Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trains vs. buses

Short post, because I'm running off to a meeting. Sorry, not my best writing work.

Several people have suggested we don't need the Madison-Milwaukee train because "You can take the bus."

I have a few comments about this. Obviously this completely ignores the fact that the train also goes to Chicago and would be extended to the Twin Cities, not to mention the connections to points in between and cities throughout the Midwest network. And as you see below, there are distinct advantages to trains over buses, both for the individual, the state, and the operator of the service.

So, from a previous post in another medium:

A couple of notes on the bus vs. train. 

1. Buses can carry far fewer people than trains, and it is expensive to add a bus for peak need or time, because of the driver's labor cost. Far easier to add a rail car, and no additional driver. There are a LOT of people trying to move between Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, and the Twin Cities.

2. Buses get stuck in traffic, like Badger Games, Brewers games, peak hour every day into/out of any city, Summerfest, etc. Trains don't get stuck in traffic. Yes, I have many times been stuck in traffic on the Badger and Van Galder buses.

3. Buses move considerably slower than trains in bad weather. Trains have no problem in the snow, rain, wind, sleet, fog, etc.

4. To downtown Chicago: min. 3 hours by car, possibly much longer; min 3.5 hours by Van Galder, often 4 hours in heavy traffic; trains would be there in just over 2 hours. It is also faster to Milwaukee by train than bus.

5. No bus to Eau Claire or LaCrosse today? or only extremely slow and limited service? One of these would be served by the extension to the Twin Cities. Minimal and slow bus service available to Twin Cities now. Six trains per day planned for the MN extension, and very fast.

6. A minor point for some, but a major point for business travelers is that working on the train is much easier and more pleasant as compared to on the bus.

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