By Marie Rohde
Although the high-speed rail connection between Milwaukee and Madison appears to have been derailed, the train connection between Chicago and Milwaukee seems to be zipping along.
Amtrak, the federal government’s national passenger railroad, reports record ridership between our fair city and our neighbor to south.
Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak in Chicago, said those riding the rail jumped nearly 6 percent from 738,231 passengers in 2009 to 783,060 in 2010. The boom is not an anomaly, he said, noting that the increase during the past five years has been 49 percent.
The popular Hiawatha line runs seven times a day between Milwaukee and Chicago (except on Sunday when there are six runs). That makes the run Amtrak’s ninth-most popular, he said.
A one-way ticket on the regular-speed train costs $22.
Rail proponents like Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn assert the increased ridership is an indicator of interest in expanding high-speed rail connections throughout the Midwest.
Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s governor-elect, remains firm in his position that the high-speed connection between Milwaukee and Madison — an important part of the ultimate connection between Chicago and Minneapolis — is an unnecessary burden on taxpayers.
Marie Rohde is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. She was looking forward to taking the train to Minneapolis but now is entertaining thoughts of hopping a freight train.