Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Obituary: Edson Tennyson, 1922-2014

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Edson L. Tennyson, one of the most respected rail advocates across several decades spanning U.S. passenger rail's decline and recovery, died at his home Monday, July 14, 2014, succumbing to bladder cancer. He was 92.

Tennyson's expansive career included serving as City Transit Engineer for Philadelphia, rising to Deputy Commissioner for Transit Engineering. He subsequently served as Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary for Tranportation for more than seven years, where among other issues, he said, "I funded the South Busway in Pittsburgh, a big mistake, and the Sixth Avenue subway for Light Rail, which increased patronage by 50%."

Passionate about rail transit's advantages, Tennyson produced a study for the Transportation Research Board in 1989 titled "Impact on Transit Patronage of Cessation or Inauguration of Rail Service." Tennyson concluded that given a level playing field, "rail transit is likely to attract 34% to 43% more riders than will equivalent bus services."

Email testimonials Wednesday, June 16, poured across the chat room of Light Rail Now!, which had included Tennyson's active input. Tennyson was hailed as a potent voice and historical participant among those seeking improved passenger and urban rail transit in North America.

Family representatives said services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday , July 22, 2014 at the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Va.