Don't Let The Door Hit You, Fred
One thing left out of many of the accounts of yesterday's fun time is that Capital Metro actually called the cops on the media before eventually relenting and allowing them to stay. Thanks to tweeting reporters Reagan Hackleman and Matt Flener for carrying the torch. Also, Lee Nichols' blog post yesterday had the most details early-on; nobody else mentioned Watson's implied pressure or got Jay Wyatt's attention, both kind of important.
And now, on to some of Fred's greatest hits, compiled from the crackplog, to back up the thesis that he, after Krusee himself, is the one most responsible for Austin not having, and maybe never having, urban rail; all tweeted yesterday as well.
October 27, 2004, his own words (click on link for my words):
What Capital Metro does not intend to do, at least in the foreseeable future, is have lanes of city streets dedicated solely to bus traffic. When that occurs, the system is called "bus rapid transit." Lacking those lanes, Capital Metro calls its proposal rapid bus. But Gilliam made it clear he'd like to reverse those two words in the long run.
"My hope is that . . . eventually we will get to bus lanes," Gilliam said. "But
our plan is not designed around having to have them."
From November 1, 2004; click on link for much more:
The fact that the ROAD guys aren't fighting this very hard should tell you all you need to know about their feeling on the matter. But if you don't believe THAT, consider the fact that this plan comes from Mike Krusee, no friend of Austin and definitely no friend of public transportation. He and Fred Gilliam have come up with the cheapest possible way to show once and for all that rail "doesn't work in Austin" - at which point I'm sure their common cause evaporates as Krusee seeks road funds and Gilliam seeks bus rapid transit. Either way, central Austin in particular gets nothing but the back of the hand.
There is no way I can see in which urban rail can be salvaged if this election passes. David is parroting the dubious party line that this commuter rail line can be turned into "light rail" by running the trains more often and through TOD - ignoring the fact that TOD won't occur if nobody is riding the line when it opens (real estate developers will shy away from such development if the line looks like a failure AS HAPPENED IN SOUTH FLORIDA). And NOBODY has explained how Austin is going to be SO DIFFERENT from South Florida that the shuttle-bus liability won't be a huge problem here for building choice commuter ridership. High-frequency shuttle buses waiting for you when you get off the train? Check. Speedy rail portion of commute? Check. Cheap because they used existing track? Check. Now planning on shifting emphasis over the next decade to a much better rail corridor after 15 wasted years? One down, one to go.
That main road is Guadalupe and is going to get plowed up anyways. There's not a lot of difference between repaving a street and repaving plus laying some tracks. And honestly, 37,000 riders is much better than 2,000.
$120 million to $736 million. 1/7 ratio for cost versus a 1/18 ratio on ridership doesn't quite add up does it.
And it would have been done with Karen Rae who is now second in command at the FRA instead of Fred Gillam who seems to be at the center of all this mess.
Summary: The guy never wanted to do rail in the first place. Whether or not he eventually came around to support the idea of commuter rail, his original idea was the same as Gerald Daugherty - allow a crappy rail line to be built and fail so he could stop getting bothered about light rail. Mission Accomplished!