Amtrak links Milwaukee to Oshkosh to Green Bay

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Amtrak links Milwaukee to Oshkosh to Green Bay

A new Amtrak bus route includes a stop at Gruenhagen Conference Center.

A new Amtrak bus route includes a stop at Gruenhagen Conference Center.

Joseph Schulz

A new Amtrak bus route includes a stop at Gruenhagen Conference Center.

Joseph Schulz

Joseph Schulz

A new Amtrak bus route includes a stop at Gruenhagen Conference Center.

Joseph Schulz, Managing Editor

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When Greyhound shut down its last remaining bus route between Milwaukee and Green Bay in Oct. 2018, commuters using public transit were left with only one option: a single daily round trip operated by Lamers Bus Lines.

In July, Amtrak began a new Thruway Bus Service, offering two daily round trips between Green Bay and Milwaukee with stops in Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac.

The service is provided by Amtrak, in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Buses are operated by Wisconsin Coach Lines/Coach USA Milwaukee.

Last Friday WisDOT Secretary-Designee Craig Thompson and Amtrak Senior Manager of Government Affairs Derrick James joined community representatives from Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Appleton to roll out Amtrak’s newly outfitted buses at press conferences in all three cities.

The new buses feature free Wi-Fi, tables, cup holders, ample legroom and at-seat plug-ins. Travelers can also store bicycles or luggage in a compartment underneath the bus. All buses are ADA accessible.

“This is about more than shiny new buses,” Thompson said. “For these communities, this means more options to get to Milwaukee, connect to flights at Milwaukee Airport to get to Chicago via quick and easy connections to Amtrak Hiawatha trains.”

The service is designed to maximize Wisconsin’s investment in I-41, Thompson noted.

“We can’t rely solely on private vehicle transportation to attract economic growth and business. Enhanced linkages to the economic engines of Milwaukee and Chicago will help the business community in The New North continue to thrive,” he said.

The New North is a regional economic development organization representing 18 counties in northeastern Wisconsin, according to its website.

The I-41 Thruway bus has two stops in Oshkosh, one at Wittman Airport and one outside the Gruenhagen Conference Center on the UW Oshkosh Campus, which is where the newly outfitted bus was unveiled in Oshkosh.

The morning southbound bus departs Green Bay at approximately 4:40 a.m. each morning and makes one stop in Oshkosh at Wittman Airport at about 6:06 a.m. before arriving in Milwaukee around 8 a.m.

The bus then leaves the Milwaukee Airport around 9:35 a.m. and will stop at the Wittman Airport around 11:44 a.m. and the Gruenhagen Conference Center around 11:55 a.m. before departing for Green Bay.

The afternoon southbound bus leaves Green Bay at approximately 1:55 p.m., stopping at the Conference Center around 3:23 p.m. and the airport around 3:35 p.m. The bus will arrive in Milwaukee around 5:28 p.m.

It departs from Milwaukee at 6:30 p.m., making stops at the airport around 8:35 p.m. and at the Conference Center around 8:50 p.m.

The service eliminates transportation barriers for students coming to any of the three UWO campuses, UWO Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cheryl Green noted.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the WisDOT and to the Amtrak officials for having the vision and the drive to expand transportation services to the Fox Valley region,” Green said.

Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation CEO Jason White noted the buses will help companies recruit and retain talent as well as help individuals secure and keep employment.

About 46,000 people commute to Winnebago County for work and nearly 36,000 live in the county and commute to another county for employment, he added.

“Companies cannot grow without human capital support,” White said.

James noted Amtrak views the Thruway Service as an extension of its rail system.

While Amtrak is providing a bus route between Green Bay and Milwaukee, there is no rail option for commuters traveling between the two cities.

If enough people use the bus route, it could potentially reopen the possibility of a train system being implemented, Thompson noted.

“I think it puts a lot of those things back on the table,” Thompson said.

Adult fares from Green Bay to Milwaukee are $28 each way. Continuing aboard the Amtrak Hiawatha train to Chicago is an additional $11 for a total of $39. Children, veterans, seniors and students are eligible for a discounted rate.

Tickets are available at Amtrak.com, the Amtrak mobile apps, QuikTrakSM kiosks at the stations or by calling 800-USA-RAIL.