Why The Bile

From this thread full of optimistic talk from happy-fun-land about how We Can Still Make This Thing Work, ailment I attempt to crush the dreams and hopes of the new generation by writing the following.
The solution is to keep reminding people that there is such a thing as “bad rail”, apoplexy and this thing is it. Seriously, treat there’s no way to re-route it now; they’ve chosen a technology which is effectively incompatible with running down Lamar/Guadalupe/Congress in the 2000 alignment. (And, by the way, it’s also somewhat incompatible with street-running even across town on 4th street, due to vehicle height, unless you don’t want any stations between the Convention Center and Seaholm). IE, even if Capital Metro turns over the agency to me at this point, the only solution is to completely stop working on the commuter rail line and completely change gears to the original light rail route; there’s no way to extend commuter rail where it actually needs to go which is remotely feasible economically, politically, or even technologically.
The reason I keep harping on this is that LONG BEFORE the election, when there was still a chance to persuade Capital Metro to change their mind (or force them to), people like you and the other naive cheerleaders here said “well, they’ll just build that thing and then we’ll get light rail in the urban core later”. The numerous technical, financial, and political reasons why that was never actually going to happen were viewed as just downer-talk from pessimist-land.
Switch gears to South Florida. Some people pointed out early on that requiring choice commuters to use shuttle buses wasn’t going to fly. They were ignored, in favor of the great spirit of optimism. Surely, they said, we can improve the line later on, if those negative nellies actually have a point. Two decades later, and hundreds of millions of dollars of irrelevant double-tracking later, people are finally beginning to get it: the line can’t be fixed; the fundamental problem is the location of the line itself; the only solution is to pick up and move to the FEC corridor (another existing rail line which runs right through all the major downtowns of the region).
Now, switch gears back to Austin. Same thing is about to happen. Not much chance of stopping them now, but at least all you cheerleaders ought to rejoin reality-land: Capital Metro is trying to convince you that Rapid Bus is really just as good as light rail would have been. Why do you think they’re doing that? Could it be that old crotchedy M1EK was actually right, and that holding our noses and supporting commuter rail doomed us? No, must be something else. Keep cheering, folks! Sooner or later, something good’s bound to happen!
And for those who think it couldn’t possibly be this bad – I refer you to yesterday’s post: there’s really only one question you need to ask Capital Metro.



9 thoughts on “Why The Bile

  1. I’ve always said, after visiting succesful rail/mass transit systems(London Underground, DC Metro) that Austin doesn’t want to do what is necessary to install successful commuter rail. That would mean right-of-way condemnations on a level that would never fly.

  2. That’s true, hence the 2000 light rail plan, which used the existing rail corridor where it needed to, and then ran down the middle of the street to get where it needed to go. Minimal condemnation required. Would have easily passed if any one of a number of tiny changes were made – in fact, it probably would have passed as it was if that asshat Krusee hadn’t forced Capital Metro to hold their election before they were even done with the proposal.

  3. I completely accept and agree with your assessment of the situation, but I understand why people are so resistent to the idea that the commuter rail plan and “All Systems Go” won’t work. People don’t like their dreams crushed. I know. I’ve repeatedly had to crush people’s hydrogen car dreams, and I’m always faced with question, “Well, what’s your solution?” Ultimately, the answer here is probably that there isn’t a solution, but damn, man…that’s hard to accept.

  4. Hey M1EK I posted a comment this morning on this topic that doesn’t seem to have made it into this section — was the message put on moderation somehow?

  5. I didn’t see any comments go moderated recently. I’ll check the logs, but it’s probably lost. Sorry.

  6. Scooter Pete,
    The fact that it’s letting through your notes about the comments being rejected clearly means your address/name aren’t the problem. Try fewer links, or avoiding some common spam terms. (I emailed you with a request for the exact message you’re seeing; and haven’t heard back).

  7. I wish the commuter rail had planned a station around where it crosses Anderson Lane.
    If Capital Metro can run reliable service on the commuter rail for about ten years, maybe some redevelopment would naturally occur along the route to increase the rail utilization.
    The Justin Lane and Highland Mall stations seem to be in locations that could support more office and retail.
    Last year I toured the Saltillo Plaza neighborhood on foot. It’s a rough looking area as far as physical appearances go but I sensed an underlying community in the old urbanist style with many good things to build on. I think the Saltillo area has a lot of potential for continued use as a residential neighborhood with some additional redevelopment for locally useful retail, restaurant, art/cultural and recreation. I thought Saltillo Plaza itself was terribly underutilized. I thought it would have been nice to have a little cafe nearby to get a refreshment.
    I didn’t find much detailed information about the rail plan on the Capital Metro site. I wonder if the commuter rail will provide a direct link between the Amtrak station and the Greyhound terminal. Austin is laid out in a clumsy fashion for intermodal transit. Amtrak is downtown, Greyhound is out by Highland Mall, the airport is southeast, and I don’t think there are good transit connections between them. Well, okay, maybe the #350 bus connects Greyhound and the airport, but that seems rather more accidental than intentional.

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