Streetcar Desire

By: Justin Ware Email
By: Justin Ware Email

For Madison bartender Mark Wallin, happy hour would be a whole lot happier, if he could take a street car to work.

"When you get people out of there cars, especially with gas prices being what they are today, and encourage people to get on whatever sort of mass transit," said Wallin, "I think it would be fantastic."

One of the routes from Wallin's downtown bar would no doubt pass very close by Memorial Union on the UW campus.

And that's where you'll find two more potential street car riders.

"I think it would be really fun," said Hannah Nilles, UW student and Union employee, "especially at night, going out to dinner and things like that."

Nilles and Casey Wachniek, another student employee, don't have cars.

And with all the recent violence around campus, they would love another mass transit option.

"I think especially with the safety issues on campus," said Wachniek, "It would definitely be something more people would take advantage of."

It makes sense that three people who live close to likely street car routes and who don't use cars very often would support a street car system.

But neither of those things are true of Jon Tondryk.

"I wouldn't be inclined to use it at all," said Tondryk.

Tondryk drives to work in downtown Madison from Stoughton and says he's worried street cars would only add to his headache.

"It would create more congestion for drivers," said Tondryk, "because of the extra lane it would use up."

Gerry Hovland works at a traditional car dealership on East Washington and doesn't want to see the road in front of her business torn up for street cars.

"And the streets look so nice, they just finished them after all these years," said Hovland, "they were bumpy and everything and they'll be bumpy with tracks."

Hearing all these viewpoints and anything else Madison residents have to say is exactly why city leaders held this meeting Thursday night at the Monona Terrace.

Examples of the street cars were on display, along with possible routes.

And Madison's leaders say they want to know what people think.

"We want to have a good discussion with the community and the neighbors," said David Trowbridge, streat car study project manager. "We want to get an idea of what people think. Do they think this is a good idea, how could this help their community? And where are the best streets to run a street car system?"

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