Friday, January 29, 2010

Rail as Religion

I have to confess that I kind of like trains. I think its crazy to drive to downtown Chicago unless your schedule leaves you no other choice. But I was struck by this statement in a Journal Sentinel article about the silly extension of high speed rail from Milwaukee to the Dane County Regional Airport. Rick Harnish, executive director of something called the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, says the following: "Currently, people are forced to drive, and that's the most expensive and least productive way to travel ...."

As a categorical statement, that's just false and it reflects a frustrating tendency on the part of rail advocates who seem to want rail for rail's sake. Rail is a system for transporting people between two fixed points. It works well when a sufficient number of people want to move between those two fixed point with one of them being, more of less, the starting point and the other the end point. This is the case with transit between downtown Milwaukee and downtown Chicago.

It is most decidedly not the case with transit between downtown Milwaukee and the Dane County Regional Airport. The need to make a second trip - between the airport and where ever in Madison travelers really want to go - will make travel by train more expensive and less productive than travel by car.

A high speed train between downtown Milwaukee and the Capitol or University might make sense. This train - as a way to get to Madison - does not.

Yet rail advocates will support it just because it's rail.

49 comments:

Dad29 said...

After all, what does Common Sense have to do with it?

George Mitchell said...

I almost always take the train to Chicago, for obvious reasons. Applying the same criteria to Milw-Madison, I could rarely see any reason to ride the train.

Morning paper says nearly $28m a year will be needed in operating subsidies. Great. That estimate will be WAY LOW.

Who can blame Madison's mayor for thinking it's great? What city would not want federal and state taxpayers to offer up nearly a billion dollars?

Quite a pricetag to help Gov. Doyle piece together a "legacy."

Anonymous said...

George, let's not play fast and loose with the facts. The morning paper says that $28 million in operating subsidies will be needed. By 2022, that is. And that's in combined subsidies for a fast train to Madison, which you think wasteful, and upgrading the Hiawatha to Chicago, which you think worth it. The paper says that $7.5 million in operating subsidies would be needed for the Madison to Milwaukee leg in the first year of operation. That's about $7 per expected ride in the first year. Keep in mind that providing speedy rail between Madison and Milwaukee as well as Milwaukee and Chicago also enables Madisonians to take speedy rail to Chicago.

$7.5 million is a lot of money, but viewed in the context of a $6.8 billion DOT budget for the 2009-2011 biennium, not so much. To be sure, highways are built primarily with user fees -- 60% or so; but the remaining 40% comes from general revenues (state and federal both). So Joe Taxpayer is subsidizing highway use as well as train use.

Investments in public infrastructure are sometimes worth it and sometimes not. This one makes more sense if there would be a commuter rail spur from the Dane County airport to destinations like UW and the Capitol.

Anonymous said...

I was myself questioning my very liberal wife on the bizarre love affair some people have with rail. Apparently as long as it is "high speed" or "light rail," you will find support, even if it costs millions and runs to and from points no one wants to traverse. I propose light rail from Neillsville to Abbotsford. Do you suppose the people in Washington don't know that Milwaukee has its own airport so we don't need a train to take us to a smaller one in another city?

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Rick. The JS article also quoted a good number of people who said they would use the new high speed rail line for work-related commutes. I'm not no argument can be made against the proposed high speed rail, but I don't think you can support a line like "This train - as a way to get to Madison - does not [make sense]," by riffing off a single quote from a rail supporter. As frustrating as that sentiment may be to you -- though I think it has some merit, particularly when it comes to productivity, as noted in the JS article -- "this train doesn't make sense" is equally frustrating w/o further legwork that you don't do.

If you're really interested in the topic, and want to further public discussion and understanding of it, you should look into it a bit and then comment. There are a number of factors to consider, such as discussions about connecting rail or transit lines in Madison (which the article discusses) and the labor advantages of getting work done while commuting in a train rather than the limits of driving in a car, etc.

