Walker's Train Killing Was Aimed At Too-Blue Madison
The contradictions surrounding Amtrak service in Wisconsin are dizzying, but the message is clear: Though some Amtrak improvements will take place in Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker was not going to allow out-going Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to get any credit, or Madison receive any economic benefit from modern train service.
Walker instead bowed to his right-wing, suburban talk radio base and succeeded in getting Wisconsin's $810 million in federal funding won by Doyle from the Obama administration pushed to other states.
Sacrificed for right-wing politics: thousands of construction jobs, a Milwaukee-based train assembly and repair factory, and an extension of the Chicago-Milwaukee "Hiawatha" Amtrak line to Madison.
That extension was to be a segment of the planned Midwest regional high-speed system - - but Walker used the issue as a campaign cudgel against cities, Democrats and even Doyle even though Doyle was not on the ballot.
Light rail, commuter tail, Amtrak rail - - it's the same partisan, anti-urban dog whistle, even though the stance costs the state commerce and employment.
The "Hiawatha" is setting ridership records because it's a pleasant alternative to Illinois tolls, highway congestion and pricey parking.
Now the planned Midwest system - - laid out with more regional connections, upgraded track and faster trains - - is set to expand, with the participation of WisDOT but without the Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago connection or service northwest to the Twin Cities, and beyond.
Killing the train was really all about sticking it to Madison, denying a Democratic city a transportation option for tourists, students, business officials and university researchers.
Boarding the Lake Shore Limited a few weeks ago a fellow Amtrak passenger from Illinois thanked me for everything Wisconsin had contributed to help Illinois complete their high speed rail segment to Springfield.
Add that to the victorious Cubs fans celebrating on the Hiawatha heading down to Chicago and I can tell you it was just the start of a somewhat embarrassing, slightly disasterous trip.
Perhaps you should have stayed down there.
If it had just been about public transit, smart government and a thriving economy (all interrelated) I would have.
Yes, because Chicago is so "smart" when it comes to government.
I wonder why we can't have all of the shootings, robberies, murders and decaying building like Chicago does... er, wait... we do.
I guess that's what local Democratic leadership will get you.
Funny that you missed the "thriving economy" bit. Your laugh sounds a lot like an old goat bleating triumphantly over a pile of garbage. Those Democratically controlled cities (and states) are leaving you in their bus exhaust and all you can do is chase the kids off your little dump because everyone else needs to be as miserable as you are.
Maybe you ought to hop on the Hiawatha and go to Chicago sometime instead of just listening to talk radio blather. Or take that new high speed train to Springfield. After all, you helped pay for it -- no reason you should just stand there breathing in fumes.
I saw one of your Wisconsin trains yesterday...in Seattle. It's beautiful. I ride Amtrak every day for my commute to and from work. They are fast and comfortable, with good WiFi so I can get more work done. With food and beverage service I can get breakfast on the train, and unwind with a bottle of wine or beer on the ride home. I and look forward to enjoying the train that was intended for you. I'm sorry Wisconsin, really, I am.
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