With gas prices on the rise and new policies and ideas on the table, it's time to look at how we get around. We all need to get someplace and we use many different modes of transportation to do so. As we kick off 2011 at OnMilwaukee.com, we're taking an in-depth look at how we get around with a special "Transportation Week," featuring all kinds of stories about how Milwaukee gets where it's going. So, buckle up, hop on and all aboard.
Supporters of the proposed high-speed rail line connecting Milwaukee to Madison were furious when the federal government decided to yank the majority of the $810 million in funds originally promised to Wisconsin after Scott Walker was elected governor in the fall election.
Perhaps Walker, who called the loss of funding a victory against excessive government spending, is more of a Segway guy.
With all that high-speed rail money going to California and other states, you had better familiarize yourself with the many other ways to make the 80-mile trek to the state capital.
Whether you want to ride in style in a stretch limo, use some pedal power with a rented bicycle, throw on some inline skates, or split the cost of a hog with the new governor and hold on tight, OnMilwaukee.com is here to break down what it's going to take to get to Madison.
There is no and now won't be -- for a while at least -- any direct rail service to Madison from Milwaukee. However, there is a way to kind of get to Madison via train. Of course, both are kind of a pain. If you have $51 you can walk into into the Amtrak station in Downtown Milwaukee and 7.5 hours later you'll get dropped off in Madison. Right now the only way to get from Milwaukee to Madison via Amtrak involves hopping the Hiawatha line to Chicago and then taking a shuttle bus to Madison. You can take the Empire Builder line from Milwaukee to the Columbus station, which will cost you $24 but leave you stranded about 30 miles from the capital with no connecting form of transportation;unless of course you know a guy in Madison who can stop playing ultimate Frisbee long enough to come pick you up.
Using Expedia a day in advance to book a flight, the cheapest fare offered was a direct flight from Milwaukee to Madison on Frontier Airlines which came to $97.20 with taxes and fees included. The duration of the flight is 32 minutes, which doesn't include the time it takes to be eye sexed by the TSA screener running the X-ray. The $5 Twix bar at Hudson News is also not included in the ticket price.
Badger Coaches has had the market cornered on affordable travel between Milwaukee and Madison for a long time. Badger offers several daily trips to and from Madison, with tickets starting at $17.50. Travel time is estimated at one hour and 50 minutes with a couple stops along the way. A bus may not be as romantic a mode of travel as a train, but it does the job.
If you refuse to get stuck next to that weird guy mumbling his hit-list under his breath, the flat meter rate for a taxi cab from Yellow Cab Cooperative is $2.50 per mile. That brings the cost of the trip to roughly $200 each way. A dispatcher said individual cab drivers might be able to work a deal out for less, but you'd have to haggle at the time of pickup. Google Maps estimates travel time to Madison in a car to be about 1 hour and 34 minutes.
If yellow isn't really your color Chaffee Limousine service quoted the cost of being driven in a sedan at $145 plus tax and tip, or $165 plus tax and a mandatory 20 percent tip you can be driven in a six passenger limo. Again that's a one-way rate and doesn't include the minibar or a Russian prostitute.
Walker made a habit of taking an annual motorcycle ride around the state to promote Milwaukee tourism while serving as county executive. If you are bad to the bone like him one way to prove it is by making your trip to Madison on a rented Harley-Davidson motorcycle. A 24-hour rental through the company's Eagle Rider program is $165.27 for the Big Twin model and $114 for the smaller model Sportster.
If you take this route, then like Walker, you're a rebel. You don't need any stinking federal handouts and by golly you don't need a traditional means of motorized transportation to get to Madison.
You can rent a bicycle from Ben's Cycle for about $30 a day for a hybrid commuter bike or a lower end road bike, or $95 a day for a nicer road bike. Mileage is unlimited, but it will probably take you a while to get there and you will probably smell worse than that UW freshman who showered in patchouli oil this morning when you do.
The Milwaukee Bike and Skate Rental stand located in Lakefront Park is closed for the winter, and probably wouldn't approve of you taking their property off the premises. But if you have lots of money and not a lot of respect for their rules they offer several unique transportation options. For just $6 an hour you can inline skate your way to Madison. Of course this will likely take at least an entire day each way and longer if you skate backwards trying to impress every pretty girl who drives by. The recumbent turbo tricycle will cost you $10 an hour, but unlike inline skates will not get you beat up by skateboarders.
Speaking of skateboards, a complete skateboard set up goes for $145 at Sky High Skate Shop in Bay View. Owner Aaron Polanski cautioned against making the trip, recalling that a group of his friends once tried skateboarding to Madison and only made it halfway before being forced to take refuge for the night on an elementary school roof where they were arrested the next morning.
With no cliffs between here and Madison, perhaps the Segway is an attractive option. Unfortunately they only travel 12.5 miles per hour and have to be re-charged every 24 miles, so maybe not the best mode of long distance transportation. Segway of Wisconsin offers rentals and tours. A 135-minute tour of Veterans Park goes for $79.99, so a trek to Madison is likely to get a little pricey.
If you were planning on getting one of the jobs building and servicing the high-speed rail would have created, you may have enough time on your hands now to make walking or running to Madison an option. Google maps estimates the trip would only take a little over a day in each direction. Leaving you five days that week to mail job applications to California.