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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Getting Into Training

Getting Into Training

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       I went to Chicago Saturday and only had to drive 10 miles to get there.


       That's because I took the train...something I heartily recommend.


       The Mitchell Airport train station was PACKED to overflowing by the time Amtrak arrived as scheduled at eleven a.m. prompt.    There were people heading to Michigan Avenue shopping trips, and a gaggle of folks headed to a medical convention at McCormick Place.     Our return train--the last one out of the Windy City at eight p.m.--was crammed as well.     Yet, there was room for everyone.


        It cost my wife and I $84 for two round trip tickets.      We paid another $10 for cabs.      It might've been cheaper to drive, but then again, I don't know what it would've cost to park in downtown Chicago on a Saturday, and I don't even want to imagine the hassle of negotiating Christmas shopping traffic, much less an Edens Expressway that seems to be bumper-to-bumper virtually any time, day or night.


        I've always maintained that Milwaukee is a car town.     We're the kind of people who want to drive to wherever we want, whenever we want, and be able to leave at our leisure.     And, we'd better be able to find cheap, abundant parking with spots no more than a half-block away from our destination.


        We think Chicago should be that way, too.      It was always an easy drive, once we got accustomed to PAYING for the right to use Illinois roads.       Parking could be an issue, but it wasn't off-putting enough to thwart the trip.    


        I'm thinking Amtrak is only going to become more popular as word gets out, and I expect a HUGE ridership spike when I-94 undergoes it's scheduled remaking after the Marquette Interchange is completed.     Think it's a pain in the butt driving to Chicago now?    Just wait until the freeway is down to a single lane on a hot summer day.  


         The train isn't perfect--you're a slave to Amtrak's schedule, although there seem to be more than enough departures.     It would be nice to have a couple of later trains--perhaps one that pulls out at midnight so you could get a ride home after a play or a game--but that may be asking for too much.      Milwaukee has a refurbished downtown terminal--pardon me, Inter modal--as well as the Mitchell Airport option with tons of cheap parking ($5 a day).     


        I've done the train before, and touted it's virtues to anyone who'd listen.      Judging by the crowds I saw on Amtrak Saturday, the secret is out.   I know the region is pondering a host of transit options, and that there are federal dollars sitting on the table just waiting to be spent .    I suggest that those who'll decide where that money goes hop a train or two before deciding how much should be set aside for rail alternatives.      I can't imagine trains becoming any less popular as time goes by and congestion grows.


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