By Dylan Deprey
If Antonishia Davis never hopped the number 6 bus for her first day at the FedEx Shipping Center in Waukesha, WI, her five-year-old daughter may have had a very different life.
The roughly forty minute car ride from her house near 19th and Capitol to FedEx, where she works as a parcel sorter, would have drained her wallet having to pay gas money for rides to work, especially during the peak winter season.
Luckily for her, and others looking for work in the City of Milwaukee over the past two years there has been two bus lines creating a bridge between jobless employees in the city and employers trying to fill vacant positions in the suburbs.
“For a lot of people this is the difference between having a job or not,” said County Executive Chris Abele.
JobLines 6 and 61 are a joint collaboration of the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin (BHCW) and Milwaukee County Transit Systems (MCTS).
The lines connect employees to around 150 employers along two routes. JobLines 6 runs south to BuySeasons in New Berlin from N. Port Washington Road to W. Capitol Drive in Milwaukee, and JobLine 61 runs north to Walmart in Germantown from N. 35th St. and N. Toronto St. (Near W. Capitol Dr.)
Over a year span since 2015, JobLines has seen a 23 percent increase in ridership, and have provided around 1,000 daily rides to positions outside of Milwaukee.
The rebranding for JobLines 6 and 61 was announced during a press conference Oct. 25, in an effort to spread the word out about the need for skilled laborers along the two routes.
“I love that this is called JobLines because its getting people to work, but we could just as accurately call it Life Lines,” Abele said.
Waukesha County Board Supervisor Michael Crowley is the vice president of Midland Plastics in New Berlin, which is also on JobLines 6. He said that over the past two years he has witnessed economic growth along the bus route, including 10 to 15 openings after an expansion at Midland Plastics.
Both routes allow commuters different opportunities in a variety of fields including manufacturing, electrician, retail and industrial supplying.
Crowley and Abele amended the collaboration between employers in Waukesha and MCTS.
“We have been working well together as counties, and communities,” Crowley said.
Jarrett Fisher, the assistant Hub Manager for FedEx Ground in New Berlin said that including Davis there were over one hundred employees who use JobLines. He also said that the bus line worked with FedEx to run with first, second and third shifts.
Although some have their doubts about public transportation, Davis said that she is “thrilled to get on the number 6 bus everyday.”
She said that unlike what some people assume, the drivers on the JobLines were always friendly and reliable. She mentioned a story about a time a driver waited for a pregnant woman who happened to be running late.
“Sometimes people are skeptical and be like, ‘Oh I can’t make it to this job’ and this is a way for people to make it to jobs,” Davis said.
More information about JobLines and Job openings can be found at www.ridemcts.com/joblines