Listen to the high-speed rail segment (MP3) of mine and John’s radio interview with Vocalo, recorded Monday, July 11, 2011. Listen to the full interview. Interviewers are Molly Adams and Brian Babylon.
Molly: With what you know about urban planning, and changes happening, how realistic is a possible high-speed rail, in the region. Maybe, we’ve heard talk of a St. Louis to Chicago, Chicago – Minneapolis, Chicago – Madison, what’s the future on that?
Steven: The Midwest has been planning HSR for decades. It is finally starting to happen. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), with the railroads that own tracks from Chicago to St. Louis, have been working to replace the tracks to allow for trains to operate at 110 MPH. Before, the top speed was like 75-90 MPH, but we don’t yet have trains capable of going 110 MPH. And the plan is for IDOT to purchase trains that can go that fast. So St. Louis would be the first segment. That’s the only one that really has funding right now. There is funding to upgrade tracks between Chicago and Milwaukee, on the Hiawatha Line, also to increase speeds to 110 MPH.
Brian: What will that do? Tell me the benefits – what will that do? In your two cents.
Steven: The first thing it will do is lower the travel time between the two cities. Then, that has an affect of more customers who didn’t ride the train before, because now they see the attractiveness of a slightly faster ride. Because maybe 5 hours was too long for them to St. Louis, but 4.5 hours makes a little more sense and once we have two tracks to go between Chicago and St. Louis, so trains can bypass each other, they can increase the speed even more, and go down to 4 hours.
Molly: That sounds like something I’d sign up for. I don’t have a car and I’ve never had a car, so all alternative transportation stuff is very interesting to me but I think when you have a car and you rely on your car for transportation it’s very easy to check out of this. Brian, can you speak to that?
Brian: Yeah, I only like to drive. This whole bike thing to the picnic was cute but I only like to drive.
Molly: Let’s say if it was easier for you to get into town on a train?
Brian: Yeah, but to get where I need to go. Once I get to town, that’s the problem.
Steven: Where’re you coming from?
Molly: Yeah, you guys should make an alternative transportation plan for Brian.
Brian: From the south side. If I can get a bike on the train, comfortably
Molly: He’s right by the 47th Street Green Line stop.
Brian: It’s really bad for me. I’m working on it.
John: You drive downtown to Navy Pier?
Brian: Every day!
Molly: Pay for parking?
Brian: Every day! I could save hundreds.
John: How much does parking cost for employees here?
Brian: Too much. $8. That’s about 40 bucks a week. Gas…He’s laughing!
Molly: Steve’s like shocked and appalled.
Steven: No, $8 is very cheap. I can understand that you would want to drive every day. Because parking pricing policy is one way to discourage driving. And parking seems plentiful here at Navy Pier.
Brian: If it was $20 I would be biking. I would have the nicest legs. In Chicago.