March 29, 2009

City rallies for KRM, as prelude to budget hearing

KRM supporters rode our trolley-bus Downtown

Racine awoke Sunday to weather not at all conducive to thoughts of a long commute. But by the time the KRM rally took place at 1 p.m., roads were clear and minds were focused on the future.

A future with commuter rail service from Racine to Chicago and Milwaukee, bus service from here to wherever jobs are, and a fixed-rail trolley around downtown.

The rally at what once was Racine's State Street train station, transformed a few years ago into a local bus depot, was a prelude to what organizers hope will be a good turnout tomorrow when the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee holds a budget hearing at Case High School and hears local testimony about the city's strong desire for millions of dollars in public financing for commuter rail and a regional transit authority to take over and improve local bus service. Gov. Doyle's budget has proposed to finance that with stimulus funds and a half-percent sales tax.

Mayor Tom Friedel, right, led the first of two trolley rides around downtown along the State Street-Main Street-Sixth Street-Marquette Street loop he would like to see a fixed-rail trolley some day. "This is the last, best chance Racine has to get on board with the rest of the country, with a good transportation system," Friedel said.

Focusing on jobs, and how to bring workers to them, he said, "A lot of the buses that leave our station do not go where the jobs are. A rail connection to Chicago and Milwaukee would bring our workers access to hundreds of thousands of jobs there."

Friedel said Racine's big employers "are telling us they need a regional transportation system to bring workers here. It's time; it's way time," he said. "We've been talking about this for 15 to 20 years."

Three mayoral candidates attended the rally: Kim Plache, Jim Spangenberg and Q.A. Shakoor II, but only the latter two rode the trolley around downtown. Spangenberg said "KRM is definitely part of our vision for Racine. This city is so great: great housing stock, the lake. There's no reason this city can't be more than it is now."

Shakoor pointed out the improvements and reduction in crime that have come in the last few years to his 8th Aldermanic district -- location of the State Street rail station -- and noted, "We hope we can push this across the finish line."

Petitions in support of KRM were available for signing at the rally, organized by Sandy Petrykowski of Community for Change. There were also cookies in the shape of train engines, with "KRM" written on them in frosting. (Too bad we ate them; might have made a difference with the legislators!) The Joint Finance Committee budget hearing at Case High School runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, March 30, one of half-dozen conducted around the state.


  1. Gary Becker supported the KRM too! I guess he was looking to get to the shopping malls faster!

  2. StopthemadnessNOW3/29/2009 4:00 PM

    Thanks for the coverage! Sincerely hope that our lawmakers get the message.

  3. This is like shooting fish in a barrel:
    1) METRA and the CTA are both bankrupt. A bus ride in Chicago is $2.25 one way
    If the above systems do not get millions in tax dollars, both will quit running.
    2) For the KRM to break even all the trains will have to run 80% full each way every day. That would mean 10K+ a day.
    3) Where are the 100K+ jobs Friedel is talking about if they exist now why are we not taking cars to them? Because they do not and will not exist
    4) If you do not live AND work with in a few blocks the KRM is useless. Are you going to get up an hour or more earlier to catch a in Racine to take a train to catch a bus then walk to work and repeat in the rain in-10 weather.
    5) Please name any lt rail system that is even close to breaking even? Just one.
    6) How is this getting paid for when do we stop more taxes on the backs of the people?
    7) I will tell you this if the government wants to see rage keep up the never ending taxes for toys like KRM. The rage and it is coming will sweep the fools out of office
    8) Q.A what? it's an empty building. And you might want to talk to the folks at Save a lot and Mac's before you talk about the crime in your district. You might also want to come to one of the neighborhood watch meetings held next door to your home, I think its been over a year since you have been sited.

  4. Great coverage, thanks. We have been active in supporting RTA/KRM. Let's get it rolling !

  5. Sorry should have included this.

    Perhaps Friedel will start have the Racine BUS go to Parkside? Be a good idea to serve that school
    Then how about a Bus line to West of 94? You know those business parks out there.
    If not why not

  6. First of all, I can't believe there actually WERE train-shaped cookies (someone said this - I thought as a joke - on another thread).

    Second - what is going to happen when new businesses relocate here and everyone is already taking the train to all of these mysteriously-currently-unfilled-by-people-in-Illinois jobs in Illinois?

  7. Why in the world do any of you compare the train to a bus ride???? Just because they are both public transportation? There is no comparison! That's like saying there is no difference between riding in a Porshe vs. a Dodge Pinto!

    I would NOT take a bus to Chicago. However, I ride the train all the time.

    Can any of you name ANY type of public transportation that DOES make money? Of course not, none of them do.

    The freeways and roads drain our taxdollars too, but why don't I hear people in an uproar everytime the roads are improved or widened, or another lane added to the freeway?

    How are those road improvements getting paid for Colt? If I were given a choice, I'd fork my money over for train rather than adding another lane to I-94.

    There are many things the government is spending money on that I would consider a huge waste, but this isn't one of them.

