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Screw I-94 And Take Amtrak To Wisco

By JoshMogerman in News on Apr 30, 2011 7:00PM

Old Hiawatha Train [Doug Wallick]
If America is rethinking movie ticket pricing, sigh, why stop there? Over at Urbanophile, they are thinking about Amtrak. And specifically, the Hiawatha Line, which runs from Union Station to Milwaukee (and soon all the way to Madison —hey, go see some wolves!) for a very reasonable $22. The route is by far the most popular Amtrak service out of Chicago with a record 783,060 trips taken last year. Given the ongoing highway construction season on I-94, that number may continue to increase this year. We have taken the Hiawatha many times and never had a quibble with the price, but Urban Milwaukee writer Jeramey Jannene thinks that a more interesting (and complicated) model might push ridership to ever-more dazzling heights (off-hours discounts seem pretty natural and the Megabus model is interesting).

Heck, we like trains. And we like Milwaukee. So let's come up with a few more strategies to get folks onto the Hiawatha. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Bring back the cool-looking old orange Hiawatha trains! Who wouldn't want to ride those?

  • How about a premium New Glarus/Mars' Cheese Castle car with free refreshments (ooooh, and Apple Holler too, please!)? At $22 a ticket, we would probably ride that train into the ground.

  • Samantha suggests: "Shape the cars like Polish sausages and add a Steve Miller soundtrack." Before this turns into Wisconsin bashing, we do think that appearances by the Brewers’ famous racing sausage mascots could attract families (especially if kids can hit the hotdog with a baseball bat like Randall Simon).
Choo-choo Chicagoistas. What would you do to get more folks on the rails to Milwaukee?