The Jay Weber Show

The Jay Weber Show

Jay Weber knows what you want to talk about. His show examines the big issues, trends, and events at all levels -- local, state, and national -- from...Full Bio


The Hop's latest waste of money.

Jay Weber Show transcript 10-25-23 7:40am

I love this story-and I don’t know how I missed it when Mike Nichols reported it over on the Badger Institute website a few days ago.

How Milwaukee city leaders are going to start running the hop down that little extension line that leads nowhere-because it’s still a construction site.

This is the Coutour site.

But they’re only going to do it on Sundays-when no one’s riding the hop or has a need to be stuck on that route-to-nowhere.

And I know you are saying-what?  

Jay-I don’t get it. Give us that once again:

The going to start running a new route on Sundays.... That runs into a construction site for no good reason.


Why would they do that?

For a ‘big govt/bureaucratic reason’.... which meet the requirements of their federal funding to keep more federal money flowing our way.

This is a real-world waste of time, and energy, and expense. And it’s just the latest farce associated with ‘the hop’.

Nichols explains it this way at

Milwaukee city officials are going to run their streetcars, part of the $128 million Hop, through a closed construction site on Sundays, and Sundays only, throughout the winter in order to satisfy the requirements of a federal grant.

If ridership on the new one-day-a-week “L-Line” are similar to Sunday numbers on the Hop’s single existing line, there will be few riders most of the time.

Folks...if the drivers who operate the hop were mentally challenged- then maybe that’d be an excuse- but this is -one turn. 

Our current hop is on a two-mile loop-that’s it. It’s on an oblong oval track. This ‘l’ line is the only other spur and it’s literally...a jog to the left...that takes you three blocks to the east.... loops at the Contour and brings you three blocks back.

A could run this route on a big wheel without any instruction: okay.... honey...I want you to peddle all the way down to that corner...and then peddle all the way back there. Ready? Go.

That’s all the ‘training’ that conductors would need on this new route.

Otis? Yeah- okay- not to throw you a curveball-but at some point...the oval you run? Is going to have one turn in it.  You’re going to have to turn here- and go four blocks that way- and then turn around and come back. And since the trolley is on a track.... you can’t screw it up.  

If you drive into the water.... stop. Otherwise...consider this you’re training on the ‘l’ line.

I would be insulted if I was a hop operator, and this was management’s excuse for running a Sunday line: we need to be trained on it? 

I cannot tell you how much I love that excuse. It’s got to go into the hall of fame of idiotic bureaucratic excuses.

The truth is: in order to meet a silly stipulation of the federal funding-so the city doesn’t have to give it back- and so the federal bureaucrats don’t have any excuse to block future funding- city leaders need to cheat. To fudge. To pretend. So, they can ‘technically’ say that this Hop extension was ‘running’ by the date required.

Fantastic. It’s four blocks to the east-then comes right back to the loop at virtually the same spot.

Oh-and daily service on this useless extension will start next spring. That’s good to case you find yourself with a knee injury on the corner of Jackson and Juneau...and you’re meeting your boss two blocks over-on Cass Street. Otherwise? This is useless.

Nichol’s piece at badger institute also exposes the pathetic ridership numbers that the main line has had-always-but especially since covid.

Isn’t it Tom Barrett and Bob Baumann’s luck to finally...finally.... get a toy choo-choo going in downtown Milwaukee and then have everyone working from home?

Darn it.

But- even pre-covid, no one was riding the hop. Any figures the city released were highly fudged-with the same handful of people who found it useful-being counted as ‘new riders’ every time they hopped on or off.

-and don’t forget the homeless. Even if they just got on to get out of the rain...and stink up the entire second car.... that’s a rider. Count it. 

And if that crackhead sitting on the left side with her legs open gives birth to her baby on the hop- that crack baby’s a rider. Count it.

It sounds like Mike Nichols tried to get ridership numbers -post covid-and the department of public works refused to give them to him. 

A different spokesperson, Brian Rothgery, had previously told the Badger Institute in August that he doubted that the opening of the long-planned extension might somehow be tied to federal grant requirements but did not know for sure. He also later ignored questions from the Badger Institute about the issue — though an internal email indicates he did at least think about answering.

“As far as a response, I’m sure we can provide a well-founded reason for easing into full-time operations,” wrote Rothgery in an Aug. 23 email to another staffer that the Badger Institute obtained through an open records request. “I would also provide a recent Urban Milwaukee that shows stead (sic) growth in ridership.”

Those numbers — which generally show growth over the last few years but ridership levels that are still lower than they were before the pandemic — are here.

“Or,” wrote Rothgery to his colleagues, “we could not respond at all.”

They did not back then respond at all.

In the internal email copied to a number of Department of Public Works employees, including Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke, Rothgery wrote that the Badger Institute has “an ongoing ‘boondoggle’ narrative that they are trying to maintain.”

That’s only partially true.

We’ve actually called it “a slow-motion boondoggle,” a “classic boondoggle,” a “flop” and a “financial anvil” 

My friends-according to the latest figures we have- this is costing taxpayers- local and federal- 15 dollars and three cents per rider. 

And remember- it collects no fares or fees. It was such a craptacular dud by the time the fare boxes arrived...that mayor Barrett decided not to install them.  They knew that if ‘virtually’ no one was riding this thing for free-then ‘literally no one’ would pay to ride it.

The homeless and the crack moms who need a birthing center sure don’t have the money.

And so- this is entirely subsidized. Total taxpayer expense-for both the construction and the operating costs-

And it is a cluster -f.

I normally say ‘farce’. I can’t say the real word. But at this point-the hop isn’t a farce. It’s a full blown, never ending, slow rolling cluster-f.

And city leaders must know it.

I like that Nichols includes in his piece-the history of that Coutour construction site. Because remember, that was another never-ending boondoggle. From site selection -right up until the time it closed- decades later-because it was so useless.

It is taxpayer waste, after taxpayer waste, after taxpayer waste-when it comes to these federally funded projects-and the never-ending insult is that they always come with the need for more local and state taxpayer money- that never goes away because then it’s up to the local and state govts to run it. Do the maintenance. Pay the employees...etc.

The Hop is going to be another multi-billion-dollar boondoggle before city officials 30 years from now admit it was always a stupid idea.

But before they do-other morons running the city are going to try to expand it out to miller park...and the domes-and any other place they can think of to make it ‘useful’.

It’s not useful.

story credit:

photo credit: Fox 6 News/Milwaukee

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content