This presentation incorporates some responses to people (including myself) who have yet to swallow the "building commuter rail for people who don't pay into Capital Metro while giving the center city a rapid bus line" plan.
The most egregious is on this page, where Cap Metro makes this claim:
"Could serve central city passengers, as well as suburban passengers in our northwest service area"
WRONG. No "central city passengers" will live anywhere near a station proposed for the initial route of this line, by the accepted definition of "central city". Airport Blvd. is not "central city". Hyde Park is "central city". Rosedale and North University and West Campus are "central city". Only somebody living out in Round Rock would look at the 1960s era neighborhoods of Crestview that the line slices through and consider it "central city".
This line does not go anywhere near the densest residential parts of Austin, unlike the 2000 light rail route. Nobody living along Lamar or Guadalupe is going to hop a bus to go north to the commuter rail station (if one is built anywhere between Mopac and I-35) only to ride the commuter rail back downtown only to hop a shuttle bus to their ultimate destination.
And then, they make this claim:
"Over time, more stations and service in urban areas"
MISLEADING. This rail line isn't going anywhere it doesn't currently go. Yes, Capital Metro could knock down a bunch of businesses and homes to build more stations in the 'central city' by their generous definition, but even then, not enough residential density exists near those stations to make them feasible.
Took my stepson to camp at UT this morning (on our bikes); he thinks he left his helmet there last Monday (the last time we rode our bikes there). While I make him wear his helmet normally (it's the law here), I wasn't willing to give up the only chance to ride this week (due to scheduling conflicts) just because we couldn't find it at home this morning.
Coincidentally, today I saw this from England, which was considering a mandatory helmet law for children.
Note from 2005: That link no longer works, but I found an excerpt from the document and include it here now for reference.
EDM 764 * * * CYCLE HELMETS * *03.03.04 Griffiths/Jane That this House notes the substantial disparity between claims made for the efficacy of pedal cycle helmets and their measured effect in real populations; notes that the Transport Research Laboratory has reported the promotion of pedal cycle helmets may lead to increased injury rates; notes that cyclist injury rates remain unchanged following passage of mandatory helmet legislation in several countries; and calls on the Department of Transport to initiate a programme of research designed to establish why increases in helmet wearing rates are not associated with reductions in head injury rates, and why the countries with the lowest helmet wearing rates are those with the lowest cyclist injury rates
Of course, the New York Times covered the fact that helmets don't seem to be doing anything in the general population, but peoples' anectdotes about cracked helmets that surely saved their lives continue to win the battle on this side of the pond. Even the Times swallowed a load of credulity by blaming the inefficacy of helmets on everything possible except the chance that a tiny piece of plastic might not be living up to its Herculean billing.
I had a good lunch with Dave Dobbs about two weeks ago. Dave's a stand-up guy who is really working hard to get more mass transit on the ground in Texas cities, including Austin. So, any disagreements exposed in this article are honest ones; both Dave and I want more mass transit, not less. In fact, we both want more rail transit, too.
One of the things being floated in the face of center-city opposition to Cap Metro's new long-range plan is the idea that commuter rail is practically the same thing as light rail, except cheaper, so why would any of you light-rail guys oppose it anyways. Dave, in particular, was exasperated by my insistence in calling this plan "commuter rail" and comparing it to other commuter rail lines, such as Tri-Rail's disaster in South Florida. Let's analyze the things that were good about light rail, and see if that holds up:
The primary positive aspects of the 2000 light rail proposal, in my opinion, are (were):
Evaluating the commuter rail proposal on the same metrics, we have:
Some might argue that Cap Metro's map shows this line going to Seaholm, and that a station at 4th and Congress is likely. I disagree:
Unfortunately, instead of opposing the plan on its (lack of) merits, most of the center-city people are wasting their time pushing for a quicker path to Seaholm (again, on the questionable principle that they can get a station on Congress by doing so). They then make this extraordinary claim:
"A rail line through the middle of downtown would allow a high
frequency circulator to quickly and efficiently carry commuters north,
to the Capitol complex and the University of Texas, and south, to the
South Congress District."
We have that high-frequency circulator already. It's called the Dillo, and nobody who has free or cheap parking ever uses it, because it's dog-slow, because it's stuck in the same traffic as your car would be.
(the bravest man I've seen in my lifetime, presumed dead).
We shouldn't have opened our trade relationship with these bastards, and they arguably aren't any better now than they were then, putting the lie to the theory that trade inevitably leads to freedom. Much of the Chinese goods sold at places like Wal-Mart is produced by prison labor, not middle-class factory workers.
Kevin Drum points out that the media continues to ignore the fact that the Saudis are the only major producer with unused short-term oil pumping capacity. This is the other piece of the story which bugged me for a long time - two years ago, when it was clear that these asswipes were behind a big chunk of the 9/11 attacks, it seems like the mass media in this country bent over backwards to ignore the fact that we were afraid to confront them for it - and the biggest reason for that fear? The Saudis have the only reliable control over world oil prices.
So in every article I've read so far on the shootings in the residential complex over the weekend, the mention of higher oil prices is always tempered by comments that the oil infrastructure is well-protected. (example).
Why is it that none of these journalists have the balls to say why these attacks are bad? The fact is that the Saudis can't run their own oil industry. They rely on foreigners (Westerners) for nearly all of the human capital involved - and the Americans and British have advised all their citizens to leave the country.
It just amazes me how pansy our press has become. This is a huge deal; and yet they're focusing on the infrastructure instead of the workers.
Oh, and I just filled up the Civic. 36 mpg on last tank. Had to wait 15 minutes in hot sun at Costco behind megaSUVs. We also filled up the Prius this weekend - averaging upper 40s so far. (It was our fourth fillup since we bought the car in late February).