It’s been rumored for a long time, but further more credible signs are afoot that Capitol Metro is abandoning plans for in-town light-rail transit in favor of a bus rapid transit system.
I could not be more alarmed at the incredible stupidity of the board and other leadership at that agency.
- They’re supplying commuter rail to areas which are primarily not Capital Metro taxpayers at the urging of the same state legislator who forced Capital Metro to call a rail election before they were ready, which they then lost by an incredibly small margin (winning in the city of Austin proper), primarily due to an insufficiently baked plan.
- For the majority of residents of the city of Austin, they’re now going to continue to provide transit which is not reliable (sure, the bus can change a traffic light ahead of it to green; but cannot move gridlocked cars out of its way) and very slow.
Of course, the disingenuous jackanapes who pushed the anti-rail campaign in 2000 will be silent about the fact that BRT takes even MORE street space from cars, and provides even LESS benefit for the money.
Capital Metro is signing its own death warrant. But as I predicted back before the 2000 election (Patrick Goetz: you still owe me a steak dinner), the state is the ultimate power here, and the state hates public transportation.
And HOUSTON HAS LIGHT RAIL.
Truly, the apocalypse is nigh.
It’s ironic that this dilweed lives in Honolulu, with one of a very small number of really effective city-bus-only transit systems in the United States. This presumably gives him the temerity to claim that the investment in public transit in this country, dwarfed by spending on highways, is a “waste” when most of it has, at the urging of schmucks like him, gone to those same city bus systems which are completely ineffective at removing suburban commuters from their single-occupant vehicles in almost every other city in the country. Yes, they provide mobility to some poor people who can’t afford cars; and for a trivially small number of people who don’t have parking at their destinations.
But the only thing that works for choice commuters (outside the oddball cities like Honolulu where parking is expensive enough to make a real difference) is prioritized transit, that being separate right-of-way such as rail, or buses running in exclusive lanes. Unfortunately, people on both sides of this debate continue to buy into the canard that cities should be required to show improvements in stuck-in-traffic only-poor-schmucks-use-them city bus systems before investing in any kind of rapid transit, be it light rail, BRT, monorail, subway, or whatever else. The most disappointing thing are the transit advocates who buy into this nonsense; not realizing that the true goal of most of the people diverting rapid transit investment into city bus systems is to kill those transit systems entirely (much harder to convert a light rail line back to single-occupant motor vehicle use, after all).
We went through this in Austin; with many road warriors hiding behind the idea that we should force Capital Metro to “run the bus system better” before investing in rapid transit, ignoring the fact that by any objective means, they’re already running the bus system about as well as it could possibly be run. That meaning that a city bus system alone will never, ever, EVER pull an additional non-trivial number of automobile commuters out of their cars; since almost all of those people who could possibly be practically served by the bus are already riding it. Most UT employees for whom the cost of parking is an issue are already riding the various 183-corridor and I35-corridor express buses. Most state employees who don’t get free parking are already riding various other express buses and flyers. And most private-sector employees get parking for free; so why on earth would they want to ride an ‘express’ bus whose guarantee is that if run perfectly in the absolutely best possible route circumstance (their driveway is at the last bus stop before the freeway; their office is at the first stop after the freeway exit), it could be almost as fast as their automobile, since it’s stuck in the same traffic?
It doesn’t matter how slow the traffic on Mopac gets; the bus will never be competitive with the private automobile for most people. The only way to compete is therefore to provide prioritized routing for transit – meaning rail, or as a poor second choice, HOV lanes for buses.
Period. There’s nothing more Capital Metro can do; you could run a city bus every ten seconds on every major arterial in the suburbs and not attract one more person to ride it to their job since their car will be substantially faster and they don’t have to pay for parking.