I am writing in response to Steve Jagler's blog about the Kenosha Racine Milwaukee (KRM) rail project.
I generally vote Republican, and I am a staunch supporter of both the proposed KRM commuter rail and expanded Amtrak service in Wisconsin. I am flummoxed as to why the conservative talk radio hosts recoil from commuter rail like the Wicked Witch from a pail of water.
The Republican Party is big on individual choice and freedom, and that's what commuter rail is all about.
It gives people more choices about where to work and what mode of transportation to choose to get there. The only reason I can think of for their pathological fear of commuter rail is that commuter rail is common in big cities, which are bastions of liberalism. Perhaps they fear that commuter rail will draw more -gasp!-liberals to Milwaukee.
I lived in Chicago for 15 years and took both Metra to Kenosha and Amtrak to Sturtevant many, many times. It was a fast, reliable and inexpensive way to travel. I didn't even own a car for 13 out of the 15 years that I lived in the city.
Last month I moved back to Racine and am now taking either the Amtrak or Metra train every day to Chicago. The train ride itself is fine. I can read, work on my computer, or doze. What is frustrating, though, is the limited number of daily trains. (By the way, the trains are packed.)
When I take Amtrak, for example, there's only one train in the morning that I can take - the 6:44 a.m. train from Sturtevant. In the evening, there's only the 5:08 or the 8:05. Metra offers more trains, but it is longer drive to Kenosha.
I have written to both Amtrak and the Wisconsin DOT about improving passenger rail service, and the answer is always the same: there is the desire to add more trains and start up the KRM commuter rail, but no money to do so.
According to information on the Wisconsin DOT web site, the state will spend more than $500 million over the next two years on highway projects in southeastern Wisconsin. Yet the state legislature, in all its brilliance, could not find a way to fund $4 million in annual operating costs for the KRM commuter rail? I agree with Jim Rowen. That is pathetic.
Julie A. Jacob resides in Racine.