Who We Are:
All Aboard Wisconsin is an alliance of organizations and individuals promoting passenger trains, connecting buses and other public transportation choices statewide as an integral part of Wisconsin’s and the nation’s travel network.
All Aboard Wisconsin seeks to engage Wisconsin residents in thoughtful and informed conversations about, and to help find solutions to meet their transportation needs in the coming years; emphasizing the role and efficient coordination of intercity passenger trains and other connecting transportation services.
All Aboard Wisconsin sponsors the new Wisconsin Freight and Passenger Rail Committee, a state-level advocacy group for the larger rail industry: Freight and Passenger Rail, Rail industry suppliers and support organizations.
Federal Legislative Priorities for 2016:
1. Support Full Funding of the Passenger Rail Portion of the FAST Act. This bill, already passed by Congress and signed by the President, will sustain the national passenger rail system at current levels, while instituting changes that should streamline approval processes for new and expanded services. However, the Legislation does not identify sources of funding for the program in the latter years of the authorization. Funding sources must be identified and “locked-in” so that both Amtrak and the states like Wisconsin who support passenger rail operations, have an assured source of funding for these vital services going forward. Care must also be taken to ensure that all regions of the country, and specifically the Midwest, share in the benefits of this act to address their needs and plans for expanded and improved passenger rail service.
2. Support Midwest Regional Rail Planning and Service Expansion. The Federal Railroad Administration planning grant announced last year must re-invigorate the development of the multi-state Midwest Regional Rail System; designed to tie-together major population centers in this region just as the Northeast Corridor does along the east coast. This is vital to grow the regional economy and meet the travel needs of a new generation of young professionals who demand modern, reliable and convenient alternatives to auto travel. While progress has been made in some areas, and services like the Hiawatha between Milwaukee and Chicago have proven the value of the concept and its ability to attract riders; long term funding for infrastructure improvement, station and equipment replacement and upgrades, and operating support to build-out the system as designed must be available to make this vision a reality. Examples include:
- Addition of the “Second Train” on the Chicago – Milwaukee – Twin Cities route to meet demand for additional service and to increase convenience, reliability and usefulness of rail service between these two major metropolitan areas and through Wisconsin. With the initial work complete, this study must be pushed forward and funding for the technical, operational, and support of this service must be identified and locked in so that it can be brought on-line promptly.
- Move ahead with environmental assessment of expanded Chicago-Milwaukee “Hiawatha” service; allowing additional frequencies on the heavily travelled and extremely productive corridor service.
- Adequately fund Amtrak equipment replacement to begin system-wide motive power and rolling stock replacement of equipment that has reached the end of its useful life and is now in some cases older than the “hand me downs” Amtrak received from private railroads at its inception. This is vital to the continued expansion of Midwest regional rail services as well as the viability of the long distance trains which tie the Midwest to the rest of the nation.
- Complete the plan and implement service connections to other Midwest metropolitan areas not currently served by passenger rail, and specifically those such as Eau Claire, the Fox Cities, Green Bay and Madison in Wisconsin.
- Ensure adequate funding for Amtrak’s share of host railroad infrastructure improvement costs, including Positive Train Control, capacity enhancements, bridge and grade-crossing improvements to reduce bottlenecks and permit free flow of passenger and vital freight rail traffic to the benefit of all.
3. Support Action by the Surface Transportation Board to Clarify and Enforce Priority Treatment for Passenger Trains on Host Railroads as Required by the Legislation that Established Amtrak. In order to provide and maintain reliable, predictable and punctual service that customers on intercity passenger trains can rely-on to reach their destinations in timely fashion, on-time performance standards that require priority handling of passenger trains by host railroads must be articulated, maintained and when necessary, enforced. While making allowances for events beyond the control of the host railroad, these clearly understood and uniformly enforced standards are necessary to ensure the reliability, viability and credibility of Amtrak services. On-time performance is a historical “given” in the transportation industry. Experience has shown that where Amtrak services are not reliable and timely, ridership drops; and with that public support for the service.
4. Support a Long-Term “Fix” to Provide a Stable Base for Surface Transportation Funding; Adequately Supporting Maintenance and Expansion of Program Funding for Intercity Bus, Public Transit, Elderly/Disabled Transit and Pedestrian/Bicycle Programs as well as Passenger Rail: Adequate, sustainable funding for surface transportation programs going forward is absolutely essential to ensure the safety, modernization and viability of the overall system now and in the future. Patched-together funding from one-time allocations of funds from non-traditional sources must be replaced by a dedicated, adequately funded on-going source that can be planned-for and relied-upon to support future growth. All Aboard Wisconsin recognizes that mobility and accessibility for all citizens, even those without access to a personal vehicle, those who cannot drive, or those who choose not-to is a basic right. All Aboard Wisconsin supports public transportation services in all of their forms, whether in cities, small towns, rural areas or connecting communities and regions as essential to maintaining and growing our economic vitality and the quality of life for our citizens.
State Legislative Priorities:
1. Maintain Passenger Rail Bonding Program with Incremental Increases to Ensure Program Viability: The state funding for the on-going passenger rail services provided by the Hiawatha service and future expansions of that service must be supported at a level that ensures the projected expansion of the service, as well as timely and forward-looking replacement of rolling-stock, locomotives and other equipment. To fail to do so constrains the state’s ability to improve existing services, such as needed equipment replacements for the Hiawatha Service, and station improvements along existing and future passenger rail corridors.
2. Provide Adequate Funding and Oversight to Enhance Rail Safety at Grade Crossings and Along All Rights of Way: Public safety along rail corridors and particularly at rail-road grade crossings needs to be enforced by adequate funding for crossing improvements, robust public education programs, and strict enforcement of anti-trespassing regulations on railroad property.
3. Support Continued Funding for Milwaukee Intermodal Station Operations and Maintenance: The improvements to this facility as the result of the current renovation must be preserved by adequate operating and maintenance funds going forward. However, the deposit of sponsorship fees for advertising placed at the Intermodal Station into the Transportation Fund needs further scrutiny. These fees have been considered operating revenue to the facility in question, reducing the need for state support by the amount of revenue received.
4. Support Continued Bonding for Freight Rail Preservation, at Historic $ 52 Million Level: The freight rail preservation funding provides a vital source of funding to acquire and improve abandoned freight rail lines and to improve those and existing state-owned freight rail corridors; providing an important economic resource for business and job growth as the result of access to high-quality freight rail service. Preservation of these corridors and high-quality infrastructure also makes possible future passenger/commuter rail service.
5. Support Maintenance of Programs and Increase of Funding for Intercity Bus, Public Transit, Elderly/Disabled Transit and Pedestrian/Bicycle Programs: The State has long recognized that mobility and accessibility for all citizens, even those without access to a personal vehicle, those who cannot drive, or those who choose not to is a basic right. All Aboard Wisconsin supports public transportation services in all of their forms, whether in cities, small towns, rural areas or connecting communities and regions of the state as essential to maintaining and growing the economic vitality for the state, and the quality of life for its citizens.
All Aboard Wisconsin is a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) educational organization.
For More Information:
Nona G. Hill-President: firstname.lastname@example.org; 608-354-6425
Mark Quam-Vice President: email@example.com; 715-579-0602
Gary Goyke-Legislative Director: firstname.lastname@example.org; 608-291-5237