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e_moon60

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Can Haz Train to City... [Mar. 26th, 2010|10:22 pm]
e_moon60
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[Current Mood |awake]

This week Capitol Metro's new train went "live" with passengers--free rides this week--and today I finally got loose to ride it.    The schedule is designed purely for commuters, so far, the result (in part) of having to share track with freight lines (notoriously hostile to passenger trains of any type.)    This means if I ride it in, I have to get up really early, and then stay in the city until the afternoon trains run north again, but...it saves me 3 gallons of gas (at least) on every round trip to downtown, plus the hassle of driving those miles.   Many of us on board today hope that the schedule can be extended to include a mid-morning and mid-afternoon run, and an evening run for those who want to stay in the city to eat dinner or see a movie before riding back out to the far end of the line (or elsewhere.)  I'd love to be able to take it downtown for choir practice, for instance.

It was a beautiful day, and the train was crowded both directions (and apparently, both directions on most of its runs on this week.)  On the way to the city, I got a seat the whole way; on the way back, did not for the first half (approx.)    The train itself is attractive, quiet (except for the excited conversation of the passengers packed into it) and smooth.    When not stuffed to the gills (about like a NYC subway at rush hour, this afternoon) there are places for wheelchair passengers and hooks for bikes to be hung up near the doors.   The seats are comfortable, when you get one. 

It's been a long time coming, and went way over budget, but it's a start on serious mass transit in addition to bus service--and a lot of fun.   I spent my city hours with my web-guru, discussing the revamping of one of the websites in much more detail than we've had time for in the past months...
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: lillian13
2010-03-27 03:31 am (UTC)
If it went anywhere I needed it, I would ride it!

Also, do you want any switch grass? We've been clearing land for a garden at NI and relocating it.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-03-27 03:54 am (UTC)
We have switch grass...but switch grass is good stuff...let me talk to the head transplant person, who has been doing construction on a boardwalk across a ditch recently, and see if he's interested.
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[User Picture]From: green_knight
2010-03-27 06:25 am (UTC)
Congratulations on achieving trains! Tables, Wifi, and Park&Ride - sounds good to me!±
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-03-27 03:14 pm (UTC)
Another week of drivers seeing trains zip across the level crossings and I think heads will be re-set. Also, because the trains are only two cars long, the barriers aren't down long, either.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-03-27 04:08 pm (UTC)
The real problem isn't the little stretch that's Caldwell, but the V just south of 51st where Red River takes off to the south. That's been my preferred route for years now when I come in to choir practice--51st street exit off I-35, but turn onto 53rd, left at the light onto Airport, right on 51st with immediate left (at the school corner) and then take the right arm of the V, and I'm on a street (and a lane) I don't have to leave until 12th street downtown. My new route (since the construction on Red River) is to stay on Airport then take the I-35 feeder south, and either (depending on construction) skirt Hancock Center on the south and turn left on Red River there, or stay on the feeder all the way down, riding it to 12th. I will miss that back-door access to Red River (and so will a lot of others!!)--the neighborhood from 51st to 45th is lovely.
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[User Picture]From: msminlr
2010-03-27 11:46 am (UTC)
Be sure to write The Management with your wish for the extended schedule. If they don't know people will come, they aren't likely to build it.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-03-27 03:15 pm (UTC)
I'd emailed them even before I rode the trains, giving just that feedback, and did the same yesterday when the occasion offered itself. I'll write again.
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[User Picture]From: keristor
2010-03-27 12:03 pm (UTC)
I always think that the term "mass transit" is rather stfnal. Like "mass drivers"[1] and "matter transporter", and the astronomical term 'transit'. I would be a lot happier with our train system if they used that term here in the UK, it would give me a stfnal thrill riding on it.

Sounds good, anyway, and hopefully it will get more frequent. As long as they don't think of the passengers as 'cargo'[2].

[1] Who could be priests[2]...
[2] Of a "cargo cult"[3]...
[3] Does it show that I haven't had enough sleep recently?
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[User Picture]From: moonsinger
2010-03-27 01:53 pm (UTC)
I doubt we'll get mass transit in San Antonio. The current project is a downtown train that just goes downtown. If they wanted to be smart, they'd make one down IH 10 and IH 35 for those of us who live out of town but work in town. That will never happen as it would take multiple Texas counties to agree. Then again what happened to the high speed rail from SA to Austin to Dallas and SA to Houston plus the spur to Corpus Christi?

