Commuter Rail Vehicle Demonstration
November 15, 2002
Dave Trowbridge, City of Madison, 267-1148; Sharyn Wisniewski, Dane County, 267-8823; Daniel Yeh, WisDOT, 266-2753.
COMMUTER RAIL VEHICLE DEMONSTRATION
About 200 people board a new commuter rail vehicle in Madison today for a demonstration run between the UW-Madison Engineering campus and downtown Middleton. The vehicle is a self-propelled railcar called a Diesel Multiple-Unit (DMU), manufactured by Colorado Railcar Manufacturing, LLC.
The DMU represents a type of vehicle that might be used in the future to provide commuter rail service in the Greater Madison area. The demonstration coincides with the recent completion of Transport 2020, a study that recommended commuter rail service as part of a larger strategy for improving regional transit.
Madison Mayor Susan J.M. Bauman said, “This is an opportunity to see what our future might hold. The DMU could be part of a multi-modal transportation system that connects Madison and Dane County; that encourages compact development along transportation corridors and at stations; that provides a safe and speedy alternative to the automobile.”
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said, “The decisions we make on transportation are vital to the beauty, character, and livability of our entire community. Commuter rail merits attention. There has already been a lot of money invested in the rail track and corridors. As we consider the best ways to get people conveniently to and from work, it only makes sense to build on our existing investment.”
Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Tom Carlsen said, “The Colorado Railcar DMU is a sleek and exciting new vehicle that offers an attractive vision for public transit in Madison and Dane County. Today represents a great opportunity for us to glimpse the future possibilities for transportation in Wisconsin.”
Transport 2020 is a study that was jointly conducted by the City of Madison, Dane County, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) between April 2000 and August 2002. The study recommended a number of improvements to the regional transportation system - including commuter rail, electric streetcar, expanded bus services, and park-and-ride lots.
Transport 2020 concluded that the multi-modal transit system being recommended would provide a realistic alternative to the automobile and virtually limitless people-moving capacity in the primary service area. The commuter rail element of the recommended system would not be affected by traffic congestion growth. For example, as the Madison metropolitan area continues to grow, a 20-minute travel time for a commuter rail trip in year 2010 will still be 20 minutes in year 2050 - whereas an automobile’s travel time will likely increase significantly.
The recommended system’s elements are to be implemented in phases over the next several years. A key element of the recommended Start-Up System is commuter rail service, initially operating between East Towne and Greenway Center in Middleton.
The committee also recommended a Full System Vision, to be implemented over a longer timeframe. Commuter rail system extensions possible with the Full System Vision could include McFarland, the Dane County Regional Airport, and Sun Prairie. Additional future extensions might include Fitchburg, Stoughton, Oregon, DeForest, Cross Plains, Waunakee, or other interested Dane County communities.
Another important aspect of the Transport 2020 regional system is its ability to help shape the way that Madison and Dane County grow into the future. The Transport 2020 analysis showed that the recommended system would have a direct impact on land use and development in the service area. At station areas in particular, the analysis showed that the increased level of high-quality transit accessibility provided by implementation of Transport 2020 would result in enhanced development and redevelopment opportunities in those areas. Transport 2020 is also expected to have a positive impact on property values - both commercial and residential - in those areas served by the system.
The recommendations of Transport 2020 are now being reviewed by the Madison Common Council and Dane County Board of Supervisors. Additional information about the Transport 2020 project, including the final report documents, can be found on the project’s website at http://www.transport2020.net .
Today’s DMU demonstration run is made possible by the cooperation of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, the City of Madison, Village of Shorewood Hills, City of Middleton, Dane County, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Additional information about the DMU can be found on the website of Colorado Railcar Manufacturing - http://www.coloradorailcar.com .
Attachment: Start-Up System Map
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