Jeramey Jannene

Senator Dick Durbin Standing Up For Quality

By - Mar 20th, 2008 11:36 am
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Milwaukee Intermodal Station
Originally uploaded by compujeramey

It’s good to see Senator Dick Durbin demanding better service from Union Pacific on the Amtrak route that runs from St. Louis to Chicago.

What does this have to do with urban Milwaukee? The expansion and improvement of Amtrak (greater frequency of runs, faster service, ultimately lower prices) is good for Milwaukee’s most urban neighborhoods.

The downtown location of the Milwaukee Intermodal Station is great for nearby land values and for access by the greatest number of riders. Easy for us that live here to get out, and for travelers from other cities to get in. The money spent to redevelop the station was worth every penny.

So the station is great, but where can we as Milwaukeeans travel to easily through that station? Currently Minneapolis and Chicago are the only easy destinations (and the few small city stops along the way). Transferring to other lines in Chicago is plausible, but service delays and the frequency of runs make it somewhat difficult.

If Senator Durbin and the people of Illinois get their way, Union Pacific will improve the conditions on the rail line and Amtrak service will improve. This will increase the ease at which Milwaukeeans can get to St. Louis.

More efficient connections to big cities will only drive more people to Milwaukee’s inner-core of great neighborhoods. Better service is both great for business and great for urban residents.

Long-term hopefully this will lead to the development of a high-speed rail corridor that includes Milwaukee. The Chicago-St. Louis route provides a great opportunity to test and implement technologies because of the lack of freight travel and the relatively flat terrain.

High-gas prices, long security check times at airports, and increasingly more extreme weather conditions will lead more and more people to Amtrak and innovators like Megabus. What can be done to create a better, more efficient service? Improving the Chicago-St. Louis line is a good first step towards building a super-efficient rail network in the fresh coast.

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2 thoughts on “Senator Dick Durbin Standing Up For Quality”

  1. Fonzie says:

    Hiawatha should be extended to Indy so that you don’t have to change trains in Chicago, you just stop for 20 min and keep rolling. But now that I think about it, could do the same with st. louis trains.

  2. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Fonzie yeah, you could make that case with both routes.

    If you look at the way Union Station is configured though, it appears to encourage routes going to Milwaukee and straight back.

    Long-term I guess Amtrak just needs to figure out the most c0st-efficient way to utilize trainsets and crews.

    I really would like to see a focus on more city to city routes (which seem to be the better performing ones) as opposed to long-haul cross the country routes.

    If you look at service like Milwaukee to Minneapolis it’s pretty poor and expensive because it’s tied to that long haul route. Make that just a Milwaukee to Minny route (or Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis) and I think long-term service would improve.

    Now, if we could only get cheaper service from Milwaukee to Chicago I think the number of riders would go way up.

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