Spencer Black: Still shaking my head at Scott Walker's train follyhttp://host.madison.com/opinion/column/ ... user-share
"Sometimes a politician does something so dumb that it’s hard to stop shaking your head at the folly. Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to hand back $810 million to the federal government — money that would have built a fast train from Madison to Milwaukee and Chicago — remains one of the most unfortunate and stupid acts in recent Wisconsin history. Not only did Walker deprive Wisconsin of a modern rail system, his ideological rigidity cost our state thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars.
I was reminded recently just how foolish and harmful Walker's actions were when I had the chance to ride a fast train in Europe. I was in France visiting my son, who is teaching at his university’s Paris campus. While there, I traveled to southern France by train. A train trip creates 90 percent less pollution than flying.
My destination was farther from Paris than Louisville, Kentucky, is from Madison. Yet I arrived in less than three hours, traveling over 180 miles an hour in total comfort. In a few places, the train paralleled a freeway, and although the cars were driving at their top speed, the train flew by them as if they were standing still. Since I was in France, I sat back with a glass of wine and observed the scene out the window. It was like riding through a painting — small villages of stone houses and ancient churches amidst fields of deep green and vibrant yellow.
Another benefit of the train was convenience. It went from city center to city center — no long drives to and from the airport on the outskirts of town. When I fly, I’m admonished to be at the airport at least an hour before my flight departs. There was a time warning for the train: They urged passengers to be at the station two minutes before departure."