While in the course of running a number of errands late last week, I heard a clip on WIBA-AM of Mayor Cieslewicz talking about the choo-choo. It’s no secret he’s a big fan of light rail, passenger rail, heavy rail, medium rail, trolley rail, and all the kinds of rail there are. But what he said stuck in my mind, and I spent a couple minutes with a calculator and the internet to try and figure out if what he said made any sense at all.
Mayor Dave said estimates are that there would be around 500 thousand (half a million) passenger boardings per year at the soon-to-be-built train passenger terminal in Madison, near the Monona Terrace Convention Center. Half a million a year.
Since most people don’t listen with a critical ear, this stuff just goes past them. But let’s break it down a bit. If there are to be half a million passenger boardings a year in Madison, simple division tells you that’s an average of 1,370 passengers per day. I know, some days would be heavier use days than others, but let’s just go with the straight average.
The average Greyhound bus carries 50 passengers. So according to the figures the Mayor is using, that would mean an average of 27 busloads of passengers would board the train in Madison daily. That, for those of you who aren’t good in math, means a busload full of people every hour on the hour, plus 3 “extra” busloads, on average, every single day of the year.
Do you believe that number? I sure don’t. It’s no wonder there’s so much to-do about this whole rail thing. I believe that the people who support rail are people who are not exactly fans of the automobile, nor the bus, since both burn fossil fuel (gee, I wonder what the train runs on…….) and use the roads, which leads to the evil URBAN SPRAWL and LOW POPULATION DENSITY and on and on.
But half a million passengers a year, boarding in Madison? Really???