What Makes Austin Different...

...in a bad way?

Read this post by M1EK, summing up some of CapMetro's recent screw-ups...

...and wondered, why the heck does Austin always get screwed over? I mean, first, the defeat of the 2000 light rail plan, then the passage of the 2004 commuter rail proposal, its continual delays, the delays of the urban rail plan, the cut-backs in express bus service, lack of any good new urbanism, and getting passed up in the "progressive, what works" category by Houston, Dallas, and heck even Ft Worth! (Not to mention Phoenix having an awesome new LRT system, Phoenix!)

Just curious... ;-)


The Good, The Bad, and the Crazy!

From Wired.com, crazy ideas in Michigan:
Michigan Could Be Home To Maglev Superhighway

Lawmakers in Michigan are considering plans to build a high-speed, hydrogen-powered maglev rail line that would carry people between Detroit and Lansing using specially built cars, buses, and trucks...

Talk about scalability! All the problems of roads, maglev, monorail, cetc. combined!

This is the only good part, a smart grid-ish combined network incorporated in the trackway:
...but will spin off enough surplus energy to power municipal sewer and water, communication, and security systems, and its tracks can be used to house conduit clusters of utility lines and fiber optic cables...

Still crazy though, when real HSR would be a better idea.


"Urban Rail" in Austin?

Community Impact: Proposed urban rail could relieve road congestion

© Community Impact 2009

Latest news that I've seen about the Austin/CAMPO Urban Rail project recently was a page-long article in the Leander/Cedar Park edition of the Community Impact newspaper. Gives some nice definitions of what the heck they're meaning by "urban rail", and where they plan to route the train, ans well as some dates.

According to Austin's Transportation Director, Rob Spillar, they're branding it as "urban rail" because
"We're trying to make a distinction, that this is something different, a technology that can have the characteristics of both light rail and streetcars..."
Interesting idea, but I think I've seen most systems with grade-separation and street-running still called "light rail, but maybe this is an issue of semantics that still needs to be resolved?

Community Impact also laid down a supposed route for the "urban rail" system, which sounds much more promising than the route of the commuter rail Red Line:
"...15.3-mile track would originate in Mueller, go down Manor, through UT and past the Capitol to connect with CapMetro's Red Line... then crossing the river, before running down Riverside, and out to ABIA."
Here's a possibility of actually building a rail system that would serve a much higher ridership/percentage of Austinites, hitting the two major governmental complexes in town (accessibility of course depending exactly where the line is routed), through a busy part of downtown, and the urbanized Riverside corridor. Thus why the ridership calculations are for:
"...32,000 riders a year."

Apparently the CAMPO Transit Working Group even voted to approve further action upon the Urban Rail plan by 11-1, with former Travis County County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty being the only "ney" vote. Ray Spillar sees putting the bond proposition of $290 millon (to match 50/50 with FTA funds) on the May or November 2010 ballot. Too bad I'll be gone to college then.

There might yet be hope for Austin and REAL rail transit...

EDIT 3/7/09: Link and Map

Much Later...

...the Oregon saga...

I was there to visit colleges. Scoped out Reed College [pics] in Portland, as well as University of Oregon [pics] in Eugene. Both were amazing schools with very, very nice campuses benefiting from being within amazing, walkable neighborhoods, and great public transit.

Also went downtown in Portland, and did some street photography...