This isn't to say you just can't react to stuff, particularly in a blog. But, in this case, your indictment just isn't supported by the evidence.

George Mitchell said...

"George, let's not play fast and loose with the facts."

You state that the per-rider subsidy on the milw-madison leg will be $7. Not clear if that is one-way or round-trip. Assume round-trip, for which the paper reports fares will range between $40 and $66 (they really have the details nailed down, huh?). If the operating cost per round trip is $7 subsidy + 40 (or 66) fare I would be the first to concede that the economics are rather impressive. I cannot believe that will be the case. Ridership assumptions and economies of scale are all important and there is no evidence that systematic analysis has occurred. My guess — just a guess — is that some folks at WisDOT have plugged a bunch of numbers using extremely optimistic assumptions.

As for thinking the Milw-Chi upgrade is "worth it," I made no such observation one way or the other. I think the train as it now operates is fine. If they need periodic investments to maintain the track, coaches, and locomotives, so be it.

The main point is that the factors motivating people to use the train to Chicago are largely non-existent when it comes to the Milw-Madison experience.

George Mitchell said...

"If you're really interested in the topic, and want to further public discussion and understanding of it, you should look into it a bit and then comment. There are a number of factors to consider, such as discussions about connecting rail or transit lines in Madison (which the article discusses) and the labor advantages of getting work done while commuting in a train rather than the limits of driving in a car, etc."

So, who has done the analysis called for above? So far it sounds mostly like the glamor of "free" federal money has driven decisions. Sounds like the decision has been made to spend nearly a billion and find out the answers later to the questions raised above.

Dad29 said...

Anyone who wants to work on the trip can take the BadgerBus--and actually get to downtown Madison!!

At about $38.00 round trip.

Try another fairy tale.

James said...

I can't think of a single reason to use this to get to Madison. I can get a tank of gas (approximately 400 miles if full) for less than the $40 ticket, so economically, I'd be stupid to ride the rail. Plus, arrangements need to be made at the airport to get to the final destination. It's a bigger hassle than driving. Taking the train to Chicago makes some sense considering how dense the area is around union station and how easy it is to walk or cab to your final location.

It seems that the fascination with trains is either old world nostalgia, Europe envy, or a totalitarian desire to control people by forcing them on trains that run where government overlords say and when the overlords say.

Anonymous said...

So, who has done the analysis called for above?

Here.

Anyone who wants to work on the trip can take the BadgerBus--and actually get to downtown Madison!!

In about twice the time w/o the same consistency of a dedicated rail line. But beyond that, this isn't just about Milwaukee to Madison. The BadgerBus serves an important purpose for a number of riders, and it should and will continue. The high speed rail line is something different. Narrowly, it's about providing a fast consistent route between the Madison-Milwaukee corridor, which overlaps with a service like BadgerBus, but it hardly replicates it. The broader view is that this is one link in a system that will stretch beyond Madison to the Twin Cities and beyond Milwaukee into Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit, Des Moines, Cincinnati, Cleveland, etc. I don't think our bus system is primed for that.

Anonymous said...

The Madison station location is actually up in the air. It was concretely "the airport" because that's what DOT put in the application for federal funds and they didn't want uncertainty to hurt our chances. Now that the money's been secured, Yahara Station, on the isthmus (which makes a lot more sense) is back on the table. In any case, both stations would interface with the proposed Dane County light rail system which would offer quick transportation to points downtown. Most importantly for Milwaukeeans, the light rail system will have campus stations at the Kohl Center and South Campus Union (one block from Camp Randall) which would make it very easy to go to Badger games from Milwaukee or Chicago without taking a car into Madison.

