op-ed essay by Ross Garber is an extremely important piece, since
a big part of public resistance to light rail in Austin involves
misconceptions about Capital Metro (the transit
still suffering from a relentless -- and, in our view, largely
unjustified -- bashing in the media and by many prominent
politicians just a couple of years back. Since then, the agency
has been completely reorganized, with a new general manager and
administration, but the public seem unaware of that, and
transit-bashers continue to flog the agency for past misdeeds,
despite some impressive performance results (as Garber's article
Ross Garber, in
case you don't know, heads up Get Around Austin, one of the Austin
groups campaigning for a vote for light rail on 7 November. Garber
has rallied much of the local high-tech community behind the light
rail plan -- thus provoking the anti-transit Fringe into directing
much of their wrath now against Austin's high-tech industry, as
well as against light rail, public transit, and pro-rail
It's not surprising to see
seething comments about Capital Metro similar to those made in the
June 5 letter "Transportation Circus." Unfortunately, he and many
others have not been offered the surprisingly positive facts about
Capital Metro that might move them to reconsider their
One of Austin's great untold
success stories is the turn around that Capital Metro has pulled
off in the last few years. The facts say it all:
* Capital Metro ranks No. 2 in
per capita ridership when compared with bus systems in peer cities
across the nation and has the fourth lowest cost per passenger of
peer bus systems.
* More than 31 million trips
were completed in fiscal year 1999.
* Operating expenses are down
to just 67 percent of sales tax revenue.
* More than $38 million of
excess cash flow is expected to be generated this fiscal year and
over $100 million will be in the bank by the end of this year.
Those funds can be used for long-term mass transit
Also, let's not forget that
Capital Metro continues to make multimillion dollar investments in
road and sidewalk improvements, in addition to improving
By the way, all types of
Austinites are riding city buses. Ridership in 1998 was 46 percent
Anglo, 22 percent Hispanic, 8 percent African American and 8
Sounds to me like Austin's
Capital Metro could easily be described as a well-run operation
based solely on these impressive numbers.
But Capital Metro isn't
perfect. For starters, its customer service isn't yet world class
and its efforts at community outreach could be more sensitive,
among other things.
But, Lee Walker and Karen Rae
inherited a disaster and have quickly rebuilt Capital Metro into a
respectable, responsible and growing operation. From this fiscal
foundation, we might even consider believing that they can succeed
with the A-train light rail system up for vote this
Maybe one day soon, we'll all
stop throwing stones at Capital Metro for just a moment, allowing
us to say thank you to the team that has put in endless hours to
improve mass transit in Austin without receiving much
I've tried without success to get local groups to add their events to this calendar (Bike Texas, the Yellow Bike Project, City's Bicycle Program, Bike Austin, etc.)
If you'd like to help edit the calendar, or at least add your group's events to it, then please let me know!
Another site by Michael Bluejay...
Saving Electricity. Find out how much juice your stuff uses, and how to save money and energy. As seen in Newsweek.