is fine. It’s a nice downtown amenity that should probably go to more downtown places—we have a popular new basketball arena, right?—before expanding to other neighborhoods or the airport or whatever. (A new “Lakefront Line” will launch when that big Couture tower is finally finished.) And it’s frustrating that The Hop continues to dominate the public transportation conversation when the Milwaukee County Transit System—a.k.a. the bus—is in real trouble.

The (county-run) bus tallied more than 15.5 million rides in 2022. So hooray for the (city-run) streetcar—we like it!—but don’t forget to #SaveTheBus!

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