My Photo


Feeds and more

  • [ BadgerLink logo ]
Blog powered by Typepad


Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

« Baseball Hall of Fame Blows Another Call | Main | Free Speech, Madison and UW Style: The Good and the Bad. »

February 01, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Soon-To-Be-Ex-Alderman Steve

I'm amazed at how the projected cost of the price of gasoline is so often left out of discussions oabout the prospects for high speed rail in America. With China, India, Brazil, and host of other developing nations competing for the same petroleum supplies we do (not to mention Europe and Japan), do rail critics really think the cost of a gallon of gas is going to remain where it is today? What is the "plan B" offered by rail critics when the next gas crunch hits? Or is their position that there will never be another gas crunch?

A robust and efficient transportation system should be able to respond flexibly to disruptions in gas supplies when they occur. Running around screeching "Drill, baby, drill" does not count as a plan, as such an approach only depletes domestic supplies at a greater rate. It doesn't address the core problem.

The population density in many urban areas approaches that of Europe. The idea is to link urban clusters cities up. It's not like rail is an exotic or untried technology. Just bringing our passenger rail system up to the standards of early twentieth century America would be a quantum jump from what we have now.


In some of the comments I've read on the rail stories, I detect a thread of "if it's public, it must be bad," that is, a connection between all public programs that ties together unsavory, unkempt, undesirable people. So: I offer a solution. Let's call public transportation, rail and bus included, "members-only transporation." Passes and tickets will be membership badges, something akin to what the Augusta National Golf Club sells for admission to the Masters Tournament. That way, no one has to worry about sitting next to someone who isn't a member.


Some years ago, the late New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan proposed building a high-speed rail link across the Northeast Corridor (he was talking about mag-lev, something well beyond Amtrak's Acela)

Moynihan suggested a two-track magnetically levitated monorail - invented in the USA, by the way, and roundly ignored there as well - that could be built on pylons along the existing highway medians and right-of-way scraps.

He was told that the United State "does not do that sort of project anymore."

Linking Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Chicago by modern rail - a Moynihan-style elevated train or something more traditional - is an idea that should have happened long ago.


But Trolley Dave still wants two stops. I am not sure a train to Truax is warranted. It is much more important getting a plane from Chicago or Milwaukee.

I think much of the "public" concern is it makes it easier for "those" people to get to Madison. The interesting thing is many of "those" people use cars, and no one is calling for not building roads.

Ty O'Mara

Far north suburbs of Chicago here. I am able to catch a train to O'Hare within a mile of my place. Plus I am taken from where the train stops to the airport via a free bus shuttle. Its great, easy, and it saves me money. The shuttle comes every 15 minutes--its usually waiting there when I get off the train.

I was thinking that this would be a solution if two separate stops in Madison were disallowed. If it were well publicized and the Chicago population were aware of it--it could work. Take the train to Madison, take the shuttle, and get off where you want in the city of Madison. Plus parking problems dissolved. Just an idea.

I heard this train is going to St.Louis also--a triangular route. Just wondering is this train going to travel around 100 miles an hour or 225?


"...most passengers are interested in downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin campus..." Correct - Not Milwaukee Street


In Amsterdam you can go out the front door of the airport and into the front door of the train station and from there you can make connections throughout europe all the way to China if you wish. But that's old europe. In this country the math whizzes who should be engineering new trains are instead in New York inventing funny money instruments with which our pockets are picked.


The two-stop solution is only as good as the choice for the second stop. Unfortunately, Mayor Dave's choice, First Street, is really really stupid. It's practically walking distance from the airport, and still a car ride to downtown or the University. It makes no sense. The old train station at West Washington and Regent is much more convenient to both downtown and the University.

Oh God, we're not going to have another MATC debacle again, are we?


Why would you not want to put the train stations where the people are?


Give a liberal $800,000,000 and they'll still figure out how to need $600,000,000 more.

One year after this gets built, we'll see ridership fall off the charts.
What to do?
Subsidize rider fee's for "those" people == $.
Build more spurs == $$$.
Appease the union == $$$$$$.
Build more mid-way stops == $$$.
Lining the pockets of Dem politicians, (not) priceless.

Seriously, what's wrong with buses? They're cheaper. They can go anywhere. They don't need another right-of-way. They can go anywhere. The trip would be faster, and they can go anywhere. We could even have luxury coaches for the Quarles & Brady folks.

For $800,000,000 we could run 100 buses round-trip every day for 200 years!!

Soon-To-Be-Ex-Alderman Steve

Give a conservative $1,000,000,000,000 and they'll need another trillion.

For the money conservatives dumped into Iraq since 2002 every large urban area in America could have been connected by high speed rail, with enough money left over to grant each transit authority an endowment to subsidize their operation.

Subsidies to private security contrators (aka mercenaries) like Blackwater == $$$
Subsidies to politically connected companies like KBR and Halliburton == $$$$
Tax dollars to replace worn out and destroyed military equipment == $$$$
Tax dollars spent nation building in Iraq == $$$$$
Tax dollars unaccounted for in Iraq == $$$$
Tax dollars paid in interest on the money borrowed to pursue Dubya's war of choice == $$$$$
Destroyed lives--both American and Iraqi in search of WM--that didn't exist === priceless.

