State Urban Mass Transit Operating Assistance

The State Urban Mass Transit Operating Assistance program (codified in Wisconsin State Statute 85.20) provides operating cost assistance to transit systems in order to alleviate local tax burdens.

Eligible applicants include municipalities or counties with populations greater than 2,500, as well as transit or transportation commissions or authorities. Public transportation services eligible for this program includes bus, shared-ride taxicab, rail or other conveyance either publicly or privately owned. Capital projects are not eligible for this program.

Systems are divided into four tiers of state funding, the total annual statewide amount of each being defined in Wis. Stat. 85.20:

  • Tier A1: Milwaukee County Transit System
  • Tier A2: Madison Metro
  • Tier B: Systems serving a population of 50,000 or more that are not in Tiers A1 or A2
  • Tier C: Systems serving areas with population between 2,500 and 50,000

Annual funding amounts per system are equalized via formula statewide, combining grants from the State Urban Mass Transit Operating Assistance Program as well as Federal Formula programs for Rural and Urban Areas.

Approximately one-half of total annual operating expenses for Wisconsin transit systems are reimbursed through state and federal grants.

WisDOT awards 85.20 formula grant funds via the annual Public Transit Assistance Program (PTAP). This program’s application is made available online in WisDOT’s BlackCat® Grant Management System each fall.


Steve Hirshfeld
(608) 267-0209