Regarding “Urban Rail: Which Way to Connect?
” [News, Dec. 13]: McCann and King tell us that "the Lamar/Guadalupe area will soon have MetroRapid, which was approved in 2010 as part of Capital Metro's ServicePlan2020." This is at best misleading; under the circumstances it's an egregious lie. The Lamar/Guadalupe rapid bus line was approved in 2004 as part of the same All Systems Go! Long-Range Transit Plan which included the Red Line rail proposal. At the time, Cap Metro promised to implement the rapid bus system first, prior to the Red Line. I was a longtime member of the Austin Urban Transportation Commission and questioned Cap Metro about the delayed deployment of the rapid bus system at every opportunity, from 2004 until mid-2008 when I left the commission. Why is this important? Because now Cap Metro is using the excuse of deployment of rapid bus in 2014 – an entire decade after they promised to do it – as the reason why the Lamar/Guadalupe corridor shouldn't be considered for a rail route. Had they implemented the rapid bus system when they promised, we would have been enjoying the benefits of rapid bus for almost a decade now, including commensurate densification of the corridor and commuter buy-in. That corridor would now be eminently ready for a high-speed, high-capacity, grade-separated rail system. Instead, they put the time and money into the nearly useless Red Line.
As it stands, Austin won't be ready for a real rail system for at least another decade. The proposal to build a low-capacity, at-grade rail line on the Highland corridor would be laughable if it weren't so potentially damaging to those Austinites who depend on public transportation. Every single time a passenger steps on the Red Line in Leander it costs Austin taxpayers $17.50. Another rail system like this would siphon funding away from the existing bus system, greatly impacting service for those who depend on this system the most.