The occasion for Mr. McIlheran's column was a Reason Foundation study that concluded KRM Commuter Rail Plan's Supposed Economic Benefits Aren't Credible; System Would Require Massive Subsidies. The study arrived at similar operating cost amounts.
P.S. McIlherean quotes Tom Rubin in the study.
"Commuter rail is, to a very high degree, an all-or-nothing option," he writes. It's impossible to erase a mistake, so we'd just keep throwing money in.
That's a virtue, say rail's backers: Such permanence means riders won't worry that the route will change.
If that's what they say, they're ignoring history. Here on the left we see what would be the track used by the KRM. While it's single track now, it had been double not that long ago. To the right, parallel to the high tension lines, is the right of way of the long-ago abandoned MRK electric passenger rail line from Milwaukee to Kenosha.