Saturday, November 17, 2018

A reminder: Walker & Vos killed two SE WI rail lines

Conservatives say they are all about choice.

Except when it comes to getting from Point "A" to Point "B." 

Or maybe to work. Or the airport.

We know Walker killed the Madison-Milwaukee Amtrak line, so for Madisonians, no nice ride rain, sleet or snow to the downtown business district, or to see the Amazing Giannis and the Bucks, or to access the broader and usually-less expensive menu of flights out of Mitchell International Airport.

And for Milwaukeeans, no direct Amtrak service the other way to the State Capitol, or within walking distance of Camp Randall and the Kohl Center, and so on. Of course, you can ride the Amtrak to the station in Columbus, then make your own way to Madison, but why would you?

Ditto for anyone coming to Madison from the West, or the Twin Cities. 

Walker's way's the highway, so mind the orange barrels and keep a sharp out for the Scottholes. He's leaving office after an election he doesn't concede he lost, but his legacy will point you to the tire and front-end alignment shops for decades.

But because Walker bequeathed us a transportation 'system' so damaged that even his own long-time transportation Secretary urged Walker's defeat, and his overly-expensive but transit-deprived Foxconn boondoggle cannot easily connect to Amtrak, don't forget that he and high-decibel post-election crybaby Robin Vos also killed a second, separate rail project that could have connected Foxconn and other SE regional employers and downtowns with workers and other travelers in Racine, Kenosha and Milwaukee counties.

And also have taken some traffic off roads which congest at rush hour or whenever a motorist's tire rim collides with a Scotthole. Or when a semi-flips, as one did this Thursday not far from the Foxconn zone; you didn't really need to make that flight or court date or job interview, did you, northbound motorists? 
The northbound lanes of the interstate were shut down at 6:22 a.m., with traffic diverted onto Highway 142. One northbound lane reopened at 9:19 a.m. as the cleanup continued. The remaining lanes reopened after noon. 
Known as the K-R-M, the proposed commuter rail line would have operated 15 round-trips daily. Extensive study revealed its merits:
Faster travel time – much faster than bus (83 to 108 minutes) and comparable to car (54 minutes) between Milwaukee and Kenosha
Higher level of reliability – unaffected by rush hour automobile and truck traffic; priority at street, highway, and freight crossings; little impact from the weather
Better comfort and convenience–smoother ride; more visible stations; simple straight route
More ridership – about 7,400 trips and 98,700 passenger-miles on an average weekday (over three

times more than the TSM bus alternative)
Alternative during freeway system reconstruction–unaffected by traffic congestion
Reduced air pollution and energy consumption – reduction in vehicle-generated emissions and energy consumption due to increased transit use
More efficient development and redevelopment – potential for higher density development and redevelopment around stations
Accessibility to jobs – over 900,000 jobs accessible within one mile of train stations in the KRM/Metra corridor
Economic impact – potential for economic growth by more closely linking southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois
The service model would have been similar to the METRA commuter train line - - 
20110530 Metra.JPG
- - that already connects Chicago to Kenosha, a convenience something the Walker embraced with promotional funding - - "A one-hour commute. Or one hour bike ride!" - - because they knew Illinois could readily supply millennial workers to Foxconn which Wisconsin could not supply.

But because the KRM ran on a rail and not on the concrete which GOP campaign-banking road-building interests always prefer, Vos and Walker killed the KRM after sticking it to President Obama, Milwaukee and Madison by sinking the Amtrak extension and with it, the ability of similar regional transit authorities, or RTAs statewide to better coordinate transit options of their choices.

The new Republican-led Legislature has since approved GOP Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan to cut transit aid by 10% next year, slicing nearly $7 million from Milwaukee County buses. 
At the same time, state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), the KRM's most powerful opponent, pushed through the measure to kill the RTA, leaving no one to fund or run the KRM.
That was in the summer of 2011.

Last year, officials in Vos' district were wondering, as Foxconn loomed, might we have an RTA?

Probably not, since Vos believes transit is a social service, you know, for those people, so imagine all the expense drug-testing them before they could board a bus, penchance, a train?

Might they also ask why RTAs have been dead for nearly eight years?

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