Clean, Easy, Reliable & Affordable
UPDATE: This proposed project has been put on hold indefinitely due to the dissolution of the Southeast Regional Transit Authority, the sponsor of the project. See more
Connecting Milwaukee-Chicago economic corridor
9 stops in WI and connecting to 25 communities
the Chicago Metra U.P. North line.
Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee corridor has a unique and exciting
opportunity to develop high-quality commuter rail service
in an existing rail right-of-way.
The existing Union Pacific freight rail line would be
upgraded to add a commuter rail that would connect to
the very successful Chicago Metra that now ends at Kenosha.
It is envisioned that the KRM Commuter Rail service would
connect the lakeside communities of Milwaukee, Milwaukee-south
side, Cudahy-St. Francis, South Milwaukee, Oak Creek,
Caledonia, Racine, Somers, and Kenosha--and connect to
the Chicago Metra service to NE Illinois and Chicago.
Frequently Asked Questions
About the potential
KRM Commuter Rail
How is commuter rail different from other forms of rail?
Commuter rail stops frequently, connecting several cities
that are in a region. Diesel locomotives or self propelled vehicles
pull 2 to several passenger coaches on a right-of-way that is shared
with freight rail. Passengers board from platforms, usually at stations.
speed rail makes infrequent stops and connects large metropolitan
cities across the country or a large region. Diesel locomotives
pull passenger coaches on a right-of-way that can be shared with
freight trains. In many cases, luggage storage, food service and
sleeping facilities are available. Passengers board at stations
makes very frequent stops and connects neighborhoods and immediate
suburbs to a densely populated central city. Light rail generally
runs on rails in streets or in a right of way, and is powered by
overhead electrical wires. Passengers board light rail from the
will operate the KRM Commuter Rail service?
plan will be recommended in the Environmental Impact Study (EIS)
that is currently underway.
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much will KRM Commuter Rail cost to use?
KRM Communter Rail fares are expected to be similar to a bus. Potential
one way fares on the Milwaukee-Chicago line range from $1.80 - $8.20.
Milwaukee to Racine is $3.40. Racine to Chicago is $6.60. Discounts
are generally offered for a 10-ticket package, one month passes,
seniors, children, etc.
Where would the stations be?
Proposed passenger stations are in Kenosha, Somers, Racine, Caledonia,
Oak Creek, South Milwaukee, Cudahy St. Francis, Milwaukee south
side and Milwaukee at the Amtrak station.
When would KRM Commuter Rail be ready to use?
The Southeastern Reginal Transit Authority, created by the legislature in 2009, will operate KRM. Passengers could potentially ride on KRM Commuter rail by 2015
How will I get from the station to my destination?
Dedicated shuttles are being planned, and local transit serves nearly
every station. Passenger stations will be designed as multi-modal
passenger stations. This means that local and regional buses, shuttles
and taxis are all options. Areas around stations are being designed
to be walkable. Many cities along the route are planning coordinated
transit services to make KRM commuter train service easy, convenient,
Can I use KRM Commuter Rail with a wheel chair or using a
Yes. Each passenger coach will have a wheel chair lift that can also be used for
people with walkers. Open seating areas will be available for wheel chairs to "park" and for those with walkers to sit.
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long will the trip take?
KRM commuter train trip times are similar to or better than driving
during peak travel times. Examples of potential trip times are:
Time per segment
Racine to Chicago
Racine to Waukegan
Kenosha to Chicago
Cudahy to Kenosha
Milw. to Oak Creek
Milwaukee to Racine
Milw. to Kenosha
Milw. to Chicago
Will I get to my destination on schedule?
Reliability is an important benefit of commuter rail. Because trains
operate on their own right-of-way, they avoid traffic congestion,
accidents, construction, and weather delays. Train commuting is
more reliable than other modes of regional travel.
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Why do we need KRM Commuter Rail?
To meet a criritcal regional mobility need prioritized by businesses,
community leaders, and the regional planning commission. Commuter
rail links employers and labor. For businesses, the availability
of labor has become the single most critical factor of production.
As a region, our economic competitiveness relies on our ability
to connect workers and employers.
Commuter rail investments spur regional business and real
estate development that increases local and state tax base, and create new jobs.
Commuter rail service allows business to attract labor and customers from a
wider geographic area, resulting in more sales opportunities and a
higher-skilled work force.
Commuter rail acts as a catalyst in revitalizing existing
city centers and curbing urban sprawl. Studies show that suburbs also benefit
from healthy, growing cities. Clean and efficient mobility between urban and
suburban areas is critical for both to be healthy in the long run.
