The pro-commuter-rail covering fire gets closer

Comments Off on The pro-commuter-rail covering fire gets closer

I just had to write a response to a note written by former light-rail advocate Lyndon Henry in the Yahoo Group “LightRail_Now” in which I was mentioned in a patronizing and dismissing fashion. I’ve stored it here as well to guard against the possibility that the posting will not make it through the moderation process.

Here it is:

— In, Nawdry wrote:
> One LRT proponent (a bicycle activist) has emerged as an opponent of the
> regional rail proposal.
Lyndon, I’m disappointed that you would do this.
He’s referring to me, folks. What Lyndon left out is that I’m a member of the Urban Transportation Commission in Austin; and a frequent user of transit. Our commission, by the way, was so underwhelmed with this proposal by Capital Metro that we unanimously voted to ask the City Council’s members to force them to hold a referendum at the same time on alternative and additive plan elements (two or three additional or improved rail services of various types).
My opposition to this plan is not based on Neanderthal-thinking like that put forward by the Jim Skaggs’ of the world (rail transit bad; highwas good) but rather based on the fact that no urban area in this country has succeeded with a starter rail line which required nearly every passenger to transfer to shuttle buses at the work end of the journey. In other words, I WANT rail, but I want rail that people will actually ride (which the 2000 LRT proposal would have been) so that public perception of the system will be positive (see Dallas, Portland) rather than negative (see South Florida, Buffalo).
And the lack of other opposition to this plan is based firmly in the theory (obviously one with which I disagree) that once we pass this very very bad starter line, that we can go back and “fix it” later but that if it doesn’t pass, that we’re out of attempts (obviously untrue since the 2000 loss didn’t prevent a different plan being floated this year). I’ve expounded on many of the reasons why that’s fundamentally untrue in my blog ( if anybody’s interested.
Lyndon, please don’t descend to the level of the Jim Skaggs’ of the world. I have a lot more in common with you than I do with them; and I’d like to continue to respect you more than I do them.
Mike Dahmus
Urban Transportation Commission