Rail is cheaper and more efficient than car-based travel overall but there's something that train proponents (myself included) don't like to talk about. Mass transit is cheaper only if you don't also have a car. It's cheaper to take trains and buses if they relieve you of the necessity of buying and maintaining a car but, if you have a car, you're making loan payments and parking the thing whether you use it or not. This will never change if we don't start creating alternatives, even if they're not cheaper in a car-centric environment. The first advantage of high speed rail will be speed and convenience. It's faster than driving and you can sit and work/chat/sleep on the way. When the system becomes good enough to allow a lot of people to drop a vehical (if not all of their vehicals) then it starts to save everyone money.

Dad29 said...

When the system becomes good enough to allow a lot of people to drop a vehical (if not all of their vehicals) then it starts to save everyone money

Work on making pigs fly...it'll happen sooner.

We should take the choo-choo to Pick'N'Save? The movies? Stein's Gardens & Gifts?

Oh.....I forgot. In the ideal world there will be no lawns, and we will all live in 40 really really really large apartment/condos downtown.

All 1.2 million metro residents. Every single one.

And all the buildings will be right on top of the train station.

BadgerBus is quite predictable, and FAR more frequent than the proposed choochoo. But I know that high-priced lobbyists don't want to associate with the sort of folks who ride (ugh) busses.

George Mitchell said...

The information in the state’s application is interesting. Thanks for the link. I have a life and don’t purport to have read it all.

Here’s an interesting observation from a “There is [sic] no historical data associated with operations and maintenance costs associated with the re‐instatement of intercity passenger rail service on the Milwaukee‐Madison corridor.”

The information in the state’s application is interesting. Thanks for the link. I have a life and don’t purport to have read it all.

A few tidbits from the “risk mitigation” table, keeping in mind Gov. Doyle’s assurance that this is a “shovel ready” project:

“Train set equipment specifications are being developed by the states involved with the MWRRI and potentially coinciding with a nationwide effort; progress must continue to determine train set equipment specification in order to acquire and implement service by 2013.”

“Next generation locomotive acquisition specifications are not yet developed; process must be initiated to determine locomotive specification (light weight, high horsepower, high acceleration and low center or gravity) in order to acquire to coincide with PTC implementation in 2016 allowing for high speed intercity passenger rail service.”

“Concepts are presented for stations; no engineering has been initiated.”

“There is [sic] no historical data associated with operations and maintenance costs associated with the re‐instatement of intercity passenger rail service on the Milwaukee‐Madison corridor.”

The study appears to assume that Milwaukee-Madison ridership will be more than 41% of the Chicago –Milwaukee ridership (338,000 v. 808,500). A crude calculation suggests this study assumes more than 900 people will ride the Madison-Milw segment on a daily basis. Realistic?

What I could find on market analysis and demand would be dismissed out of hand by a banker practicing due diligence (not to be confused with a Barney Frank-Chris Dodd banker). It represents what one would expect from a project where the political leaders have pre-determined feasibility. For example:


“The purpose of high speed intercity passenger rail service along the corridor between Milwaukee and Madison is to help meet travel demands by re‐establishing reliable, efficient, frequent and cost‐effective rail service within the corridor…Rising fuel prices will result in passengers opting for lower‐cost alternatives to highway and air travel. Along with fuel costs, congested transportation networks cost travelers and businesses money in the form of lost time and productivity. Changing demographics of the region are also expected to affect travel demand. Between 2000 and 2030, the population of Wisconsin is expected to rise by 19 percent, with the largest growth occurring in the over 65 age group (90 percent increase). This group is an aging demographic that is still active and has a growing need to travel longer distances
comfortably. High‐speed intercity passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison is, needed to improve regional mobility and enhance intermobility, which in turn can promote economic development and livable communities…” etc. etc. etc. development in proposed station areas, etc etc etc”

AnotherTosaVoter said...

I always find it interested when people who repeatedly state the value of religious faith mock the idea of faith itself.

Global warming? Well there's some evidence, but if you'll believe in it you're a fool.

Rail? It works in a lot of places and would be a valuable alternative, but if you believe in it you're a fool.

