After 48 years of providing long-distance passenger train services, is Amtrak preparing to scuttle these operations and dismantle its National Network? That nightmare prospect, long desired for decades by anti-passenger-rail politicians, now seems a real and perhaps imminent possibility.
Author: Lyndon Henry
The quest to concoct a workable rubber-tired replacement for steel-wheel light rail transit (LRT)—on standard steel rails—seems eternal. Several variants of running a “tram on tires,” typically with some configuration of a center guiderail, have been developed.
Off-wire light rail? Time was, not so long ago, that when I heard that phrase I immediately envisioned a light rail car that had accidentally got its trolley pole or pantograph off the overhead electric contact wire.
For several decades, U.S. proponents of “bus rapid transit” (so-called BRT) have waged a veritable war against light rail transit (LRT), relying particularly on a claim that BRT is “just like light rail, but cheaper.”
Nov. 4, 2014 (U.S. national election day) was bad news for some important transit ballot measures, but in Austin, Tex., voters’ rejection of a seriously flawed “urban rail” (light rail) plan — by nixing a $600 million General Obligation bonds measure — was a major victory for rail transit.
Back about 30 months ago I explained why I, and a number of other rail transit supporters, were critical of a plan for “urban rail” then taking shape from the official planning process here in Austin, Texas. (See Austin LRT plan criticized … by rail advocates.)
When a community decides that a new rail transit system is essential to meet its mobility needs, it’s not enough to design a good project. You’ve got to find a way to finance it. Often, that means a public vote to authorize some kind of new financing mechanism.
For decades, even when it was designated by other euphemisms such as “enhanced bus”, so-called “bus rapid transit” (BRT) was repeatedly hyped as a kind of interim service on the way to light rail transit (LRT).
It should come as no surprise that campaigns for new urban rail startup projects have been meeting stiff opposition in a couple of American cities. That’s usually the case, isn’t it? However, the efforts in both Cincinnati, Ohio, and Austin, Tex., are particularly newsworthy because they involve a rather surprising juxtaposition of project supporters and opponents.