(AFNS-Milwaukee) City of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced in a release on Wednesday, April 1, that he intends to ask the federal government for more funding to expand the Milwaukee Streetcar’s range of operations.

“With the federal money we intend to seek, we will be able to modify the Milwaukee Streetcar to allow it to go beyond the current track system,” Barrett said in a statement. “With the $200 million we are asking for, the Hop will be able to hop the track system.”

According to Barrett’s plan, the streetcar’s wheel system will be modified so it can operate independently of the tracks in Milwaukee’s downtown. The streetcar would then be able to go all parts of the city, fulfilling Barrett’s dream of expanding the streetcar system city wide.

“Without being tied to the tracks, the streetcar will be able to serve all communities in Milwaukee, not just upwardly mobile mostly-white professionals living in the downtown area that most residents can’t afford,” Barrett said. “Imagine a modern mass transit system that actually also serves the city’s minority communities.”

The Hop streetcars with the modified wheels, also known as “buses,” will also have the ability to reach destinations people would like to reach, such as Miller Park, the Milwaukee County Zoo, and even Fiserv Forum, without tearing up streets to put in new expansion tracks.

“Bucks fans and Democratic convention goers alike will be able to travel to the Fiserv Forum without needing to use a car,” Barrett said. “They will be able to stand in a modern mass transit alternative that is almost as fast as walking there.”

Because the modified streetcars will not need tracks, they will move in and out of traffic with other vehicles preventing the need for the concrete bump outs as boarding stations.

“We can even keep traffic lanes open,” Barrett said. “Until, of course, we convert them to bicycle lanes.”

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