BTW, totally off the subject, but I'm reading Deed of Paksenarrion again (been a while) so that I can read Oath of Fealty. I also convinced a book store employee to pick it up. She'd put oath up in the display and I told her she had to read Deed first.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-03-27 03:32 pm (UTC)
San Antonio would be more difficult, IMO, though I can think of routes. (We lived near the intersection of Basse and Blanco Roads, and I took a bus down to San Antonio College, went to church downtown, and tutored someone out in what was then the boonies, outside 1604, so there are parts of San Antonio I knew well.)

The real problem with the high speed rail project was that it completely excluded from any benefit the people in between, where most of the land they wanted for track would have been taken. If they'd run it up the middle of I-35, with stops at every town (yes, people in those towns also like to visit the cities) there'd have been a lot less resistance. We don't necessarily need "high speed rail" in the sense of the bullet trains of Japan...we need passenger rail service that serves *everyone* on the I-35 corridor, not just San Antonio, Austin, and DFW. Train speeds of 70 mph would be more than adequate. But when you demand that those who will not be able to use the train put up with the loss of their land (and the high-speed advocates did not even want to guarantee farmers access to the other side of their land with ag equipment--they'd have had to drive extra miles around), then no, people aren't going to agree. It was a plan designed, I'm convinced, to create resistance, in order to "prove" that Texas couldn't have useful rail service.

I-35 itself is the place to put rail <--> San Antonio & Dallas, and ditto with SA <---> Houston and Houston <---> Dallas--there are big fat highways with big fat access roads...run the sucker along I-10 and I-45. Two complete tracks (to build for later expansion of service and better safety.) Provide at least one local train (stops at towns along the interstate) morning and evening each direction, as well as express service--do not assume that all the usage will be big-city to other big-city.

Amtrak has found that the smaller markets want access--it's ridiculous that people who are along the track have to drive a long way to get on a train that may be retracing part of their route--and local groups have lobbied for (and in some cases gotten) a train stop even from Amtrak. Regional rail like this should be designed from the get-go to serve as many people as possible...it broadens support.
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[User Picture]From: moonsinger
2010-03-27 05:43 pm (UTC)
What you said makes sense to me. Build it along the 35 corridor with stops between cities.
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[User Picture]From: cdozo
2010-03-27 02:27 pm (UTC)
That's cool, that you took the train. I'm trying to figure out how to use it to get G to his school in south Austin on school days. But the fact that it makes so few runs during the week and none on the weekends makes it hard for us to make some practice runs.

I'm pleased to finally have local trains, but I think we were railroaded into the deal (pun intended). MetroRail doesn't go to population centers, it goes to where the developers want the land prices to go up. And it runs so little that it really won't be very useful or make much of a difference in terms of traffic. But I guess it's a good that we've finally made a start.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-03-27 03:41 pm (UTC)
It went where rapid growth was already occurring...though not everywhere rapid growth was occurring, because Round Rock and Georgetown have been resolute in opposing Cap Metro and any mass transit, which I have watched develop and harden over the past 30+ years. The people who moved that direction out of Austin are terrified of "those people" and that explains a lot about the politics of Williamson County and the reason they don't want mass transit. But anyway--historically, Texas cities grow fastest to the northwest, and Travis and Williamson County are the fastest-growing (in population) in the state, fueled by Austin's relative (!) economic stability. I agree that developers are a driver, but so is the behavior of people generally in this area. Talking to people on the train yesterday, some of whom had moved to the Cedar-Park/Leander area when those were still small towns with lots of open country between, the explosive growth started well before the plans for this rail line were developed. That there was an existing rail line running along the main highway made it a much easier choice than the I-35 corridor, where there isn't.
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[User Picture]From: blitheringpooks
2010-03-27 03:05 pm (UTC)
Congrats! Dart Rail in Dallas has been a huge success, and I still have never ridden it!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-03-27 03:32 pm (UTC)
Well....so what are you waiting for? At least take a day and explore.
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