The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently awarded the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) with its 2019 APTA Innovation Award for the world–renowned ‘MCTS Excellence’ program.

MCTS Excellence began in late 2016 as a video series posted on the organization’s website and official social media accounts. Each video, which was produced in-house by the MCTS Marketing Department, used bus surveillance footage to tell a unique story that highlighted an employee’s act of kindness or compassion.

“MCTS Excellence is a testament to the hard work, heroism and humanity that our employees bring to the job every day; not only to get riders from Point A to Point B, but to ensure all of our residents are safe and secure,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “I commend the dedicated men and women who work on the road and behind the scenes for this well-deserved national recognition.”

Recent videos have shown bus drivers finding lost children, helping riders who were visually impaired cross the street, assisting passengers suffering from medical emergencies, pulling a crash victim from a burning car, and helping connect a homeless man with a new place to live.

“The MCTS Excellence video series is showcasing our incredible team, bringing positive attention to the entire industry and shining a spotlight on public transportation’s vital role in our community,” said MCTS Managing Director Dan Boehm.

Videos highlighting MCTS employees have regularly gone viral and been viewed hundreds of millions of times thanks to the broad reach of social media, TV, radio, newspapers, and other media outlets.

Dozens of celebrities have also shared MCTS Excellence videos online and extended special invitations to MCTS employees. One bus driver was flown to a taping of the Ellen DeGeneres Show and later participated in an on-stage Q&A session with singer Kelly Clarkson. Another driver was asked to be a contestant on a nationally televised game show.

A driver was featured as an ‘Everyday Hero’ in Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ edition and later named ‘Hero of the Year’ by the American Red Cross of Southeast Wisconsin. Other employees have received honors, awards and commendations from MCTS, the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, the State of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bucks, trade organizations and even from the animal rights group PETA.

“These innovative videos have received extensive high-profile national and international media coverage,” said Paul P. Skoutelas, APTA President and CEO. “Thanks to MCTS Excellence, millions of people now have a positive image of bus drivers, not only in Milwaukee, but throughout the country.”

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Milwaukee County Transit System and Lee Matz