Sky wizard for whom no evidence exists? We need to base our entire society on an arbitrary version of his/her/its/their beliefs, and in some cases compel it by law.

Uhhh...ok?

Anonymous said...

"What I could find on market analysis and demand would be dismissed out of hand by a banker practicing due diligence"

If you say so, George.

Of course, my original point is that none of the DOT analysis, which could be found by a simple google search on "Milwaukee Madison high speed rail," was considered by Rick before posting his conclusion that the project doesn't make sense.

George Mitchell said...

The DOT analysis is extensive as to the known and unknown engineering issues. It is near-nonexistent when it comes to ridership and related issues.

No one doubts that a high-speed train can be built. That is not the issue. Rather, the issues are whether ridership will equal 40%+ of Chicago-Milw levels and whether the state can afford the operating subsidies when it faces per capita structural deficits that are about as high as in ANY state.

Who thinks that anyone in the DOT hierarchy even raised those issues when its report was prepared? As Jim Doyle shops for a legacy he liked the looks of this project and said "do it." Perhaps a public information request should be submitted asking for DOT documents on ridership and whether anyone had the temerity to question the project from within the Doyle administration.

Anonymous said...

So it's going to be a failed project, but Doyle is blinded by the fact that he wants it as his legacy. Yeah. Makes sense.

It is near-nonexistent when it comes to ridership and related issues.

Hardly. See this report, particularly p. 41-64. As it concludes: "Given all monetized benefits, the estimated rate of return in the medium ridership scenario is 6.9 percent. At a 7% discount rate, an $867 million investment results in over $702 million benefits and with benefit to cost ratio of approximately 0.81. At a 3% discount rate, a $1,077 million investment results in over $1,354 million in benefits and with the benefit to cost ratio of approximately 1.26." FYI, citing the 7% rate point is standard federal practice in cost estimations and was required as part of the application process, although it's worth noting the discount rate is currently 0.5% and hasn't hit 7% in about 20 years.

What's more, as cited in the DOT analysis, further economic and financial analysis for the project was completed by the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative for the DOTs in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin, highlighting how this is part of a broader regional network. You can read that analysis here (courtesy of another easy google search). As it happens, the analysis finds that WI will have the 2nd largest economic benefit from the regional transit system at about 15-20% of the estimate $23 billion positive economic impact of the system over the next 30 years. As you'll see if you check out the study, far more than just ridership is pertinent to a full economic impact assessment of the project. It's also worth noting the regional economic assessment was completed under the assumption of 80% federal financing for the capital project, not the 100% that taking advantage of ARRA funding offers.

Dad29 said...

You also noted, I am sure, the table on P. 55 which estimates "annual trips" by rail at 360,000.

That is 1,000/day, or 500/day each way.

Subtracting 175/day (the expected air-traffic loss to HSR from the Twin Cities to Chicago) we have 325 passengers per day, EVERY day, between Madison and Milwaukee.

Really?

Dad29 said...

To that "trips/day" number....

Congressional Research Service (2009) reports that about 3% of inter-city traffic goes by HSR on 'short trips'--defined as less than 150 miles.

Extrapolating your number, Anony, means that either the DOT report contained some 'enhancements' OR that there are currently 9,000++ passenger trips/day between Milwaukee and Madison, EVERY day of the year.

4,500 each way, every day.

Really?

Anonymous said...

Congressional Research Service (2009) reports that about 3% of inter-city traffic goes by HSR on 'short trips'--defined as less than 150 miles.

Well, then, I guess there were over 25 million trips between Milwaukee-Chicago last year, or about 70,000 EVERY day of the year, since around 765,000 passengers rode the rail line between those two cities in 2009. And that rail line isn't even high speed, yet.

Out-of-context and oversimplified math sure is fun!

Anonymous said...

there are currently 9,000++ passenger trips/day between Milwaukee and Madison...Really?

