Friday, June 27, 2008

Pardon me boy, but is that the Tim Sheehy choo-choo?

And that, my friends, is why I don't write my own headlines at the Waukesha Freeman.

I take on the silly idea that trains are the future, partially in response to MMAC President Tim Sheehy's column in last Saturday's Waukesha Freeman.

I'm sure Sheehy's friends all congratulated him on taking on big, bad, talk radio's Mark Belling. Woo, scary. As if it takes courage to repeat the CW talking points.

But I actually took Sheehy at his word, and I find the whole argument for a train ridiculous.

If the desire is to move from an origin point to an end point, and probably return, then transportation must be focused on that goal. Putting down fixed rails and requiring passengers to move along those points (regardless of the passengers’ desire) defeats the purpose of transportation.

Tim Sheehy’s desire for some sort of rail connecting Kenosha to Milwaukee is supposedly to service 360,000 jobs within three miles of the proposed stations. Even taking Sheehy at his word, three miles is a large distance for most people to traverse by foot, especially in bad weather. Sheehy’s choo-choo train will only require still more public expenditures at every point along the rails to complete the transportation from point to point.

Sheehy also fails to mention just how many people filling those jobs live within a realistic distance of the train. Which of Sheehy’s tax-sucking ideas can we expect to get people to the trains, and then from the trains to the employers, and then back to the trains, and then back to their homes? The proposed sales tax increase in Milwaukee County? The proposed state expenditures for the KRM line? (Read: money from Waukesha taxpayers.) More hotel and rental car taxes?

How would increasing tax burdens for what will likely be bottomless pits of mass transit desires improve the living condition of taxpayers and the conditions for doing business in southeastern Wisconsin?

On the other hand, how many hundreds of thousands of jobs are within a few feet of the nearest road built for automobiles? Roads that, despite MMAC’s supposed efforts, will suffer because the governor has raided the transportation fund. Roads that we have already committed to building and maintaining. Roads that are still the most efficient way man has devised of moving people, goods and services from point to point.

MMAC should expend its energies organizing car pools and private buses rather than figuring out new ways to raise taxes.