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Somebody Finally Gets It

Whether through coincidence or because their aides have read this crackplog, Lee Leffingwell and Brewster McCracken have stood up and finally asked the $100,000 question about Rapid Bus, namely, "why are we spending all this money for something that's not likely to be any better than the #101 bus and won't generate any transit-oriented development", and what's more, they're apparently doing it from a pro-rail perspective. A rare bit of good news.

My fear is, though, that it's already too late. Where were you guys in 2004 when I was saying this stuff? Frankly, I don't think we can get light rail down this corridor once commuter rail is built -- as I've commented before, it would be nigh-impossible to continue the light rail route northwest on the existing right-of-way from the intersection of Lamar and Airport (since commuter rail will already be there, and the vehicles are mostly incompatible), but if you don't, you give up about half of the ridership which would have made the 2000 route a success.

(I originally misattributed Lee Leffingwell as Lee Walker; I apologize for taking so long to realize this and correct it).

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Don't Hurt Us Mr. Krusee, We'll Do Whatever You Want , I Told You So , Rapid Bus Ain't Rapid , Republicans Hate Poor People , Republicans Hate Public Transportation , Republicans Hate The Environment , Texas Republicans Hate Cities , Transit in Austin , Transportation , Urban Design


Interesting. Even though Rapid Bus would actually improve my commute (I think), much/most of that comes from fewer stops and more frequent service. I won't shed any tears if this is shelved...

Are you willing to retract your statement from your 9/29/05 post saying "You don't get TOD with commuter rail", since you can see very large TOD development occuring today in Leander and the 620/183 area?

What's happening in Leander? I know they have a good long term plan, I wasn't aware of anything actually being built yet.

(Genuine question, not an argumentative one...)

No; what's happening in Leander isn't TOD by any stretch of the imagination; it's low-density crap. I know they're calling it TOD, but it isn't.

Here's a good primer on TOD; which may help to dispel the baloney around the Leander development:


The primary skepticism for me is on two fronts: 1) what Leander has proposed isn't TOD by even a fairly loose reading of these standards (it's density which the city of Austin would have allowed without a rail station, for instance); and 2) a dozen or more plans like this in South Florida died on the vine between proposal and actual finish-out.

You only get true TOD (very high-density, transit-first car-second development) when you have high-quality transit service.

I should say that calling the TOD "low-density crap" was hyperbolic. The pictures of what they WANT to build are actually decent, for instance:


I just doubt very much whether anything like that will end up on the ground; and the parts that ARE likely to be built are big-box retail centers and the like.

This I think is a step in the right direction. Too bad Ben Wear can't get another source aside from Lippencot, Skaggs or Daugherty. Also, they are disseminating lies AGAIN. The redistribution of tax base is from suburban to urban creating a situation where the city has to pay less for infrastructure, services as well as road upkeep in terms of TOD. In Arlington County the Metrorail corridor is on 7% of the land but pays for 32% of the taxbase. Arlington County also has the lowest tax rate in virginia...hmmm...so Skaggs is advocating for higher taxes.

It also reduces gasoline consumption through vehicle miles traveled. A portland study showed that daily household VMT was 9 miles per day in mixed use districts with good transit access versus 22 miles per day in suburban areas without transit.

We are starting to get a hold of how to quantify this so that Skaggs and company will get egg on thier face for promoting global warming through the use of fossil fuels.

I think this argument against the anti-railistas needs to be reframed so that we make them look aweful for not supporting fixed guideway rail. We need to somehow Karl Rove them.

I think we should start coming up with good catch phrases and slogans that will trump the coming costs too much does too little if this light rail movement holds true. I hope it does....


Hasn't Cap Metro already signed contracts for the commuter rail cars?


Yup, they have.

Then it's too late no matter what McCracken and Leffingwell do. We're screwed.

Too late to replace commuter rail, yes, but maybe not too late to replace the Lamar/Guadalupe/Congress/SoCo rapid bus with dedicated lane rail. Though you'd still need a transfer from the burbs at Crestview station, and as M1ek says it's problematic to go further north there. Not holding my breath though...


There's a ton of problems with the "just run light rail up Lamar/Guadalupe" pipe dream - it requires that the Airport/Lamar intersection be shut down for unacceptably high amounts of time, for one thing. (Either the '00 rail plan or the '04 rail plan would just be slicing across in one direction; but rail crossing or even branching here requires a whole lot more stoppage of vehicles than that).