Lyndon Henry is a writer, editor, investigative journalist, and transportation consultant currently based in Central Texas. He holds a Master of Science in Community & Regional Planning, with a focus in Transportation, from the University of Texas at Austin, 1981. From 1973 to 1989 he was executive director of the Texas Association for Public Transportation, and presented the original proposals and feasibility studies for light rail that led to the inclusion of rail transit in the Austin-area planning process.. From 1981 to 1985 he served as a transportation consultant to the Hajj Research Centre at King Abdul Aziz University, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has also served as a transportation planning consultant on several other transit projects in the USA. In 1983-84 he was a member of the Austin-Travis County Transit Task Force which recommended a transit authority for the Austin area. That agency, eventually named Capital Metro, was created in 1985. From 1989 to 1993, Mr. Henry served as a board member and vice-chairman of Capital Metro. From 1990 to 1992 he was an Adjunct Faculty member at St. Edwards University, teaching a course in public policy. Since 2000 he has served as a technical consultant to the Light Rail Now Project, and from 2002 to late 2011 he served as a Data Analyst for Capital Metro in Austin. He is also a member of APTA’s Streetcar and Heritage Trolley Subcommittee and Light Rail Transit Technical Subcommittee.
Just over eight years ago I cooked up a new concept in rail transit that I called Rapid Streetcar. Since then, it's been attracting a lot of interest within the public transportation industry (although a lot of would-be "experts" using it as a buzzword don't always get it quite right).
Big D, here I come! On June 2, some colleagues and I will be rumbling (literally) into Dallas to attend selected events in and around the 2012 Rail Transit Conference of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
It's been a hard climb, but Austin's relatively small MetroRail transit service—built and operated since March 2010 by Capital Metro—is finally starting to prove its worth.
The good news is that fast public transport services are making a comeback in America's urban cityscapes, taking the form of electric light rail transit (LRT), regional passenger rail ("commuter rail"), and even Bus Rapid Transit. And Amtrak's intercity rail passenger services—which overwhelmingly use surface alignments through urban and suburban areas— may be gradually getting better in both speed and frequency on some routes in future years.
They've done it! On Feb. 17th, Cincinnati finally broke ground on its streetcar project.
Customarily, in almost any urban area, you'd expect your strongest rail transit advocates to be rallying around an official rail plan as it heads toward a possible ballot initiative. But in Austin, Tex., today, that's definitely not the case.
In case you haven't figured this out already, the urban rail transit mode currently in vogue these days is ... streetcars! And this is a good thing, because they were generally an extremely popular and cost-effective mode in their stride, and should never have been ripped out of North America's cities (or anywhere else for that matter). Big mistake.