Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waukesha Is Missing The Boat...Er, Train...On Transit Opportunity

I found myself on I-94 Tuesday afternoon during a rush-hour snowstorm - - and not the heaviest snowfall, by any means - - and the bumper-to-bumper traffic from downtown Milwaukee out to the west was simply stunning.

Radio reports put the travel time between the Marquette Interchange and Moreland Rd., a well-known Waukesha County interchange, at between a half-hour and 45 minutes, and this was before the traffic would be building up, along with additional snow and falling temperatures.

[Update: At 6:40 p.m., the WisDOT travel website was reporting the travel time between Downtown and Moreland road to be 32:31 minutes:seconds. About three times normal.]

I've been in these circumstances before, and while I cannot imagine making this or a similar rush-hour trip everyday, I also think Waukesha County is subjecting its residents to unnecessary hassle, fuel expense and waste of time by failing to join the Regional Transit Authority.

That body is trying to coordinate and upgrade transit services in what is now only Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Counties.

High on the RTA's list, and also among business leaders' priorities in those three counties: getting the KRM commuter train up and running so that much of southeastern Wisconsin has heavy rail connections for commuters much like what is provided in and out of Chicago by METRA.

Waukesha County commuters would fall in love with the KRM train - - on snowy, rainy and clear days, too - - if politicians and business leaders there would promote the transit authority and push to add Waukesha to the KRM route.

City of Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson is the only Waukesha County politico of whom I am aware that has supported getting his residents served by the KRM, but he has few allies on that position.

Even The Freeman, Waukesha's daily paper, has bad-mouthed the county's joining the RTA, suggesting in a fit of ideological blindness and regional monkey-wrenching that an RTA would raise taxes and be of too much benefit to Milwaukee.

I wonder if all those Waukesha commuters trapped on I-94 Tuesday afternoon would agree?

Will Waukesha County's power brokers continue to leave their constituents on a side track, or at the curb, or wherever under-served voters and taxpayers get deposited as the world is allowed to move past them?


Anonymous said...

And having commuter rail running through the corridor would add at least a 45 minute to an hour wait for a pick up on the way in and on the way out. Trains can’t get all of us to where we want to be at the time we need to be there, or pick us up where we want at the time we want.

So, on the morning side of my commute, I can drive to a park and ride (ideally) and then wait around for the train, get on, get to the closest station to my employment, most likely several miles from the stop, and then what? Wait for a bus or two?

Are you kidding me? For 45 minutes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, I’ll just wait comfortably in my car. I may even share the ride with someone else – but that’d be my choice.

Commuter rail in SE Wisconsin may be good for a few, but it is worthless for most.

James Rowen said...

To Anon:

Who's kidding whom?

I challenge your math and logic. Trains can arrive and leave from stations linked with buses, light rail, and sidewalks, and have parking lots, too.