Letter: Gateway bus is laughableThe Gateway Commission’s plan for area transit to St. Paul was blasted by members of the Hudson-River Falls Area Rail Group in the recent hearings. The commission discarded commuter rail to Eau Claire, with a stop in Hudson, in favor of bus service.
By: William A. Draves, River Falls, Hudson Star-Observer
The Gateway Commission’s plan for area transit to St. Paul was blasted by members of the Hudson-River Falls Area Rail Group in the recent hearings. The commission discarded commuter rail to Eau Claire, with a stop in Hudson, in favor of bus service.
Steering committee members disputed the Gateway Commission figures used to dismiss the commuter rail option. Members of the Hudson-River Falls Area Rail Group found their numbers simply are not believable.
From a business, economic development, brain drain retention, and UWRF perspective, trains are needed to meet the needs of our area for transportation in the 21st century. Business people and professionals don’t take the bus. We ride trains — it’s hard to say “bus” without laughing.
Instead of a win-win for St. Paul and western Wisconsin, there is no “Gateway” at all in this plan. Instead of planning for the future with passenger train service, the Commission chose to waste time and money on fading bus transportation.
The local rail group took issue with costs, ridership estimates and economic benefits. They say:
If we want to reverse our local and state brain drain, we need trains to bring back our best and brightest young people. Department of Transportation data clearly show young people switching from cars to trains, accounting for the record train ridership since 2005. They see how commuter and high speed rail provide opportunities that cannot be attained by cars and highways alone.
Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough was right in stating at a Gateway briefing the economic the value of light rail and commuter rail, including increased housing values, private investment, job creation, and keeping our young here.
The steering committee of the Hudson-River Falls Area Rail Group will continue its efforts to educate the public on the essential role of trains in our area.
William A. Draves, River Falls
Hudson-River Falls Area Rail Group