Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Support divided for ‘Dane Train’ street car proposals

Public transportation in Madison may grow feverishly in the next few years if Kathleen Falk gets her way.

Falk, a Dane County Executive, is pushing a proposal nicknamed the “Dane Train.” The proposal would create a 12-mile rail system running from Middleton down University Avenue through the downtown and into the west side of Madison, according to The Capital Times.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, however, has conducted his own research on the topic and is proposing a streetcar system as opposed to a railway system, according to Melanie Conklin, his assistant.


Cieslewicz took a group of developers and city officials to Portland, Oregon, over the summer to observe the West Coast city’s streetcar line.
Charlie Hales, the architect of the streetcar system in Portland, will make a trip to Madison this fall to discuss a possible plan like this.

Streetcars are cleaner and quieter than a diesel railway system and can run on a track or on the street with other cars, Conklin said. They also allow frequent stops, meaning they are more flexible for students and workers traveling short distances around Madison, she added.

Ald. Austin King, District 8, said he supports either the streetcar proposal or a railway system because both increase transportation into and out of Madison. He feels students should be given another alternative to riding a bike or taking the bus around the city.

“Both are absolutely worth exploring,” he said. “I think there’s a good chance that they can mesh well together.”

While the “Dane Train” proposal would travel from downtown to the west side, transportation is mainly needed from the north to the south sides of the city, according to Conklin. She added that the streetcar system would serve Madisonians better because it would pass through residential areas and surrounding neighborhoods.

“The mayor believes the best place for a starting line would go north, near the Mallard Stadium, cut through the isthmus, hitting Monona Terrace, the Alliant Energy Center and the Kohl Center and then head south down Park Street,” Conklin said.

The tentative streetcar plan includes routes to the Dane County Airport and downtown to tourist and business areas. Supporters hope it would help attract business commuters from the large working base.

The plan would affect students because it could help students travel around campus. Conklin said she believes the north-to-south streetcar system would allow students more access to what Madison has to offer outside of campus.

“If students wanted to go up to a Mallards’ game, or get to the Alliant Energy Center for a concert, or even to the airport to fly home, they could use the streetcar system,” Conklin said.

University of Wisconsin junior Kristy Lou Haskett agreed with Conklin.

“Unless you have a moped, the options for transportation are the 80 [bus route] or walking,” she said. “A new public transportation system is definitely needed for students.”

King said he agreed an alternative public transportation system is worth consideration because of traffic problems caused by downtown structures.

“The one thing either system will do is help students around the stadium,” King said. “People can hop on the train to go down to the game and there would be a lot less trashing of the neighborhoods by Camp Randall.”

UW junior Dan Patterson said he prefers biking around campus.

“It’s not really safe and the walkers take over the campus,” he said. “Even if you drive, people just jump out and think they have the right away.”
Although Cieslewicz appears to have the streetcar system set in stone, there remains room for change, Conklin said.

“Until we get better ideas on funding sources, we are holding off on calling it a set plan,” she noted. “We are looking at this as more of a work in progress.”

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