With three airlines announcing expanded flights to Milwaukee in just two days last week, it is clear that “outsiders” see major growth potential in our M7 and northern Chicago region. It’s a shame that many residents and lawmakers in our region do not share the same enthusiasm about growth in the future.
AirTran Airlines recently announced the launch of new routes from Milwaukee, Southwest Airlines just announced that it will begin flying out of Mitchell International by the end of the year and Midwest announced that it will be adding more routes in late summer.
Southwest Airlines currently uses Midway Airport in Chicago. By deciding to use Milwaukee, Southwest is looking not only to serve southeastern Wisconsin, but to better serve northern Chicago. This is one more example to add to the list of reasons to substantially better connect the Milwaukee region with Chicago.
Looking to growth in the future, Chicago residents could conveniently take the Metra train, which then would become the Kenosha-Milwaukee-Racine (KRM) commuter rail, and ride the rail straight to a “fast lane bus” that goes right into our airport. Or they could take Amtrak to the Airport Station and hop on a shuttle right into GMIA. Better yet, when they come to Milwaukee, they could grab a meal at a local restaurant or spend the night in a hotel, further feeding our economy. Oh, they would also be paying sales taxes here.
When Chicago residents travel to Milwaukee to catch one of many new flights being added at General Mitchell, they will bring with them their need for entertainment, dining and lodging. In light of these recent developments, our regional economy can’t afford to pass up such opportunities that can occur if we have better transit connections to Chicago. This combination of buses, trains and shuttles can best occur with a regional transit authority.
Tom Rave is the executive director of The Gateway to Milwaukee.