Traffic congestion is a severe problem in SE Wisconsin that
is projected to only get worse. In 1999, traffic delays costs the
Racine/Milwaukee metro area businesses and citizens $480 million. Traffic
hassles are a deterrent to attracting new business and new workers to our
Commuter rail improves air and water quality by reducing
driving. Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee are all under orders from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to implement plans to improve air quality.
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Why aren't the Amtrak trains and track used for commuter
1. Purpose and market: Commuter rail service is designed to serve daily
commuters traveling to work, people going to school, health care, events,
business travelers, and tourists. Stops are frequent and average operating
speeds are between 30 and 60 MPH. Fares are similar to bus fares. Commuter rail
connects cities in close proximity that are within a region. Amtrak serves
discretionary business and tourist travelers traveling between major
metropolitan cities or across country. Amtrak attracts riders by stopping
infrequently and providing fast service. Fares are significantly higher (2.5 - 5
times higher). The vast majority of Amtrak ridership in the Milwaukee/Chicago
corridor are from Milwaukee to Chicago. Additional stops would jeopardize
existing ridership base.
2. Location: Amtrak trains run on the Canadian Pacific line
that runs just east of I-94 in mostly undeveloped "green fields". The
KRM Commuter Rail route uses the Union Pacific line that runs along Lake
Michigan through densely populated urban areas and rapidly developing
communities where employees and employers are located. Rail stations are
development magnets. Existing communities along the lake want new development.
Stations in green field areas along Amtrak's route would encourage urban sprawl
instead of more efficient and environmentally sound compact urban development.
3. The Amtrak line is already very busy with 14 daily Amtrak
trains and 20-25 daily freight trains.
How much noise
does a commuter train make?
Commuter trains are much quieter than freight trains due to shorter
train sets (6 or less coaches versus up to 100+ freight cars). The
vehicles are newer and quieter because they are pulling less weight,
and the commuter trains go past very quickly compared to freight
trains. Additionally, when the track is upgraded for this project,
at least half of the 33 miles will be welded track construction
which makes both the new commuter trains and the existing freight
trains much quieter.
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How long will the delays at crossings be?
Since commuter trains are so short, delays are limited to 36 seconds at
non-station locations with a maximum of 110 seconds at rail station locations.
KRM Commuter Rail is expected to be in service as early as 2010/11.
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How will Commuter Rail
Benefit SE Wisconsin
Values and Tax Revenues
Investments in commuter rail create business and real estate
development opportunities. Commuter rail encourages high density,
high value mixed-use development. Following are just a few from
hundreds of examples of small, medium and large real estate developments
that were motivated by Chicago Metra rail stations.
HarborPark in Kenosha, WI was 60 acres of
lake front property left vacant and blighted after the Chrysler
plant closed. The property was assessed at $0. One of the
key goals of the HarborPark development was to attract residents
that would use Metra for their daily commuting. A over 300
units will be built with a value of over $100 million. The
annual property tax revenues will be about $2.5 million when
completed in 2006.
Arlington Towne Square in Arlington Heights,
IL is one of five developments that are a part of a very recent
major downtown redevelopment. In total, $200 million was invested
near a new Metra station (Metra service was existing before
new station was built). The Arlington Towne Square redevelopment
used old housing/commercial real estate that was valued at
2.5 - $3 million and brought in $65,000 annually in property
and sales tax. This property was transformed into the $65
million Arlington Towne Square mixed-use tower that includes
residential, commercial, retail, underground parking and a
theatre. Occupancy is near capacity in 2 years. $1.5 million
in annual property and sales tax are realized from the Arlington
Towne Square development alone.
Fox Island Place in Aurora, IL is a landmark
historical hotel that has been renovated into a 110 unit apartment
building. It is situated a few blocks from a recently renovated
and expanded Metra station. Occupancy is always at full capacity
with a waiting list. According to the manager, the biggest
selling point of Fox Island Place is their proximity to the
Metra station. About half of their tenants choose to not own
cars, instead using Metra and other transit services. The
manager stated that without the Metra station, occupancy would
be cut in half and the historical landmark apartments would
not have been developed.
Commuter rail service allows businesses to attract labor
and customers from a larger geographic area. In the shift from the
old economy where access to raw materials and minimizing costs were
the key components of production, to the new knowledge-based economy
of turning new ideas into products quickly, labor has become the
the single most critical factor of production. Commuter rail helps
attract and retain knowledgeable, motivated workers. A dense labor
market draws high value businesses. Likewise, a dense job market
draws highly skilled workers that these businesses require. Studies
show that business locations near high quality urban settings with
clean, efficient rail transportation are a priority for young knowledge
workers who are choosing a job. Competition is intensifying between
cities and regions to create the amenities and the business climate
that will attract highly skilled workers. Richard Florida, Professor
of Regional Economic Development at Carnegie Mellon University says,
"It is the ability to attract talent that creates regional
advantage: Those that have the talent win, those that do not lose."
