This week, I’ll be getting back to basics in terms of my of coverage of the Save the Train movement–yes, it really is one. Much has been said already about the catastrophe that will befall Wisconsin if we do not go ahead with this project: Loss of $100 million, immediate loss of 400 jobs, loss of 4,000 eventual construction jobs, and no train to show for it!  I’ve worked to make it clear that cancelling the train would  really be the biggest Boondoggle of them all.

But I think it’s also important to take some time to remember why Wisconsin so desperately wanted high-speed passenger rail in the first place. Let’s remember that if the train does go ahead, we not only avoid all those bad things I mentioned above, but we gain an amazing new weapon in our transportation arsenal!  Here are six reasons why the high-speed train will be a huge asset to Wisconsin’s infrastructure. I’ll be covering these in greater debt during the week:

1. Wisconsin will be connected

What is often forgotten when referring to the project as the “Madison to Milwaukee train” is that that’s only a leg in a long-term high-speed rail infrastructure plan–a plan twenty years in the making.  This is a project that will provide an efficient transportation alternative that will eventually be fast enough to compete with air travel (once you factor in waits at airports). It’s a type of travel that will allow people to get work done while they travel.  It will easily connect businesses, universities, tourists and families to cities all over the Midwest.

2. The riders are there now and there will be even more of them in the future

Just because someone says “nobody will ride this train” does not actually make it so. The Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha line is hugely successful passenger rail service. The fact of the matter is, we have a large aging population that will soon no longer be able to drive. Madison, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, La Crosse, Chicago all have large populations of students and young people who don’t own cars. More and more young professionals live in city centers without cars.  Business people want to take the train because they can do work and ride to a meeting prepared and relaxed.  The ridership is there. The ridership will grow.

3. Jobs

Jobs: Wisconsin needs them. This project creates a lot of them.

4. Rail corridor improvements

In addition to building a high-speed passenger train, this projects funds much-need freight rail improvements.  Commerce! Jobs!

5. Supports car-free living

Some people view environmentalism with great skepticism, but think of it more as human-species-protectionism. Trains have less impact on the environment than the cars that would carry the same amount of passengers. As gas prices increase and our planet heats up (yes, it’s really happening), high-speed rail will give people a way to efficiently get around without relying on cars.

6. Trains are a pleasure to ride

As anyone who’s taken an Amtrak train in the last few years can attest, trains a great way to get around.  Put your feet up, walk around the train, give you kids some space to play, have a beer or a sandwich, get some work done…it’s all possible on a train.

Also, if you need more convincing, here is Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz explaining why this rail project is so important.

New Links

Advocacy

Eau Claire Leader Telegram – Question of the Week (Let them know why you want high-speed rail in Wisconsin)

Editorials

Oshkosh Northwestern – Pay no attention to that woman tied to the tracks

Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter – High-speed rail line should proceed

John Nichols: Walker creates jobs, but not in Wisconsin

Bloomington Pentagraph – Walker should pick fight with Illinois

The fast train represents opportunity

Editorial: The arguments against rail just don’t measure up

Cancellation of high-speed rail will kill jobs

Our view: Minnesota aims to be ready for rail (Winona Paper, Discusses Wisconsin)

Chris Rickert: Putting your money where the train is

Letters to the Editor

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

La Crosse Tribune – Funding train is money well spent

Sheboygan Press – Rethink position on train

Stevens Point Journal – Plan to cancel high-speed rail project wrong

Blogs

Backwards we go!

Rail Cheaper and Faster Than Air

Fast rail operating costs would be 1% or less of highway operating subsidies


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