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.
Author: Lyndon Henry
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.