"...Randal O'Toole is a very convincing fellow. Spend about half an hour listening to him – as a packed dining room of Austin's movers and shakers did last year at the Headliners Club – and you may come away convinced that rail-based mass transit is about as desirable for a city as an earthquake, and possibly more expensive..."
"...Wanna do something about the horrible traffic on the highways? Light rail ain't it. Wanna do something about our ever-dirtier air? Nope, light rail ain't that either..."
"...The bond package, based on the SMP, would (over its term) cost an estimated $1 billion, with $400 million for road improvements and $600 million for urban rail. The $600 million would cover a little less than half of Project Connect's $1.38 billion Central Corridor Urban Rail project (aka the "Locally Preferred Alternative")..."
"...On his mayoral web site, Mayor Lee Leffingwell just announced he's killing Austin voters' opportunity to approve bond funding for urban rail in November. Council was to vote on this next month; however, the mayor's announcement effectively closes that door..."
"...The question posed this week by the announcement of transportation bond projects – what does this mean for future bond packages on urban rail and a comprehensive bond election? – got an answer this afternoon: Lee Leffingwell is calling for a combined rail and comp bond vote in 2012...."
"...AGA (not yet a formal political action committee) has scheduled a launch party for Wednesday, April 16 at Mettle (507 Calles St.). While the group’s early statements promote general improvement of “all transportation options,” its logo and vision statement are rail-centric: “Transportation is inextricably tied to many other concerns in our city: affordability, economic development, efficient use of financial and natural resources - by failing to improve how we get around Austin we are failing to address a myriad of issues..."
"...But the heaviest burden of the speech was on transportation, and the mayor warned that if the city does not get more serious about building mass transit, “Our traffic crisis also undermines our efforts to keep Austin affordable." Saying, “We can’t just build off of our strengths, we also have to attack our weaknesses,” Leffingwell spoke at length about mass transit – particularly rail – and said that while we have done well to build and repair roadways over the last decade, in the end “building more roads to solve your traffic problem is like buying a longer belt to solve your weight problem.”..."
"...Should we be surprised at the news of a rail delay?..."
"...Laura Morrison says "Don't blame me for the push-back," Randi Shade says, "It'll be better in a year," and explains the bond fund scenario. All reactions from city council members to Mayor Lee Leffingwell's "No 2010 Rail Vote" announcement, more below...."
"...Mr. Skaggs’ comments [“You've Got Rail!,” News, March 26] concerning our new rail line only consider government financing of the Austin-Leander rail line..."
"...In a blog entry just posted on his mayoral web site, the mayor announced that he believes the plans for operations, management, and financing of an Austin urban rail system remain sufficiently in doubt to make a November public vote inadvisable...."
"...Can anyone really blame teachers for quitting? The pay sucks, and demanding work conditions have been exacerbated under No Child Left Behind, and amplified in Texas by the school accountability system. Take the storage contractor again: If he was having trouble affixing a rail to an old, knotty beam, would it make any sense to give him stripped-out screws and demand he get the shelves mounted twice as fast?..."
"...Rail Will Cost Too Much and Destroy Austin..."
"...Capitol Metro took the public for a ride on the RegioSprinter last wekk to drum up support for light-rail..."
"...Dear Editor, I support the commuter rail plan even though I voted against light rail in 2000. Here's why: Commuter rail isn't light rail..."
"...The most vehement and persistent opponents of Capital Metro's plans for a light-rail system -- such as the businesses along South Congress and the neighborhoods near the Eastside railyard -- argue that the A-Train is really a stealth fighter. Under the guise of bringing mobility, they fear, light rail will instead bring redevelopment that will gentrify them out of their homes and stores...."
"...On Nov. 7, Austin voters killed light rail..."
"...Projected Cost for First Three Light Rail Lines:..."
"...On Monday, Mayor Will Wynn shared with the Chronicle his plans to call for a major November 2008 voter referendum for a new local rail transit system – a call-to-action to be issued Thursday at his keynote State of Downtown Address at the Downtown Austin Alliance annual luncheon. As Wynn and fellow proponent Brewster McCracken envision the modern ultra-light-rail streetcar system, its route would take riders Downtown, to multiple Central Austin locations (such as Mueller and Zilker Park), serve the UT and state office buildings, and connect major work-live-play nodes..."
