"...The city of Austin is wrapping up the public input period on the proposed urban rail line, part of the environmental impact process required by federal law. If you want to make a comment, you have until Friday to do so..."
"...On Friday, Dec. 6, the Central Corridor Advisory Group, appointed by Mayor Lee Leffingwell to advise city officials on the development of urban rail, approved Project Connect's sub-corridor recommendations of East Riverside and Highland by a vote of 14-1..."
"...After Capital Metro's Red Line, does Austin want more rail? The city government wants your input in a series of upcoming meetings. See press release from the city below...."
"...Dear Editor, On June 26th, the City Council passed Austin’s first urban rail line route. Public testimony was limited, but I would have pointed out three incontrovertible facts..."
"...Does Austin want more rail? That's what the city wants to know from residents in five upcoming public meetings. The first two are "public scoping" meetings, required under the National Environmental Policy Act..."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...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...."
"...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...."
"...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")..."
"...Dear Editor: Regarding "Spring Train-ing: Warm-up for another urban rail campaign" (News, Feb. 22): The baseball metaphor found in this article needs to be carried even further, in that voters haven't had the chance to "step up to the plate" (i.e., participate in a required public urban rail vote) since 2000..."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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.'..."
"...Dear Editor, Almost 40 years after the first “urban” passenger rail was proposed for Austin (presented to Austin City Council in 1973!), why is planning for urban passenger rail serving Austin so delayed (and, to be honest, screwed up)? (And Austin is certainly far behind other Texas cities – Houston and Dallas – considered much less progressive.) Two years have passed since there should have been a 2010 referendum ready for voters; and now there is a “rushed” attempt by a group given just six short months – called the Transit Working Group – that is tasked with both helping develop a long-range regional transit plan and “rubber-stamping” (because that is all they have time for), this June, an ill-conceived route for urban rail prepared by local transportation planners. I, and other concerned citizen transit advocates, have been attending every single meeting of the TWG; and the completely layman body of this group has struggled to digest the enormous amount of information being fed them (in weekly ubiquitous PowerPoint presentations) by professional transportation planners, with very little actual opportunity to “evaluate and provide input” (wording from the group’s mission statement) in a meaningful way on either a regional transit plan or what might be put before voters in November..."
"...Dear Editor, I am a transit advocate and support rail in Austin. The city has not allowed for open discussion and input by the public on the current rail proposal..."
"...Dear Editor, I lived in Houston while their rail system was under construction [“A Great Big Bundle of Rail and Roads,” News, Aug. 8]..."
"...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.”..."
"...The ROMA Austin team delivered its "Phase One: Issues and Opportunities" report to council in February. Then council asked the consultants to focus on producing a July "Downtown Urban Rail Connections" report, which provided recommendations for a streetcar/light-rail route and approach...."
"...Much has been made of Capital Metro's potential plans to add spurs to its modest Leander-to-downtown commuter rail line, but an even bigger rail project looms on the horizon for Central Texas as the Austin-San Antonio Intermunicipal Commuter Rail District considers its options for funding a far more ambitious rail corridor...."
"...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, 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..."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...Dear Editor, Michael King, in “The Reading Railroad” [News, May 10], while making valuable points, seems to state that finding an initial route for urban rail is a problem easily solved after finding/deciding financing. This line of thinking is truly putting the cart before the horse, and the antithesis of good, intelligent, effective rail planning..."
"...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...."
"...1) At an estimated $1.38 billion, with an estimated daily ridership of 16,000-20,000, the complete urban rail plan would run about 9.5 miles, from Riverside/Grove to Highland, including possibly a tunnel at Hancock Center. The annual operating costs would be around $22 million...."
"...PRESS RELEASE from Cap Metro: Capital MetroRail is on the Move On Track Testing Begins Tonight Austin, Texas, December 17, 2007 – Today marks a major milestone in Capital Metro’s Urban Commuter Rail project. The first MetroRail vehicle will be tested on a portion of the Authority’s tracks beginning tonight. Preliminary testing will take place sporadically from approximately 8:00 p.m..."
