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November 3, 2004

Suffice to say, I am must unhappy with the way that the election turned out. I do not mean the presidential election – though I think a narrow Bush victory is probably the worst of possible results because it gives the hard core liberals plenty of ammunition for more “dominate the world” theories – but rather the local Capital Metro Commuter Rail Referendum.

Those of you who know me well enough know that I don’t think highly of light rail projects. In their place (by which I mean densely populated areas where the greatest inconvenience of commuting by car goes beyond sitting in traffic) light rails are fantastic. Look at New York, or much of Europe. But in the sprawling cities of the south….why?

The 2000 plan was pretty bad (tearing up Guadalupe to run tracks next to the UT campus), but this 2004 referendum is just…terrible.

The overall plan is that the rail would run from Leander (Why!?!? Leander’s not part of Austin, or Travis County, and we’re expected to pay for their damn commuter rail?) to 4th and Congress downtown. You can check out a map of it HERE.

Now let’s look past the question of “who in God’s name would ride this?” and consider the light rail’s impact on traffic. Would it alleviate Mopac and 183? Maybe. How has DART Rail done clearing up Central and LBJ in Dallas? My guess is that the rail will only make traffic worse? How? By having to cross various roads a total of SIXTY SIX times. Because traffic in central Austin isn’t bad enough without having to STOP AND WAIT FOR THE DAMN TRAIN. I’m not even going to think about the safety implications.

And it would have no impact whatsoever on south and east Austin (coincidentally the two areas that could possibly benefit from a commuter rail) – the rail doesn’t and won’t go there.

Yet somehow, Cap Metro got two thirds of voters to go for it. It’s like the Simpsons “monorail” episode, only in real life. How did they get people to vote for it? Well, they said the word “light rail”. Austin has some bizarre obsession with rail transit, and many believe it can be the answer to all of this city’s traffic problems (perhaps it has to do with the Union Pacific lines running down Mopac). So they see “light rail”, and maybe “evironmentally friendly” thrown in nearby (let’s forget that the trains would use diesel powerplants), and support it. See? No analysis of the plan needed. And besides, Cap Metro says “it won’t cost you a thing!”, and what could possibly go wrong when a government body of any size says that?

Come to think of it, a monorail would have been a better idea. “Monorail, monorail, monorail!”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2004 5:34 pm

    Lyle Lanley:

    Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth
    Like a genuine,
    Bona fide,
    What’d I say?

    Ned Flanders: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: What’s it called?

    Patty+Selma: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: That’s right! Monorail!

    [crowd chants `Monorail’ softly and rhythmically]

    Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud…

    Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.

    Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?

    Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.

    Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?

    Lyle Lanley: You’ll be given cushy jobs.

    Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?

    Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I’m on the level.

    Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.

    Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.

    I swear it’s Springfield’s only choice…
    Throw up your hands and raise your voice!

    All: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: What’s it called?

    All: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: Once again…

    All: Monorail!

    Marge: But Main Street’s still all cracked and broken…

    Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!

    All: Monorail!

    [big finish]


    Homer: Mono… D’oh!

  2. Matt permalink
    November 3, 2004 10:05 pm


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