Check out me on KUT yesterday about the intersection problems along Airport and notice that I’m not alone in failing to buy Capital Metro’s BS about it just being a simple education problem. Good job, Mose, getting some key points across from a variety of interviewees.
While searching for something else, I stumbled on this old Chronicle article with this money quote, which backs up what I was saying for a long time about the failure of Capital Metro to seek federal funds despite it being promised in the run-up to the 2004 commuter rail election:
The prevailing wisdom has been that a project in Smart-Grown Austin, serving major trip generators like UT and the Capitol complex, supported by Cap Met’s ample sales tax revenue, would be a slam dunk for a “highly recommended” rating. (Conversely, the original Red Line, which had far lower ridership and — even though it was on existing rail right of way — only marginally lower projected costs, was headed, Cap Met insiders say, for a “not recommended” kiss-of-death rating, which is why the transit authority switched tracks at the 11th hour.)
Note, though, that this was back when they’d be talking about running new track in the Red Line corridor – not reusing the existing freight rail track (which, as it turns out, hasn’t been as cheap or easy as advertised). The important point, though, is that the Feds (and Capital Metro) acknowledged that even with brand-new double-track, ridership on the Red Line as delivered today would never even approach the levels at which the FTA would have considered good enough to help pay for. And this wasn’t the Bush FTA that hated rail – this was the Clinton FTA which paid for good light rail starts all over the country (although even Bush’s FTA funded a couple, like Seattle’s).
As per yesterday’s crackplog, note that Capital Metro is still out there seeking funding, both federal and local, to double (or even triple) track the Red Line despite the fact that it won’t make much difference for ridership – because as the Feds knew and CM used to admit, it doesn’t go anywhere worth going and never will.