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Get To Know Your Operator

The first class of operators has become certified to operate The Hop. The group participated in an intensive months-long program that covered all of the intricacies of the Brookville Liberty Modern Streetcars. From standard operating procedures to customer service, these men and women are now experts on the vehicles, the route and the services passengers will enjoy beginning this fall. Each week we’ll be spotlighting one operator for The Hop and sharing their unique stories.

Name:

Bob Franson

Hometown:

I have lived in Milwaukee for 60 years! I was away in the Marine Corps for a little bit but came back to call Milwaukee home again.

Where did you graduate high school?

Milwaukee Tech

Where did you attend college?

I went straight into the service at 17 years old.

Where did you work prior to joining The Hop?

I worked for the City of Milwaukee for 35 years and then retired. I came out of retirement last winter to work for the county plowing snow and applied to work for The Hop during this time.

What transit experience have you had?

No transit experience before. This was very new to me.

Why did you decide to pursue an operator position with The Hop?

I saw it posted on the job website and it just seemed very intriguing and like it would be a new experience.  I have been trained on at least a dozen pieces of equipment with the City of Milwaukee. Learning the operation of the streetcar was a much more in-depth training experience than anything I had gone through before.

Why do you think public transportation is important?

To move people to where they need to go.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

When you get to the end and have to switch cabs and you get to walk through the people and they tell you how great the ride is. Best compliment I have received is that I’m a great operator. It makes you feel good.

What’s your favorite thing about Milwaukee?

There is so much to do, especially in the summer with all the festivals. All year round there are just opportunities galore to explore.

What is your favorite spot of the route?

Café Benelux. I have never been on the second level and would love to go up there sometime.

Get To Know Your Operator-Nicole Martin

The Hop streetcars are operated by a talented and diverse group of men and women, many of them Milwaukee natives. Every operator has completed an intensive months-long training program that covers all of the intricacies of the vehicles, including over 80 hours of actual on-street training. From standard operating procedures to customer service, these men and women are experts on the vehicles, the route and services passengers now enjoy. Each week we’ll be spotlighting one operator for The Hop and sharing their unique stories.

Name:

Nicole Martin

Hometown:

Milwaukee has been home for the past 43 years!

Where did you graduate high school?

Rufus King High School

Where did you attend college?

Sanford Brown University

Where did you work prior to joining The Hop?

I worked as a medical assistant/caretaker and was a school bus driver.

What transit experience have you had?

I was a school bus driver for about 7 years.

Why did you decide to pursue an operator position with The Hop?

It was something different. When I first heard about it, it sounded like something new and kind of adventurous—something great for the Milwaukee area. It took me a while to apply, but the job itself seemed like a perfect fit. I wanted to be part of something new that was coming to Milwaukee.

What is something that has stood out while being a part of The Hop?

Change! This was very exciting and new to me. Some people take to this in a positive way and others in a negative way. But our training on how to deal with this new, big piece of machinery in the neighborhoods was very good. I felt very prepared!

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Being a part of history here in Milwaukee. I had never experienced or even ridden on a streetcar before, and now I operate one. It’s an exciting time for the city. And I’m a people person. I love dealing with the public and I get that interaction every day! When we get to Burns Commons and switch sides, you get to see little kids’ faces light up and I give them a high five. Even some of the adults like to get in on the action and get high fives.

What’s your favorite thing about Milwaukee?

I’ve seen Milwaukee change over the years and for the most part it’s been positive. There are a lot of things going on here. Our downtown is growing—there are a lot of little places I’ve never heard of or experienced. There are so many places to see and explore in our city. I love Milwaukee and there is so much diversity and a lot of things to do!

Get To Know Your Operator

The first class of operators has become certified to operate The Hop. The group participated in an intensive months-long program that covered all of the intricacies of the Brookville Liberty Modern Streetcars. From standard operating procedures to customer service, these men and women are now experts on the vehicles, the route and the services passengers will enjoy beginning this fall. Each week we’ll be spotlighting one operator for The Hop and sharing their unique stories.

Name:

Randy Brown Sr.

Hometown:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m a homegrown Milwaukeean. I grew up on the north side in the Rufus King neighborhood.

Where did you graduate high school:

Messmer High School

Where did you work prior to joining The Hop:

I have 20 years of hair cutting and cosmetology experience. I worked for Gee’s Clippers for many years – I was with him when he started his shop.

