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Red Line Debacle Pushes Urban Rail Further Into Hazy Future

2012 now. At the earliest. And don't be fooled; this is a direct result of the abyssmal ridership on the Red Line, demonstrated in April as it fell off a cliff even while the bloom was supposed to still be on the rose.

I was actually not going to bother with a blog post on this since this is so demoralizing and I'm pretty damn busy with my real life and (NON-POLITICAL) real job, but two of my facebook 'friends' insist that it's unbecoming to demand that those who have attacked and belittled for all these years sack up and admit they were wrong. I don't take direction well.

From this post in 2004:

The danger here is that a starter line that is bad ENOUGH will completely destroy the momentum among the public (that actually WANTS rail right now by at least a slim margin, in Austin itself). This is what happened in South Florida with a system which is identical in every way that matters to the one proposed by Capital Metro.

From another 2004 post:

The second message, and the one I'll talk about today, is the idea that we can get light rail in the urban core "later" if we approve this plan now. The genius of this message is that it does a fairly good job of lumping opponents like me in with kooky pie-in-the-sky non-pragmatists who are unwilling to get something running on the ground because of the pursuit of the perfect solution.

The problem is that this message is misleading at best, and a lie at worst. The reason to oppose this plan is because it's deadly to future transit operations in this city. IE, not just because it doesn't do enough right away, but because it will actively prevent more effective solutions from ever happening.

Hey, decision-makers? How about we stop listening to the guys who were wrong, and start talking again to the guy who was right? You have my email address; some of you even wrote back once or twice.

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Demoralizing indeed. So given another 2 years of low, low ridership on the red line, and who knows how many Cap Met scandals between now and 2012, is there any reason to think the voters will approve a new rail line then as opposed to now?

With a weak recovery, uncertain tax revenue and the like we are backwards. Should have started out with an excellent light rail plan and then could have sold expansion to the voters in the down times.

Gotta agree. Hard to even see light rail in Austin's future at this point. The question is what is the CapMetro board gonna do after they have some real data on MetroRail's performance?

It will be interesting to see what the CEO wants to do.

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