Saturday, November 25, 2006

New route for commuter rail

Larry Sandler reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the continuing saga of efforts to return commuter rail to Milwaukee.
In its latest form, the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line, or KRM Commuter Link, would offer more frequent service and more stops - but at a higher cost - than the version that emerged from a previous study in 2003. Passengers would have to change trains to continue into Illinois.

Sixty years ago [15 pp. pdf] Robert R. Young complained in an ad campaign that "A hog can cross the country without changing trains - but you can't." With Amtrak, you still can't; you still have to change trains in Chicago. For $237 million, Milwaukeeans would have the opportunity to change trains just to get to Chicago.
Fares would be similar to Chicago's Metra trains, at less than $10 one-way between Milwaukee and Kenosha.

About thirty cents a mile to travel 33 miles. That's 2/3 the business auto mileage deduction rate and substantially more than the non-business rate allowed by the IRS. And that $237 million is just the capital cost.
Operating costs would run $14.7 million a year, with fares covering $3.8 million.

If a ten dollar fare covers about a quarter of the operating costs, then the operating cost is about $40, or $1.20 per passenger mile. It might be cheaper to rent limos.

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