Updated 3:10 p.m.
The City of Milwaukee says daily ridership on The Hop increased last month, compared to November 2018, the streetcar's initial month of service. But monthly ridership declined slightly in December.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the daily December average was 2,453 rides, compared to 2,297 in November.
READ: How The Hop Works
He says 76,044 rides took place in December, compared to 76,125 in November. Service started Nov. 2, amid great fanfare for the opening weekend. Barrett says the highest single day ridership was 4,882 on Dec. 15.
The Hop operates between 4th Street and St. Paul Avenue on the western edge of its route, to Prospect and Ogden Avenues on the East Side. Ridership is free for the first 12 months of operation, because of sponsorship by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.
Barrett discussed the ridership numbers at a Tuesday afternoon news conference — and he's pleased the December numbers are above city projections of about 1,800 per day.
"Clearly, what we are seeing is people who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity to use mass transit in the heart of the city of Milwaukee," he said.
Barrett says he's also pleased that December saw about a 300 jump in average number of rides on Monday and Tuesday: "And the reason that's important, is that we think that's going to be the number of people who ride it for school or work, to go to doctor's appointments — things like that."
He acknowledges the winter has been relatively mild so far, and that colder weather in January may drive down ridership numbers for The Hop.
"I'm expecting that if it's 10-below zero that you're not going to have a lot of people out doing anything in the city of Milwaukee, and that's to be expected, " Barrett said. "So, I don't stand here and say these numbers are going to grow for January and February because we are in Wisconsin and we know that when's it cold, they're not likely to be out waiting for a Hop, or waiting for anything."
The mayor says work continues to begin service next year on an extension of The Hop to the lakefront along East Michigan and Clybourn Streets. He says discussions continue on potentially expanding service to the Fiserv Forum and the Bronzeville area north of downtown, possibly to be funded by federal money the city is seeking.
Barrett says the city is working with the Potawatomi to see if the free rides can be extended. The city and hotel/casino complex have a $10 million sponsorship agreement that lasts 12 years, but the deal for free rides expires in November.
"We'd love to see other businesses, or other entities step forward," Barrett said.
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