Eau Claire, Wisconsin–whose urban area barely has more than 100,000 people–is located on Interstate 94. United Airlines offers residents two daily flights to Chicago. Greyhound has buses to Chicago and Minneapolis, while Jefferson Lines has buses to Green Bay and Minneapolis.
But that’s not enough for members of the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition, who want train service from Eau Claire to Minneapolis and Chicago. Why? Because millennials don’t want to drive; everybody wants to take the train; only cities with trains will grow in the future; blah, blah, blah.
People who believe this line of drivel probably don’t want to know the real data. In FY 2015, Amtrak carried 6.60 billion passenger miles, down from 6.65 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, in the 12 months ending in November, 2015, Americans drove 3.14 trillion vehicle miles, up 3.6 percent from the previous 12 months.
It’s bad enough that Amtrak is wasting more than a billion dollars per year carrying insignificant numbers of people on trains like the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette, the San Jose-Sacramento Capitols, and the Oklahoma City-Ft. Worth Heartland Flyer, to name a few of the biggest money-losers. We simply can’t afford to run heavily subsidized passenger trains to every little city and town in America in order to sooth the egos of the rail nuts in those cities. Anyone who doesn’t want to drive is welcome to take the bus, which gets even less subsidies than United’s planes to Eau Claire.