"...Can the city's proposed Austin Urban Rail avoid the persistent problems of Capital Metro's Red Line commuter project? That unspoken concern hung over City Council chambers last week, as it had in October when Cap Metro interim President/CEO Doug Allen presented an eye-opening summation of "lessons learned" to the Transit Working Group of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. (See "Where Cap Metro Jumped the Track," Oct..."
"...Atlanta has light rail as part of the extensive MARTA system, given its baptism by fire during the 1996 Olympics...."
"...Dear Editor, I am tired of Lee Nichols' diatribes against rail. His articles on the Red Line have been one-sided and critical, but his latest on the urban rail proposal [“Why Rail?,” News, April 8] is extreme in its bias..."
"...A handful of eastern Travis County residents last week aired their concerns about ethanol potentially being delivered to Austin along rail lines running near their homes and expressed frustration with what they described as poor communication from Capital Metro about the project...."
"...A year ago this week, Capital Metro was about as far down in the dumps as it could go. It was under fire for burning through its savings, the launch of the new MetroRail commuter line was a year behind schedule, and finally, its March 28, 2009, kickoff party was scrapped, and the March 30 start of service was postponed indefinitely due to concerns by the Federal Railroad Administration...."
"...Black, It appears we are on the verge of another defining moment in our city's history. Although a number of significant civic issues are currently being debated and resolved by our city leaders, the most pivotal issue in terms of how our city will look 20, 30, or even 50 years from now is our decision regarding commuter rail..."
"...Dear Michael, Re: Michael King's "Point Austin: Nobody in Charge" [News, Nov. 14]: While I respect your support of labor in its dispute with Capital Metro, I regret that in your anger with the board, you chose to disparage passenger rail..."
"...Not until the end of the meeting, as part of a 4pm public hearing, may be the item with the furthest-reaching implications: approval of the East Riverside Corridor Master Plan. An addition to the currently being reworked Austin Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan, the city's designs on Riverside signal the storied drive's importance to infill development and urban rail..."
"...Hey Austin, forget light rail, it's too expensive and not flexible enough. Try the O-Bahn Guided Busway..."
"...The release continues: "The Project Team’s recommendation, originally presented in May, features a 9.5-mile urban rail investment that includes 16 stations and 4 park and rides from East Riverside and Grove all the way up to ACC Highland. The plan is estimated to take 10,000 cars off Austin roads daily and provide one more option for residents who travel between the sites in which they live, work and play.'..."
"...Just another day at the office for Capital Metro -- angry neighbors who don't trust the agency's intentions, feel excluded despite Cap Metro's attempts at inclusion, and think the transit authority is putting the neighborhoods at risk. The setting, as often, is the Eastside; the project, not for the first time, is the redevelopment of the Cap Met-owned rail yard along Fourth and Fifth Streets; and the angry neighbors are primarily members and supporters of the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood-planning team...."
"...Transportation reform in Texas is a lot like driving on I-35 at rush hour: a lot of noise, a lot of energy, and a lot of time spent behind the wheel. But as Texans lose the luxury of throwing money at highways, Senate Transportation & Homeland Security Committee Vice Chair Kirk Watson suspects this may be the time for a real discussion about road, rail, and decision-making...."
"...Dear Editor, The undersigned bicycle organizations urge everyone who wishes to see a more bicycle-friendly Austin to vote for Cap Metro's urban commuter rail proposal next Tuesday. Here's why: Cap Metro has a proven track record of supporting bike transportation, accommodating bikes on its buses (the first transit agency in the state to do so), and returning millions of dollars to build bicycle facilities as part of regional mobility efforts..."
"...Dear Editor, Mike Clark-Madison is correct to be skeptical of Capital Metro's commuter rail plan for a number of reasons ["Austin@Large," News, Aug. 27]..."
"...More Light Rail InfoBallot Language"The operation of a fixed rail system by Capital Metro" -- For or Against More Light Rail InfoCapital Metro: www.capitalmetro.com..."
"...When we last left the urban rail discussion (see "Why Rail?" April 8), Mayor Lee Leffingwell had a list of 30 questions he wanted answered before moving forward with the major transportation project. City Council heard a presentation from the city's Transportation Department Tuesday that really clarified only one thing: that questions still remain..."