As it happens, there are about 90,000 average daily vehicle trips per day between Milwaukee and Madison. And that's vehicle trips, not even passenger trips.

George Mitchell said...

I read the material cited by "Anonymous" yesterday. It relies almost solely on the expectation that ridership levels will be 41% of those between Chicago and Milwaukee. For each rider a long list of "benefits" are described and "monetized." So, the analysis begins with an assumption that is tenuous and then uses makes assumptions about a wide range of benefits and the monetary value of same. I have a choice now as to whether to see the new Mel Gibson movie or to go back through the voluminous material to see what assumptions justify the ridership number. In the meantime, I invite comments from any and all who think they will pay $66 round trip instead of hopping in their car and driving over and back on their own schedule and arriving at their own destination without having "intermodal" complications at the beginning and end of each trip.

Anonymous said...

That DOT study linked to above is pretty cool.

There are a bunch of reasons to build this high speed rail line. First, let's not forget that this is part of a stimulus package. When there is massive unemployment and just about everyone in construction is collecting unemployment comp, that's a good time for the Government to invest in prudent public infrastructure. Puts people back to work, gets them paying taxes instead of drawing unemployment comp, helps to ramp up the economy. And, since demand for construction is lower, the Government gets the infrastructure built for a better price than it would when the economy is at full employment. We're still using the Milwaukee County Courthouse, with all those great old WPA murals.

But would there be the demand? You know there are a lot of folks who go to Badger games who really shouldn't be driving home. (By the way, the number of people who die in this country in passenger train accidents is approximately zero, compared to substantially more for car transportation.) These folks aren't going to be taking the Badger Bus, which is not a particularly pleasant travel experience. (My daughter lives in Madison. She hates the Badger Bus.) Train would be cooler. Badger fans, kids going back and forth to UW, commuters who want to use their commute time productively -- yeah, there's a fair amount of demand for this service. There certainly are plenty of people boarding that Badger Bus to Madison every time I see it.

This is, to some extent, an investment in the future, as all public infrastructure is. There's every reason to believe that demand will increase. Traffic on I-94 west to Madison is more congested than it used to be; this isn't getting any better, and high speed rail alleviates that by providing an alternative. Building high speed rail now takes advantage of current economic conditions -- need for public spending to stimulate the economy, benefit to the government of building at lower cost in a down economy -- to prepare public infrastructure that will be more needed in the future.

There'll be spinoff economic benefits. Watertown, downtown Oconomowoc, and the old Village of Brookfield area will get boosts.

Productive economies invest in public infrastructure -- in roads, bridges, schools, and, yes, trains. There are foolish public infrastructure projects too, but this doesn't seem like one to me. I don't know what Tommy Thompson has to say about this, but in general he's been a huge supporter of passenger rail. If Jim Doyle and Tommy Thompson agree on the need, at least the faith in rail is ecumenical.

John Foust said...

AnotherTosaVoter, you crack me up.

I'll add the hypocrisy of people who've spent a fraction of their working life exchanging water-cooler gossip about the inefficiencies and incompetencies within their private employing companies, yet who firmly believe that such human ineptitude only exists in government agencies and among blue-collar union workers.

Anonymous said...

I read the material cited by "Anonymous" yesterday.

The report cited in the 11:50am comment today is within the same set of reports cited in the 6:15pm comment from yesterday.

Unless something deeper than "really?" pops-up on this thread, I think I'm going to leave it with this final link, which includes letters of support for the project from a number of business associations in the state, including the MMAC, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, the Oconomowoc Area Chamber of Commerce, the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce, among others. In addition, a number of public officials are signed on in the document, as well, including GOP governors Tim Pawlenty and Mitch Daniels.

Clearly, a project that doesn't make sense, supported only by over-the-top rail enthusiasts and the blind, legacy-driven ambitions of Jim Doyle.

George Mitchell said...

