June 19, 2008

Lehman, Becker, Vos on Regional Transit committee

State Sen. John Lehman has been appointed to a legislative committee charged with making recommendations on changes in state law to allow local governments to create, fund and operate Regional Transportation Authorities (RTAs). The twenty-two member Special Committee on Regional Transportation Authority will, in addition to Lehman, include Mayor Gary Becker and Rep. Robin Vos. (Two out of three ain't bad, if you get my drift.)

“Racine County is at the forefront of the debate on how we fund mass transit develop transportation alternatives. I’m looking forward to working with representatives from our area and from across the state to figure out how we can develop and fund a 21st century transportation infrastructure that offers people effective alternatives and respects their interests as taxpayers,” Lehman said.

“Our KRM commuter rail project has great potential to bring needed jobs and economic development to Racine County and give people alternative transportation as they deal with high gas prices and an upcoming freeway reconstruction. I’m committed to protecting the progress we have made and to moving forward on funding issues.”


  1. Please Rep Voss kill the thing called KRM!

  2. Keep clinging to that objectivity Pete...

    (Wake up and smell the bias)

  3. KRM will bring in lots of workers who will spend money in the area, but it will also drastically improve the friends and family consulting business and allow numerous no-bid website design contracts (the $1 million for a $15 K job variety). But Pete, every time I hear this the story KRM becomes everything to everyone - it will bring jobs here - it will allow people to get to all of those jobs in Illinois that no one there seems to know about or want (and employers down there will suddenly and happily provide free shuttle service to and from the train station) - and many other variations.

    What do YOU think it would do in the long term? Before Greg Helding comes on here spouting some sort of nonsense about previous careful analysis of economic development in juxtaposed geomorphic corridors (it has been a few weeks since Greg sat red-faced at his computer scolding me for making comments about someone's online degree - of course this was plenty of time for Greg to have obtained a PhD in public policy and a Master's in locomotive engineering and marketing from the University of Northwestern Uzbekistan Southern Shore, so he would be tremendously more able than I to comment), what do YOU think KRM would do?

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  5. I think we need to get with the times. Major metro areas are connecting to each other via mass transportation and Amtrak was just recently rescued and given more money then they have gotten in years...mainly because of high fuel prices. If we do not do something soon, we will regret it in the long run. If there was the option to hop a train cheaply to either Milwaukee or to Chicago, I would surly look for a job in one of those communities while still making Racine area my home as I do enjoy living here.

  6. Dear John,

    Wisconsin Coach Lines offers bus service to and from Kenosha Metra station to downtown Milwaukee. Hop a bus cheaply ($3 from Racine to Milwaukee)
    Start looking for that job.

    BTW, if mass transportation is such a great idea, why must we "rescue" it?
    Have you been following the mass transportation crisis in Milwaukee and Chicago?

  7. John:

    I work (or play) in Chicago once in a while and drive to the Kenosha Metra station, park for $1 and ride all the way to Union Station for around $6.50. I can make it to Kenosha by car in about 20 minutes, and I wonder how many Metra riders from Waukegan south drive 20+ minutes to the train. My suspicion is that it is many of them and my point is that living in Racine with a station in Kenosha is comparatively very convenient.

    Even if a line were built from Racine to Kenosha, I would continue to drive to Kenosha to board the Metra there. A Racine station would require driving to the Racine station, paying to ride the train, and changing trains in Kenosha. If your car gets 20 miles to the gallon, you would spend $6-8 per day with today’s prices vs. how much (probably that price or a bit less) for the Racine to Kenosha train ride (plus the extra time involved). One of the great “myths” of the KRM is that people could live in Racine and ride around on the train without needing a car. Without a taxi service in Racine (sidebar: Racine government tried that one, lost lots of money, put the service and cars up for bid, saw the high bid, became unhappy with the high bid, eventually put it back out for bid, the former high bidder bid less than the first time and got the service and cars – some of these incredible minds and negotiators will be helping establish and run a multi-hundred million dollar train project) one will need to use a car, or use a bus or ride a bicycle or walk, to get to the train station. If you own a car it makes sense to drive to the Kenosha station.

    Going north is a bit different, although I have taken the bus and it isn’t bad. Like the train, it has a limited schedule and is a bit slow but is a decent option. Again, if one has a car, it makes sense to drive the thirty minutes or so to Milwaukee. I would propose expanding the bus service maybe with some more express routes to Milwaukee from Racine to how many people use it and when.

    The previous anonymous brings up another great point - the Illinois transit system has had problems and a big mistake in business is hooking your business to another that you depend on. What if Illinois decides to cut its service to Kenosha someday? The KRM folks will have no power to change this, unless they decide to start giving Metra money to keep the Kenosha run open. Gee, can you imagine that happening? Once the KRM is built it will HAVE to be kept running at any cost, otherwise it might look like the former Racine taxi project.

  8. 7:41

    Do not think this is NOT part of the plan I.E. for Becker to help his guy (and perhaps his future boss) in Chiago Mayor Daily pay for Metra with KRM money. For the money pit KRM to work Metra must still run a few million from the Southeastern Wisconsin Tax payers might go along way to help.

  9. First of all, the KRM line would run to WAUKEGAN, not KENOSHA, so people could transfer to the Metra in Waukegan (requiring a walk of, oh,maybe five feet across the platform) and catch the nearly hourly trains from Waukegan. Metra will never cut service to Waukegan. Politically, Metra can't do it.

    I take Amtrak almost every day to work. It is so crowded now that riders are sitting on the floor and perched on the luggage racks.

    If Wisconsin doesn't get its act together and invest in trains, light rail, and so on, it will fall hopelessly behind other areas of the country in terms of economic development.

  10. Another story change - it was Kenosha then it might be Waukegan now it is just Waukegan? I've been through Waukegan on Metra and I'm not sure how another set of tracks would be built to meet up with the Metra, let alone where the easements/right of ways would be placed in Illinois. It seems like doing construction or just improvements in Illinois would cost Wisconsin many millions of dollars. Anonymous 12 PM may be onto something . . .

    Besides, why would the planners want to bypass places in northern Illinois like Zion? Aren't there jobs waiting for Racine people in Zion? Aren't there workers who want to come to Racine from Zion? Aren't there several billion dollars worth of businesses in Zion that will relocate to Racine instantly if only there were a new train?

  11. Putting Robin Vos on the Regional Transit committee would be like putting Colonel Sanders on the board of PETA.