"...Dear Editor, Light rail has successfully attracted choice riders (defined as those who own a car and could drive to work) all over the country, including Dallas and Houston. Many people who will not ride the bus for good reasons (speed, reliability) and bad reasons (classism) will and do ride trains to work. We're not building light rail here (yet); our commuter rail line is stupid and will likely be an impediment rather than a help to urban rail if and when it ever gets here, but that doesn't change the fact that Skip Cameron's demonstrably false statements have no place in your paper [Postmarks online, Nov..."
"...Dear Editor, We are headed for a disastrous bond election defeat, and the final nail in the coffin for light rail in Austin, if we allow City Council to ram this ridiculous Mueller route proposal down our throats. Possibly the only alignment that stands any chance of winning a citywide bond election is North Lamar/Guadalupe..."
"...This Friday, Nov. 15, Project Connect, the regional planning initiative under the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), will present its first formal recommendation for which Austin sub-corridor to prioritize to receive light rail..."
"...Dear Editor, Regarding John Langmore's Postmark "Don't Throw Out Passenger Rail With the Bathwater" [Nov. 21]: he is a self-appointed expert on transportation issues and a consultant paid to promote rail. Rail will not corral urban sprawl, causes more air pollution than single occupant vehicles, will not reduce congestion, wastes huge amounts of taxpayer money for no people mobility gain, diverts money from real solutions, forces increased fares and reduced service to people depending on public transportation (it's happening), all the while chasing choice riders who aren't interested. It's time politicians and bureaucrats listen to their constituents and put our tax money to work on real people mobility improvements...."
"...Dear Editor, Re: "Working on the Railroad" [News, Feb. 22]: A couple of smaller rail lines were not included in the map that may be of interest: The Bergstrom Spur connects to the Union Pacific line south of Ben White and used to end at Bergstrom (Air Force Base)..."
"...Dear Editor, Major decisions regarding light rail in Austin will be made this year by city government. There seems to be an infatuation with Mueller, and for installing the first phase of light rail between Downtown and that subdivision..."
"..."We're not a social service agency" is Cowman's direct quote. Then why didn't Cowman protest when more than $100 million of our tax dollars were spent to build a rail line from Downtown to – that's right, Leander..."
"...So what then? While it's not yet clear what will be on the bond package for this year, it does seem fairly certain that there will be one. The last time we had a chance to vote for increased public transportation (in the form of the light rail), the city presented a plan that managed to alienate many who should have been natural supporters..."
"...Also, about 48,000 Americans are killed each year by our favorite form of transportation, the automobile. This exceeds, by far, rail or other modes of public transportation currently in use here and around the world..."
"...As for transportation, the larger questions surrounding regional commuter rail have not yet surfaced in the House or Senate, but plenty of time remains for that much-debated topic to appear. Capital Metro's sales tax, harshly challenged but triumphant during the last legislative cycle, may be challenged again this time around..."
"...And what kind of residential development will grace the New Mueller? So far, ROMA has been talking about what is basically row housing - very small-lot subdivision, like about 25 feet across. This is to produce density, and support the light-rail line that's now routed straight through the New Mueller, while still allowing for ownership - a big concern for neighbors who fear the New Mueller turning into a rental-dominated student ghetto...."
"..."The first phase of urban rail is, to a large degree, just a first phase. There is a lot more to come, and, if we do it right, we'll have that political capital to do more..."
"...On Friday, May 2, the Project Connect team presented its “Locally Preferred Alternative” recommendation for urban rail to Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s Central Corridor Advisory Group. It runs from Highland on the north to Riverside/Grove on the south, features a new bridge over Lady Bird Lake, and possibly a tunnel at Hancock..."
"...The campaign in support of Project Connect, and its proposed initial rail line now entering the final decision phase, hasn’t really gotten rolling yet. Nevertheless, supporters and detractors of mass transit unhappy with the plan aren't waiting – they're taking aim and blasting away...."
"...Newsdesk was righteously Tweeted this morning by members of Austinites for Urban Rail Action, after we posted a summation of reactions to the latest urban rail proposal by the Project Connect Study Team. AURA wants it known they are ‘not now and have never been’ advocates of ‘Lamar/Guadalupe’ only for Austin’s initial urban rail route...."