by Mrinal Gokhale
The Black Health Coalition (BHC) and MICAH Empowers have officially started their “New Routes. New Moves. Transits & Routes Go Together” campaign, promoting three new MCTS bus routes going to New Berlin, Menomonee Falls and Germantown.
“Now, people from the inner city can apply for jobs out in Germantown, New Berlin and Menomonee Falls, since they have transportation,” said Reverend Willie Brisco, president of MICAH Empowers, a multi-racial Milwaukee interfaith organization.
He added that these new routes are particularly beneficial in making jobs available, given that Milwaukee has one of the highest African- American male unemployment rates in the country.
“The lack of jobs is the downfall of the city, because those living in poverty are less mobile due to lack of cars,” he said.
In 2013, BHC and MICAH Empowers sued the state in 2013 for implementing zoo interchange construction without consulting the African-American community first, hindering transportation for people who took busses passing the zoo.
As a result of the lawsuit, MICAH and BHC got 13.5 million to use in four-year increments to advertising the new routes. MCTS and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will help decide how the routes operate. MICAH and BHC have hired the firms Maldonado and Morgan and Versant Communications, whose contracts will expire in July 2016.
“By July 2016, we will draft another RFP for less fortunate advertisers and other firms to give them a chance to help us,” said Brisco.
Brisco said that there have been television commercials promoting the route going to New Berlin’s industrial park and it is so far successful.
“The TV advertisements began last year for New Berlin and some people are now working out there,” said Brisco. “Milwaukee’s suburbs are affluent and because since there’s no business penetrating the industrial parks there by people who can’t drive from the city, we can now create opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed.”
CEO of Maldonado and Morgan, Wisconsin’s only Minority Business Entrepreneur (MBE) certified agency, Julio Maldonado said they’ve teamed up with Versant Communications, creating newspaper inserts, radio advertisements, TV commercials, a page on the MCTS website, and social media advertising the routes.
“Versant will get eighty-five percent of the $400,000, and we get the rest since we’re the minority part of it,” said Maldonado.
Maldonado went on to say that their advertising has been impactful so far based on their data collected.
“We meet weekly and gather statistics, and we’re seeing more ridership in those routes. Many people taking the routes to work say they live in Milwaukee’s north side,” he said. Brisco, who has been the president of MICAH Empowers since 2010, said that this campaign was the first legal endeavor he underwent with the BHC. He said that the routes started in 2014 as a part of the judgment and are expected to run until 2018.
“MICAH and the ACLU have always partnered to create equality to Milwaukee’s poorest areas,” he said. “We feel these new routes are a winwin for everyone.”
The Black Health Coalition could not be reached for comment.
A schedule of the bus routes along with nearby employers can be found online at http://www.ridemcts.com/routes-schedules/new-routes-new-moves-. The Facebook can be found at https://www.facebook.com/newroutesnewmoves.