This project — the one supported by all the signatories cited by anonymous — is better than a 50-50 chance to become reality. Not certain, but likely. The "cool" DOT study connects all the procedural dots, consistent with the policy directives of the Governor and President. Will nearly 1,000 people a day ride, including on weekends? We will see. Can a country and state in unsustainable fiscal straits afford $1 billion plus operating subsidies? Clearly, no. The next thing we'll hear is that it would be even better if it cost $2 billion.

Dad29 said...

George, it's clear that ChooChoos are like Global Warming.

Religion.

George Mitchell said...

Feasbility 101:

A project financed by private equity and bank debt will face a multitude of doubters (unless it is a home loan for someone who cannot repay).

A project financed by government will face the kind of scrutiny favored by anonymous.

Dad29 said...

As it happens, there are about 90,000 average daily vehicle trips per day between Milwaukee and Madison

Proving nothing at all germane to this conversation.

Those are not "point-to-point" trips; that's just total traffic.

Are they going from Hudson to Kenosha? Racine to Waunakee?

Who knows? YOU certainly don't.

Further, the Doylet Line will NOT get anyone where they want to go in Madison, which is either the Capitol environs (including UW, generously), or Middleton's business hub.

Try again.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you insist on using the 3% figure cited by the CRS, then I'd say it's pretty reasonable to say that within the 90,000 vehicles are 9,000 passengers who are traveling between Milwaukee and Madison, or to the proposed HSR stops in Oconomowoc and Watertown, and out of that there are 270 who would be diverted to HSR.

That's certainly at least as believable as the figures when applied to actual ridership on the existing Milwaukee to Chicago line, which to meet the 3% standard would require 70,000 daily travelers between those two cities (vs. the 9,000 needed between Milwaukee and Madison) for the 2100 average daily HSR riders on that line, while the DOT says daily vehicles on the Milwaukee to Kenosha stretch of I-94 is 110,000 (vs. the 90,000 on the Milwaukee to Madison stretch).

Of course, I can only hope that's as germane to the conversation as "really?"

Dad29 said...

That's certainly at least as believable as the figures when applied to actual ridership on the existing Milwaukee to Chicago line,

Wrong. Chicago, like Manhattan, has a highly-concentrated downtown business district relatively close to Union Station.

The CRS report took note of that factor when discussing, e.g., Manhattan's train utilization.

There IS no 'highly concentrated business district' in Madison--and CERTAINLY not one near the airport.

There is the Capitol and UW, and there is the Beltline/Southwest.

As to Milwaukee, the Downtown bizdistrict is almost entirely banks, insurance firms, and lawyers. And NONE of them are near the RR station. In winter they seem much further away, in fact.

Try again.

Anonymous said...

I have the estimates of a detailed analysis (multiple, actually, at least one of which was independently audited and its ridership estimates were determined to be sound, p. 3), and have further pointed out that the estimates for the Milwaukee-Madison line are only 40% of the actual ridership levels for Milwaukee-Chicago (not even HSR, yet), while the actual vehicle travel down the Milwaukee-Madison I-94 stretch is 80% that of the Milwaukee-Chicago I-94 stretch.

You, then, come back with "Chicago, like Manhattan, has a highly-concentrated downtown business district relatively close to Union Station," and want me to try again?

George Mitchell said...

anon...can you direct us to the data suggesting that milw-madison highway traffic is 80% of chicago-milw? thanks

Anonymous said...

I already did. Here it is, again.

The comparison is between the Milwaukee-Madison I-94 stretch and the Milwaukee-Kenosha I-94 stretch. If you take issue with the comparison, you could double the numbers from the Milwaukee-Kenosha stretch, and that would then put you at 40% for the Milwaukee-Madison stretch, which is equal to the ridership estimates.

That said, if you're getting to that level of quibbling, then it's only fair to also take issue with the fact that currently Milwaukee-Chicago isn't HSR, and making it HSR will take 45 minutes off the trip, putting it a little under an hour and in a much better position to further compete with air and auto travel, which would increase ridership on that line. So, an HSR-to-HSR comparison actually puts Milwaukee-Madison estimates under 40% of the Milwaukee-Chicago line.

