Dear Editor: A recent letter suggested that the advantages of placing Madison’s Amtrak station at the airport were “blatantly obvious and overwhelming,” but I have to disagree.
The great advantage of rail travel is that it can provide a city center-to-center connection. When you travel to Milwaukee, Chicago or St. Paul, the train takes you right into the heart of downtown. Many of the main attractions are in walking distance of the station and you arrive right near hubs of regional transit.
Our airport has none of those advantages. It’s relatively far from downtown and campus, it’s not in reasonable walking or biking distance to anything, and it’s on an isolated branch of the bus network.
About the only advantage is that it has some parking for suburban folks, but dumping visitors into a remote parking lot isn’t exactly a grand entrance to a city. Frankly I would be embarrassed to say to visitors arriving from the splendor of Chicago's or St. Paul's Union Stations: “Welcome to the Dane County Airport parking lot, enjoy your 40-minute bus ride to downtown.”
A supplementary station at the airport — similar to Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport stop — might not be a bad idea, but it would be a tremendous mistake to make the airport the main rail gateway to our city.