People and businesses want to locate near commuter rail. More
people, more businesses, more activity and and more local spending
serves as a revitalization catalyst for urban areas. When completed,
the Harbor Place development in Kenosha (mentioned above) will bring
approximately 650 new urban dwellers that will be purchasing products,
services and entertainment in downtown Kenosha. A recent Transit
NOW survey of 100 seniors from Caledonia, a potential station site
on the KRM Commuter rail line, provides another good example of
how commuter rail increases visitor spending in a city. Of 99 seniors
surveyed, 100% said that they would take commuter rail. Of those
99, 90% would go to Milwaukee, 42% would go to Kenosha, 17% would
go to Chicago, 14% would go to Racine or South Milwaukee. The stated
purpose of their trips was 66% shopping, 65% musical shows, 51 %
restaurants, 47% theatre, symphony or ballet, 43% would go to museums.
These are trips that they would otherwise likely not have made.
Urban areas served by commuter rail are not the only beneficiaries
of urban revitalization. Economic vitality in a city brings economic
benefits to its suburbs. Commuter rail is an important component
in developing a vibrant regional economy by linking cities with
suburbs, where 48 % of the American work force lives. In fact, the
economic health of a city is benefits the economy of its suburbs.
Studies show that a one percent increase in the cities income growth
rate would increase the suburban income growth rate 0.45% and increase
suburban house appreciation 1.05%. (American Public Transportation
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KRM Commuter Rail will give people
a convenient and inexpensive option to dealing with traffic congestion.
In avoiding traffic congestion people can be more productive and
improve their quality of life. This is an important amenity that
strengthens businesses as they work to attract and retain good employees,
many who prefer employment locations that have modern rail options.
In addition, about, two thirds of commuter rail passengers are commuting
to work at peak hours. This helps to reduce traffic at the most
congested times on highways by removing the train passengers from
the roads. In looking ahead to our future, traffic congestion and
delays are expected even with the expansion of highways. As out
region grows, the additional traffic causes more inconvenience and
delays. Conversely, with commuter rail, as our region grows and
travel demands increase, trains are easily lengthened and the number
of trips increased. Even adding additional track is much less expensive
than adding lanes of highway. The added commuter rail service that
is prompted by our growth improves convenience
and mobility for commuters and travelers. KRM Commuter Rail can
provide a positive alternative to a future of congestion.
Parking costs and availability are becoming a top business priority
in urban areas. Businesses spend millions providing parking to employees
and shuttling employees from off-site parking lots. Urban retail
businesses suffer as customers perception of parking hassles keeps
them from visiting downtown. Milwaukee Downtown (Business Improvement
District 21) lists parking as one of its primary concerns. UW-Milwaukee
and Milwaukee Area Technical College student surveys list unavailability
of affordable, convenient parking as a significant problem. Commuter
rail provides a clean, easy, reliable transportation option that
benefits both the rail user who no longer needs to deal with parking
issues, and the auto user who has more parking made available by
the rail user. Many businesses in cities served by commuter rail
offer employees a small portion of the company's parking cost savings
as an reward for using transit.
Commuter rail is a very safe mode of transportation. In a typical
year the Metra system provides 1.8 billion passenger miles with
zero passenger fatalities or serious injuries. The average number
of highway fatalities for every 100 million passenger miles is 12.7.
Studies show that approximately one-quarter to one-third of the
cost of motor vehicle accidents are borne by business and society
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When people use commuter rail instead of a car, they are reducing
the air and water pollution that they would have caused by driving.
Commuter rail releases far fewer pollutants into the atmosphere
than do automobiles. The draft Environmental Assessment Report for
SE Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission's KRM Commuter Rail Study
(Wise Ride Study) states that KRM Commuter Rail will improve air
quality in SE Wisconsin. Currently, Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee
counties are all under orders from the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to develop and implement plans to improve our unhealthy air
Dense, transit oriented development is a more efficient use
of our natural resources, resulting in less energy used, less air
and water pollution, and less land consumed. Developing in a compact
manner and fully utilizing existing infrastructure instead of building
new infrastructure in far flung open areas is a much more efficient
use of tax dollars. Transit oriented development improves access
to jobs and vital services for those who cannot or choose not to
drive, removing a substantial barrier to independence for many and
providing an additional labor pool for businesses.
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