Wake up, Rick!
Many thanks to Rick Berg for bringing me with him on his trip down memory lane ("Let Them Eat Commuter Rail," 6/27/08).) His depiction of Madison as a dead town was so 1980s, I felt like I should put on my mood ring and Earth shoes. Gas was under a buck a gallon, and the flight from the city to the McMansions on farmland was in full swing. Big cars, big houses, big hair - it was all there for the asking. It was "Morning in America" all over again.
Wake up, Rick. It's 2008, and gas is $4 a gallon and likely headed for $6 a gallon by next summer. Downtown Madison is no longer owned by fraternity students wearing togas. Million-dollar condos cap gleaming new homes that meet the needs of a growing demographic: single- and double-occupant households. Top-end restaurants abound throughout the downtown serving these urbane residents.
However, not everybody can afford to live downtown. In fact, many who live in the far more economical suburbs are having a tough time paying for the commute downtown with the high price of gas and the even higher price of parking.
It's time to bury the culture-wars rhetoric and work together towards regional solutions to our very expensive auto-dependent commute. Forcing people to drive won't help anyone but the already-rich oil companies.
Madison is at the heart of a growing region that needs regional transportation solutions. One essential component of that solution is modern transit. Portland, Denver, Minneapolis, Tacoma, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Dallas and many other cities that are competing for the next generation of leaders have all made new investments in modern transit.
Every one of those communities is reaping the benefits of cheaper commutes, better development and the strong support from their residents.
Those of us who are lucky enough to live near transit know the benefits of a good transit system - and we want an even better transit system.
If I drive to work, it will take me 10 minutes from my near-west-side home. It will cost me about $2 in mileage (at 50 cents a mile) and about $7 in parking for a total of $9 a day. That adds up to nearly $2,000 a year just to get to and from work. If I use the monthly bus pass, I cut off nearly $1,500 from that tab. If I bicycle, I put all of the savings in my pocket.
That is great for me, but because of opposition to transit from people like Rick Berg, most people in Madison are forced to drive their cars.
Steve Hiniker, executive director, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin
Rick Berg has it all wrong. Gas prices are never going to go down. Apparently he is not aware that world oil production has peaked, and no amount of drilling or road building will alter the fact of increasing hardships for all of us.
After a few more years of rising prices, gas stations will be shutting down and rationing of gasoline will be a permanent feature of our lives. Rail transportation is our only hope for getting our necessities delivered.
Christopher X. Burant
I think it was a cheap shot for Mike Slavney to criticize Epic, one of America's most enlightened corporate citizens, for moving to Verona after being forced out by Madison ("Epic Creates 'Green Sprawl,'" 6/27/08"). Perhaps it would be more enlightening to know what has been done during the past six years to make sure that Madison officials don't make the same kind of shortsighted mistake again.