"...City transportation officials last week moved toward finalizing a recommended route for either urban rail or a rapid bus line. The 9-mile stretch would run from Highland Mall on one of two potential paths – Airport Boulevard or along I-35 – to Hancock Center, continuing down Red River to the UT Campus and Downtown, crossing Lady Bird Lake, and turning southeast to East Riverside..."
"...FYI: The draft Station Area Plan for two of Austin’s future transit-oriented districts – MLK and Plaza Saltillo – is ready for a broad public vetting. The plans address redevelopment of areas surrounding two future Eastside stops on Capital Metro’s commuter rail Red Line..."
"...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 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...."
"...Light Rail: According to the experts at the American Public Transport Association (APTA), the "light" in light rail, as compared to heavy rail, refers primarily to passenger volume. This is a function of design; a heavy rail system like New York's subways runs at higher speeds -- thus more frequently -- and has larger cars and longer trains, and therefore can carry more people..."
"...Capitol Metro took the public for a ride on the RegioSprinter last wekk to drum up support for light-rail..."
"...Atlanta has light rail as part of the extensive MARTA system, given its baptism by fire during the 1996 Olympics...."
"...Projected Cost for First Three Light Rail Lines:..."
"...Dear Editor, Contrary to Representative Mike Krusee's notion, the recent Center for the American Dream assessed data for rail regions in 13 categories, including transit ridership trends, congestion trends, rail cost effectiveness, safety, and energy costs ["Here Come the Transporters," News, June 4]. The survey used data from 23 regions, which are among the 50 largest urban areas..."
"...Mass transit is building up a fairly prominent presence on the web, and herewith a collection of sites you can check out and learn how Austin's efforts toward light rail stack up against other cities: Capital Metro Honestly, Cap Met's own WWW site isn't very good, and there's almost nothing on it right now about light rail. Good to bookmark, though, in case someone over on Fifth Street does decide to use the site for the purposes it was intended ......"
"...On Tuesday night, the city sponsored a public workshop seeking citizen input on the details of designing a new streetcar system – also called ultralight rail transit – to serve Downtown and Central Austin. Alternately, the city could choose a more expensive light-rail system that would allow for greater future capacity...."
"...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...."
"...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]..."
"...Last December, the Austin Transportation Study (ATS), a 17-member committee of regional elected officials charged with transportation planning for the metropolitan area, adopted a 25-year plan that was long on discussion of the need for a compact city, and for better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. It scaled back previous plans to widen practically every inner city arterial, and it called for 52 miles of light rail to provide a transit spine that would shape compact growth..."
"...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..."
"...Just as surely as a freeway does, a rail system would open up vast amounts of land to development. The difference is that, in the case of urban transit, that development is actually re-development, as in infill, as in Smart Growth, as in the worst nightmare of many Austin neighborhoods..."
"...Dear Editor, Re: “Fixing 290: A Different Alternative" [News, April 13]: There is another alternative to help "fix" U.S. 290/Highway 71 West (290/71) through Oak Hill, and that is regional (aka commuter) rail. When I was chair of the Urban Transportation Commission, I supported (and now continue to support) the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods' valiant and justified efforts to influence the character of TxDOT's plans to expand capacity of 290/71 West..."
"...Dear Editor, Many wishful thinkers are hoping that Capital Metro's commuter-rail plan can generate its own ridership with transit-oriented development, since it's got some major obstacles to overcome in delivering existing ridership (requiring riders to transfer to shuttle buses to get to UT, the Capitol, and downtown, being the most obvious among them). However, please be advised when evaluating this plan that, unlike light rail, commuter rail (at least in this country) has never generated any momentum for transit-oriented development, despite major efforts to the contrary. For instance, South Florida's Tri-Rail line has tried (and failed) for a decade now to generate TOD near their stations..."
"...Hey Austin, forget light rail, it's too expensive and not flexible enough. Try the O-Bahn Guided Busway..."