Why did you decide to pursue an operator position with The Hop:

I had been hearing about the possibility of us getting the streetcar for a while. My dad actually followed it a lot closer than I did. I had moved away for a few years but when I came back it was my dad who told me to come down here and fill out an application. He explained what it was and thought it’d be a good opportunity. When I got the job, I was overwhelmingly excited. I’m getting to be a part of history for the city.

Why do you think public transportation is important:

There are a lot of people in Milwaukee who may not have their own vehicles but they still need a way to be able to get around and take care of things that are necessities to them. It provides independence for people. It also gives people another way to enjoy our city.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job:

Just seeing the people. Seeing people out and about and enjoying downtown is great. I’m the kind of person that likes to interact with people. There are so many people who are so interested in this project and it’s gratifying to meet them.

What is your favorite destination along the route:

Definitely the Milwaukee Public Market. It’s beautiful. The food, the atmosphere, it just screams Milwaukee.

Get To Know Your Operator

The first class of operators has become certified to operate The Hop. The group participated in an intensive months-long program that covered all of the intricacies of the Brookville Liberty Modern Streetcars. From standard operating procedures to customer service, these men and women are now experts on the vehicles, the route and the services passengers will enjoy beginning this fall. Each week we’ll be spotlighting one operator for The Hop and sharing their unique stories.

Name:

Darricke Bennett

Hometown:

Milwaukee. I was born and raised on the north side of Milwaukee and still live in the area today.

Where did you graduate high school:

Custer High School (now the Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education).

Where did you work prior to joining The Hop:

I spent 21 years working in the telecommunications industry. I was at Time Warner Cable, which is now known as Spectrum Cable.

Why did you decide to pursue an operator position with The Hop:

I was looking for something different. My previous job was a lot of wear and tear on my body. I had always wanted to do something involving operating a vehicle of some kind. When I saw that the streetcar was coming to the city I thought it sounded interesting. It’s something new, something different. I wanted to get involved.

Why do you think public transportation is important:

I think in the past when people would come to the downtown area it would be difficult to get around. It’s so much easier for people to move around the city with something like this than having to drive everywhere. Parking can be an issue in places. This way, you can just park in a certain area and then be able to visit all the unique things along the route.

How will the streetcar change the city:

It’s new and different. I see it every day when driving along the route – people are smiling, taking pictures, taking selfies. They’re always waving. That lets me know that people are really excited to have this type of thing in our city. It’s another thing that’s revitalizing our city. We’ve got this brand new arena, now a streetcar, too. These are things that make the whole downtown area more exciting. Fifteen or 20 years ago, there wasn’t a whole lot to do downtown. It was empty. But now, you go down Wisconsin Avenue or Michigan or Water Street on a weekend and it’s really live.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job:

Honestly, just seeing the smiles on peoples faces as they’re riding or seeing the streetcar go by.

What’s your favorite thing about Milwaukee:

I love the history and tradition of the city. If you go to an area like the one around the Pabst Brewery, you can see the historic buildings, but they’re revamping it all to be new and fresh as well. I also like that Milwaukee is a big city, but a little city at the same time. We’re not like Chicago or L.A. or anything like that, but we still have a lot of big city amenities. It’s a hidden gem. I’m one of those guys that’s always standing up for my city.

What is your favorite portion of the route:

For me, the highlight is when I’m heading south on Broadway towards St. Paul and the Third Ward. You’ve got the Public Market there. That whole area is lit up to me. There’s so much to do and see there.

Get To Know Your Operator

The first class of operators has become certified to operate The Hop. The group participated in an intensive months-long program that covered all of the intricacies of the Brookville Liberty Modern Streetcars. From standard operating procedures to customer service, these men and women are now experts on the vehicles, the route and the services passengers will enjoy beginning this fall. Each week we’ll be spotlighting one operator for The Hop and sharing their unique stories.

Name:

Ariane Nelson

Hometown:

Chicago, Illinois

Where did you graduate high school:

Madison University High School on Milwaukee’s northwest side.

Where did you work prior to joining The Hop:

Regional Transportation District in Denver, Colorado.

Why did you decide to pursue an operator position with The Hop:

This is exciting. It’s something new for the city. I began following the project after I first heard about it while I was still in Colorado. It also gives me a great opportunity to be around family again. I was able to come back home.