Really, R.J. Conservatives are not in any position to lecture the rest of us about fiscal prudence. As Obama pointed out last Friday when he publicly spanked the GOP in Baltimore (forcing Fox to turn their cameras off early out of sheer embarrasment), the vast majority of our current debt was incurred by Dubya who, you might recall, inherited a budget surplus back in 2001. Compared to spending by conservatives, liberals are in the minor leagues.

Buses are fine, as far as they go. They don't go 110 mph and they get stuck in traffic like cars, but they are certainly an important piece of any transportation system.

What is your plan to deal with the next gas crunch? Do you have anything to offer other than slogans like "Drill, Baby, Drill?"

Buses and cars run on gasoline, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Trains can run on electricity or natural gas. Seriously, what's wrong with a robust and multi-modal transportation system that avoids putting all our transportation eggs in one basket?


The tail is wagging the dog on the rail station issue. The ONLY reason the airport and 1st Street locations are being promoted is because they would be "logical" for Chicago/Milwaukee/Twin Cities trains running through Madison. But the real experts say that will never happen; detouring those trains through Madison would add an hour, maybe two to the run, defeating the "high speed" concept. Madison rail service will simply go to Milwaukee and Chicago. Travelers to the Twin Cities will be able to change trains at Watertown. So, put the station(s) where they'll serve the most people: downtown under Monona Terrace and on campus, in the Kohl/Park St. area.


The Civil War (Lincoln's choice) cost $22,000,000,000,000.

Here we go again, blame Bush and Lincoln.

Why can't buses run on electric or natural gas?
The train will not average 110mph, the $800mil version will not go 110mph, it will take longer to go from downtown to downtown.

I will concede it may not take longer to go from Milwaukee's downtown to Madison's boon-docks.

I wonder which Dem pol will suddenly have financial interest in property adjacent to the train stops?

Soon-To-Be-Ex-Alderman Steve

"Here we go again, blame Bush and Lincoln."

Conservatives still blame Carter, thirty years after he left office. And Dubya did rack up an epic debt load (a lot of it off-budget) in eight short years, so yeah...let's put the blame on Bush where it belongs. As I recall, the current economic calamity came crashing down on us during your guy Bushie's watch (wasn't TARP contrived by the Bush Administration?)

And let's not even get into Medicare Part D., passed by a Republican president and a Republican Congress, which was never paid for.

It's called reality, R.J.. Some people can handle it, and the rest watch Fox...

Curious that you'd compare Bush's handling of Iraq with Lincoln's handling of the civil war. In the first case we have a pre-emptive (and expensive) war of choice predicated on WMDs that never existed launched a mere eight years ago, and the second case we have a Federal government responding to a collection of pro-slavery rebel states firing on Federal installations a hundred and fifty years ago. At least Lincoln raised taxes to help pay for his war, while Dubya put it all on the nation's credit card while telling the rest of us to go shopping.

"The train will not average 110mph, the $800mil version will not go 110mph, it will take longer to go from downtown to downtown."

Ah....behold...The Audacity of Nope...

"I wonder which Dem pol will suddenly have financial interest in property adjacent to the train stops?"

Such properties are far more likely to be owned by Republican Senate hopeful (and real estate magnate) Terrance Wall. Didn't he come out publicly in favor of commuter rail some time ago?


Ride, Captain, ride upon your ("high-speed", wind-powered, state fund busting) mystery ship.


As a Madison native who still tries to come home and visit family at least once a year - I just want to vent - how sucky it is to actually get to Madison. There is no flying direct - from anywhere. You either connect in MPLS, Chicago or Milwaukee. Or you rent a car from Chicago or Milwaukee to cut the cost of the final leg. I once had the joyful experience on a Saturday in summer of arriving in Milwaukee instead of Madison - diverted from Cincinnati due to "weather" - at 9PM and the Delta Desk was CLOSED. Delta hired a CAB to ferry 15 people from the Milwaukee airport to the Madison Airport.

And that final leg flying into Madison? It's more expensive than the trip from either California - where I used to live - or Utah - where I now live.

Christ on a bicycle - SALT LAKE CITY has light rail with a hard rail connector. And the conservatives ADORE IT.

If I had a chance to ride high speed rail from either Chicago or Milwaukee? I'd do it in a heartbeat.

What the hell is taking so long?

Dan Sebald


For the record, skateboarders (and I) adore SLC light rail as well. When I was on UoU campus for a stretch on business, I would ride from the cable bridge in the foothills down to Wild Oats, then on the way back usually chase a few oranges or apples rolling around the seats.

Soon-To-Be-Ex-Alderman Steve


I suspect it is because there is a rump conservative element--well represented by R.J.--that considers any attempt to broaden the region's transportation choices beyond a simple reliance on the automobile as Bolshevism. They love nation building in Iraq, but get the vapours whenever the gub'mint tries to invest in infrastructure here at home.


Yup. The buses didn't make sense in SLC before TRAX. Now they're feeders. And they make sense. And TRAX is expanding to the airport and the west side. Ten years and growing.

Wish it'd been there when I worked at the UofU, Dan.

Joseph Roling

Hi Paul,

This is a golden opportunity to join the station concept with a State Welcome Center.

Outlined here:

I've had this idea for 20 years...Would love to see it materialize!



The comments to this entry are closed.