One of her readers asks what seems like an obvious question.
I am fascinated that no one brings up the fact that the cities that our city fathers & mothers are emulating all have much larger populations, very different demographics, and much longer commute times than Madison. And it is population, demographics and commute times which determine the market for light rail or trolleys. If someone can show me a similarly sized city to Madison that has a successful light rail/trolley system I might be convinced; but to the best of my research there is none. Chicago has about 3 million people. Portland has 1.7 million people. San Diego has 1.25 million. And, having lived in both areas, I can tell you that the commute from Middleton to downtown Madison IS NOTHING like the commute from San Ysidro to downtown San Diego.The problem, dear reader, is that Madison has a bad case of Kenosha envy.
It is sheer serendipity that the State Line got snow today.
The Kenosha trolley service is a downtown circulator, with several cars operating around a loop serving the Metra train station on the west and some museums and parks at the lake shore.
Furthermore, Kenosha's northern neighbor Racine is also considering trolleys.The Madison plan, however, does not sound like an operation intended to serve tourists, which later can be expanded, a la Memphis and possibly Kenosha, to serve shoppers and commuters. (Oh, and I wish newsies would learn something about railroads. What on earth is a diesel-electric hybrid train? Are we talking about your basic internal combustion engine spinning a generator that provides current to motors geared to the wheels, the way Hermann Lemp and Harold Hamilton envisioned it around 1920? Is it a train that draws power from trolley wires on city streets and then operates on the diesel-electric principle away from the trolley wire, also an old idea? Or is there some drive system in the manner of a Toyota Prius that I don't know about?)
Trolleys, however, are going to make a comeback where there is utility for them. If Indiana runs a service Hammond-Munster-Valparaiso-Lowell, it is replicating and then extending a Gary Railways service from before the Depression.
I will not be so bold as to suggest that residents of the new subdivisions of East Troy and Mukwonago become advocates for an extended interurban service.