Why do you think public transportation is important:

It improves the community. It can show you how diverse we are as a city. You might get to ride next to someone you normally wouldn’t meet or speak to. It also provides a convenient way for people to get around the city.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job:

Given that we’re just starting up, I’ve enjoyed being able to teach others what I’ve learned as we’ve gone through the training.

What is your favorite destination along the route:

The Public Market is definitely the highlight of the route for me.

Get To Know Your Operator

The first class of operators has become certified to operate The Hop. The group participated in an intensive months-long program that covered all of the intricacies of the Brookville Liberty Modern Streetcars. From standard operating procedures to customer service, these men and women are now experts on the vehicles, the route and the services passengers will enjoy beginning this fall. Each week we’ll be spotlighting one operator for The Hop and sharing their unique stories.

Name:

Ventson Jones Jr.

Hometown:

Milwaukee, born and raised. I grew up on the north side near the Sherman Park area.

Where did you graduate high school:

Pulaski High School

Where did you attend college:

I’m finishing up my associates degree in business at MATC.

Where did you work prior to joining The Hop:

When I was 18 I started working at the airport as a skycap. It was mostly customer service. It was exciting to always meet new people who were flying in and out and be helpful to them. I’ve also worked as a valet at a hotel near here.

Why do you think public transportation is important:

Public transportation is important to a city in many different ways. It helps employees who may need a way to get back and forth to work. I didn’t have a car when I first started working so if there wasn’t good public transportation it would have been very hard. There weren’t a lot of jobs in the neighborhood I was in. As far as the streetcar, I think it will be a hallmark showing that the city is moving forward. I think it will bring more tourism to the city. It will bring about more conversations about Milwaukee as a city, and hopefully it will do well and help other cities get streetcars as well.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job:

My previous jobs were in customer service, so it’s always been about meeting people and helping people. We’ll be providing an important service to help people get to where they need to go.

What is your favorite destination along the route:

My favorite spot is near the end of the route by Burns Commons. I love that lower east side neighborhood and being by the lake.

Last weld ceremony

Last weld ceremony marks major milestone for The Hop

The Milwaukee community left its mark on a historic event on Monday, July 2 at a “last weld” ceremony for The Hop, presented by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

Hundreds of Milwaukee residents, business owners and dignitaries, including children from nearby Ebenezer Child Care Center, joined construction workers and city staff to celebrate the completion of construction on The Hop’s Main Line. All of the guests had the opportunity to sign their names to a commemorative piece of rail which will be put on display along the route later this summer.

“The substantial completion of construction is a cause for celebration and a major milestone on the path towards bringing streetcar service to our city,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “We’re so appreciative of the patience and support we’ve seen from downtown businesses and residents alike during the lengthy construction process.”

TOD Connects Community Workshops

Join us for our 4th Community Workshop for the Moving Milwaukee Forward through Transit Oriented Development Study. There are two meetings scheduled, one for the King Drive area and one for the Walker’s Point area.

Tuesday, May 22nd
6-8pm
Welford Sanders Enterprise Center
2812 N 5th St, Milwaukee, WI 53212

AND

Wednesday, May 23rd
6-8pm
Escuela Vieau, gymnasium
823 South 4th Street
Milwaukee WI 53204

A light dinner will be served at both meetings

The proposed, future extensions of the The Hop north along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and south into Walker’s Point have the potential to connect people to jobs, attract new businesses, bring new housing options and improve public open spaces. The City of Milwaukee, Historic King Drive Business Improvement District, Walker’s Point Association and Harbor District Inc. are planning for how to ensure residents and businesses benefit from the potential changes that improved transit could bring to the neighborhood. The only way to make this study successful is to hear from residents.

Over the course of the past three community workshops, we heard from the community on a wide range of topics related to expansion of The Hop and got feedback on preliminary design concepts to address:

  • Housing needs, especially affordable options
  • Different type of commercial activity that people would like to have in their neighborhood
  • Keeping the unique cultural identity of the neighborhoods
  • Size and appearance of new buildings
  • Making the area more pleasant for walking and biking

Please help us in refining these concepts as we think about the different ways to make these community goals happen.

There will be a presentation at the beginning, followed by an opportunity to talk with the study team and other residents in small groups about the preliminary recommendations.  Additional details about the event and the project are available here. Please attend and bring a neighbor!

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