Of course, the experts who put together the WI DOT study plus the 10 other studies that include analysis on the Milwaukee-Madison line from the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (see here, p. 4) already know all of this, plus much more. I'm sure the WI DOT would oblige any inquires into specifics about how it can justify its ridership estimates, if you're truly interested. Contact info for the DOT rep who can answer your questions and address your disbelief is at the bottom of this page; and she's paid for it.

Dad29 said...

Nice report.

If you don't clear out of Madistan by 4:30 PM, next choochoo is 9:30 PM.

That will be appealing. (P. 76)

The report also claims that by 2025, RR travel will be FORTY-SEVEN PERCENT of the overall travel market.

On P. 127, the forecast seems to say that there will be 338K riders on the MKE/MAD segment, annually.

1,000/day.

Here's your comment on ridership:

I'd say it's pretty reasonable to say that within the 90,000 vehicles are 9,000 passengers who are traveling between Milwaukee and Madison, or to the proposed HSR stops in Oconomowoc and Watertown, and out of that there are 270 who would be diverted to HSR.

If we grant 900/day will be happy with the point-of-departure and point-of-arrival (and the timetables, which aren't TOO promising), then you'll get 900/day. I doubt it.

That 900/day assumption rests on another assumption: that the vast majority of those trips are for all-day stays--OR that the projected timetable accomodates, neatly, the projected time-of-stay in Mad or Mke.

I happen to travel to/fro Madistan 6 times/month and take a passenger. Weekdays, I leave at 1630--because I must be downtown Madison by 1800PM four times/month. I leave downtown Madistan at 1930. The other two trips I leave at 0530 Sunday w/arrival in Madison 0640, departing 0745. I grant that it's an unusual schedule. But the timetable given does not accomodate that schedule very well at all. That's 12 less passenger-trips that count. And while my schedule is unusual, it's not necessarily un-representative of a LOT of other MKE/MAD trips.

I know very few business folk who will happily sit in a cabstand or train depot for 2 hours when they could be at office/home in exactly that amount of time (or less.)

Unless it's "billable time."

Note that "destination" counts here: downtown Madistan is NOT the point-of-arrival/departure for the choochoo.

And we also note that the choochoo will lose $15MM/year on $25MM/year in revenues, if I read that table correctly.

Anonymous said...

Again, if you're truly interested in the details of the ridership estimates or the proposed time schedule at start-up, contact the DOT. I'm sure they'd be happy to provide details on the methodology for determining both ridership estimates and the proposed start-up schedule.

And if you want to get a broader perspective on what the business community thinks of the project, beyond your personal acquaintances, I suggest contacting the MMAC, the Oconomowoc Area Chamber of Commerce, the Oconomowoc Community Development Authority, the Oconomowoc Downtown Advocacy Group, the Downtown Oconomowoc Merchants Association, the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, all of which have given strong support to the proposed project.

Dad29 said...

One of the reasons that I'm happily in the TEA Party movement is that, unlike thinly-disguised "spend money on MY pals" trade associations, TEA Party people think Government spends too much, all the time, on ANYONE'S pals.

Endorsements from professional high-dollar-funded rent-seekers fail to impress those of us whose children and grandchildren will be paying the bills.

You could impress far more with common sense.

And, suddenly, you cannot read the report YOU cited as to timetables?

My.

Anonymous said...

And, suddenly, you cannot read the report YOU cited as to timetables?

I know it's just after noon, but are you drunk? And, if not the bottle, then where are you getting a comment like this?

John Foust said...

Paul Soglin says two stops in Madison are being considered.

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Dad29 said...

Yup. So long as someone else pays for them.

By the way, the First St/151 stop is about 6 blocks from the Capitol, and about 10-12 from UW.

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