  8. It is about time this area has the Metra. We need KRM. Colt, you are so negative about things. People like you are the reason this area stays the same and does not progress. Narrow-minded thinkers with blinders on. No one can tell you anything because you know it all. Only you don't. Kudos to Mayor Friedel, aldermen Spangenberg and Shakoor, and Kim Plache for their support.

  9. METRA and the CTA are both bankrupt.
    METRA and the CTA are both bankrupt.
    METRA and the CTA are both bankrupt.
    METRA and the CTA are both bankrupt.
    METRA and the CTA are both bankrupt.
    METRA and the CTA are both bankrupt.

    "This is the last, best chance Racine has to get on board with the rest of the country, with a good transportation system," Friedel said.

    Anon 7:39
    Who's got the blinders on???

  10. Can any of you name ANY type of public transportation that DOES make money? Of course not, none of them do.

    So of course we can afford another 100+ Million to build yet another?
    That's right we all exit to be taxed and taxed

    Who is John Galt

  11. I couldn't tell for sure, but was that Freedel or Becker?????????

  12. I take the METRA from Kenosha to Chicago about once a week. Depending on its schedule I might use the KRM but might continue to drive the twenty minutes to the Kenosha station, park in the well-lit, safe parking lot for $1.50, and get on the train.

    My point: even though I might (would probably) use the KRM, I don't think it is a good use of taxpayer money and believe that this is an effort to throw tons of predictions and social agendas at a losing project. Even though it might benefit me personally, I am unselfishly lobbying against it for the sake of other people's tax money.

    OK, bring on the criticism of me for being against the train because I'm selfish, have blinders on, am a naysayer, am insensitive to minorities, use too much toilet paper - have I left anything out?

  13. 7:59

    You also:

    Hate kids
    Hate Blacks and Hispanics
    Hate yourself.

    But under Obama' love you can be cured after a short stay in the camp you will feel so much better.

    7:59 you should also ask yourself who is John Galt

  14. . . . as for spending money on the train vs. adding another lane to 94, I would have voted for neither! I94 doesn't NEED another lane - Wisconsin needs to have drivers who understand the concept of driving slower right, faster left. I can't count how many times I've been on the highway when it is backed up by three or four cars going alongside each other at the same speed for MILES. God forbid you try to pass one on the right because suddenly they go from fifty or sixty to eighty. You could have TWENTY lanes and there would be nine (or ten) cars going in each direction alongside each other.

  15. A fixed trolley ?? dig up state, main & sixth street again ??
    please tell me about all the development around the kenosha station . metra is going to run on same schedule as krm-lol

  16. 25 people = city ?? Now I know who NOT to vote for Kim Plache, Jim Spangenberg and Q.A. Shakoor II.

  17. Urban Pioneer3/30/2009 1:26 PM

    This was the first I heard of a fixed Trolley/ Shuttle from State St Station into Downtown. it's gonna be a Cutesy as the Stupid thing in Kenosha. Running empty back and forth all day long. Good grief in a day and age where were THROWING money at Windmills, (Literally), and other assorted nonsense. It is ridiculous to even begin to think about blowing another 100 Million on a system that won't come anywhere close to even. In fact the best projections seem to think an 80% subsidy will still not be enough!!

  18. The mayor says that our mayor employers want the train so they can bring in employees? We have people right here in Racine out of work. How much are they willing to pitch in for the train?

    This train is rediculous. It is not even well thought out. We need to think about future technology of transportation. We do not need another Metra train. That Metra to Chicago is SLOW. John Dickert lies when he says it brings in developement in the millions of dollars. When you ride the train you see vacant and boarded up buildings. Evanston has more than one stop and the crime there is high. The train stops there are run down. (not million dollar developments)

    If the train was a great idea then some private business would come in and do it. But they won't.

    As a society we could decide we need the train and give up what? schools, health care, what are we willing to do without?

  19. Just a few questions:
    - Why not put this to referendum and see how voters really feel about it?
    - How many potential KRM riders have tried the CoachUSA bus? It runs essentially the same route as KRM would, except all you have to do to get on is stand at an existing bus stop and wave at them.
    - If we needed to keep this "budget neutral" what programs or things in the city budget should we cut? Are you willing to give up parks to have it? Social programs? Police or fire?

  20. I'm really surprised at all the angry, nasty comments people are posting about this issue. Rather than being negative - please offer some alternative suggestions for bringing jobs or giving access to jobs in the region.

    KRM/RTA is a good first step in the right direction.

  21. 10:17 here you go IMHO

    Mass Transit
    1) Run a bus line from Racine to the business parks on I 94
    2) Run a line from Downtown Racine to Parricide
    3) Run a line from Racine to Kenosha
    Note all the above ended due to lack of riders not lack of work to be found. KRM will be the same thing

    Bring Business to Racine/Wisconsin
    1) Lower taxes
    2) Remove any role that RCEDC has in marketing this area. Same with Ramac be sure to tell Roger it's not 1950 anymore
    3) Send City staff to Wind 09 the largest Wind Power Trade Show in the WORLD just 80 miles away. I am going myself what fun I will have tell the companies from around the word about South East Wisconsin and Racine City of,