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Sitting in a hotel room in ice-cold New Jersey on an awful business trip, and see this in a long thread of tweets:

Which of course led me to fire back in the middle of a long complaint about the other local urban rail advocates who have been content to use yours truly for arguments once in a while but, pretty much, let me sit out here like a human pinata for years now under attack by Capital Metro flacks, both employed and hangers-on. First sample from before I saw the tweet above:

And then after:

(leaving out the back/forth with the guys who think that if it wasn't for bad old me, Capital Metro would have built light rail by now, because, of course, making friends with them has worked so well so far for the other 99 out of 100 local rail advocates).

You wonder why the bile? Still? Really?

These guys are absolutely intent on making the same mistake other rail advocates made in 2004 - believing that Capital Metro is actually planning on doing more than just politely listening to them. Hint: The other 99, let's say, urban rail advocates in 2004 actually accomplished LESS than this guy 'sitting at his computer calling people idiots' - they were completely snookered by Capital Metro's flacks into thinking that light rail, from Capital Metro, was coming right after the election - which, of course, Capital Metro never had any intention of doing.

The only reason we're even TALKING about urban rail right now is because Will Wynn and Brewster McCracken decided back in 2008 that they were going to pursue light rail despite Capital Metro. The only reason Rapid Bus has taken this long to ruin Guadalupe for light rail is because back in 2006, Lee Leffingwell and Brewster McCracken were convinced, partially due to this very blog, that it was a waste of money. If only 1% of the reason that those city council members did what they did was because of what I wrote, then I still accomplished infinitely more than the rail advocates who stayed quiet or even cheerled the Red Line in 2004.

Because, frankly, the local rail advocates who played nice all that time accomplished precisely jack squat. The only time anything has EVER been accomplished with Capital Metro is when people with power over them either exercised it of their own accord (think Krusee in 2000 and then again in 2004) or were convinced to do so by others (2006, 2008 as above). Period. Holding hands and playing nice just plays right into their hands - Capital Metro wants voters to think, like they did back in 2004, that they have the best interests of the urban core at heart - when, in reality, all they care about is spending more money on the Red Line, which is functionally a screw-central-Austin-forever project for the benefit of the suburbs. Because they know right now, they still need to fear suburban-oriented state legislators, but that local politicians won't do anything to them.

But here's the important part: JMVC and the people like him gladhand for their JOB - and they have all day to do it. I get a few minutes a week between my private-sector job and my family. All I have is volume, and it's too easy to isolate me like he did above - and too many people fall for it. I'm losing, folks, and when I lose, Austin loses all hope at a good urban rail system, because Capital Metro has no more interest today in light rail than they did in 2004 - they just want to sucker a new generation of rail advocates into thinking they do so competition for their dollars will cease to be an issue.

That's why the bile. Any questions? (I have one: Why the fuck should I bother?)

This entry was posted in the following categories: 2008 Light Rail , Austin , Don't Hurt Us Mr. Krusee, We'll Do Whatever You Want , High Grade Bile , I Told You So , Transit in Austin , Transportation


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I read your blog. I care about real urban rail in Austin. I want to see a viable urban transit solution in our city.

As someone who knows nothing about the planning processes behind urban rail, it seems to me like the decision to press forward with streetcars in non-reserved guideway is a foregone conclusion. If we're already investing in environmental impact studies, it would seem that we have already decided on the mayor's plan. It's either street cars or nothing.

You "should bother" because the current plan is dog shit. Why would anyone ride a train that's going to be as slow or slower than a bus? And why would the city want to pay for a rail line that no one wants to ride? And why should the city's constituents be asked to consider a plan that reallocates Austin tax dollars to the suburbs in the form of commuter rail service?

But what else really can be done? Afterall, the wheels are in motion. And unfortunately, it seems like your usual rash of bile isn't going to change any minds that it hasn't already. Maybe it really is time to say "fuck it."

Ditto on most of Alex's comment.

What do private citizens like myself and other readers do to affect the process? Perhaps a post describing the process leading up to these projects is in order?

I am going to the Urban Rail meeting next Thursday at the Carver Library, and I went to an Urban Transportation Committee meeting a couple years ago about the Nueces Bike Boulevard. Pretty superficial stuff, so what is the next step to a deeper involvement?

What about converting the redline to regional transit, sending it out to the little cities along its line - all the way to Llano! Maybe have it stop at the Airport/Lamar station and bring back the 200 LRT plan in some form or fashion?

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