In Sunday's Crossroads section, John Gurda reflects on trains in Zurich and how cool it would be if we had them here in Milwaukee, rather than living in "Carland" - a world that he finds isolating, alienating and inefficient. It's wastefulness seems "self evident" (so he offers no support) and those who are "stuck" in their cars are "grim."
As I have blogged before, I like trains too. But, as I have also blogged, I am frustrated by the typical "pro-transit" writing which almost always ignores the economics. Zurich, of course, in nothing like Milwaukee. Its population density is almost twice as high. Fixed rail works when there are large amounts of people who wish to travel between fixed points. If that condition does not obtain, then rail is inefficient and will not be used. No amount of wishing it were otherwise will make it so.
Gurda's expression of delight at the fact that the feds will impose upon the city what he calls a "downtown rail network" - actually a train that goes in a square - is nothing more than an expression of taste without some sense of who will use it and what it will cost in comparison to alternatives.