Farewell to “alms”

I wrote to the Austin Chronicle a couple of weeks back to follow-up on their quote of the week, from departing Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “It is important to remember that there are over 860,000 people living in Austin. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep this in mind when you’re facing 200 loud voices in the Council Chamber.” My observation, from being one of those 200 8-10x during Leffingwells tenancy, and addressing the dais probably 3-4 times, was So, our rail or fail Mayor Leffingwell reminds us that there are some 860,000 people in Austin, and it’s hard to … Continue reading Farewell to “alms”

DVT and the American Way

As we approach the holiday season, I am reminded to check the American Way magazine to see if they’ve updated their advice about Deep Vein Thrombosis, aka DVT. My legs are sore from Sundays race, so better safe than sorry. Looks like I’m still in with a chance to win the 100,000 award miles for my letter to the editor last month, after all they have not changed the advice. Here is what I wrote: I’m in 22a of AA 1149, I’ve been here for about 3.5 hours since boarding. The guy in the exit row seat in front, despite … Continue reading DVT and the American Way

Austin Traffic: Poor planning

So prop-1 failed, no bad rail, no gloating from me. We still have a major commuting problem. Repeat after me though, we don’t have a traffic problem. One of the problems we have, that comes from growth is so many places are having infrastructure work. Google are all over south Austin laying underground conduit for fiber optic cables, mostly though they are not the problem, apart from a half day here or there where the close off a lane. The RapidBus dedicated lanes have caused some problems downtown, but slowly people have got used to not using the bus lanes, … Continue reading Austin Traffic: Poor planning

Austin doesn’t have a traffic problem

Tomorrow is voting day for Texas and Austin, there is some excitement over the new 10 district system in Austin among the political classes, but not much among the voters. One of the big issues, at least for me and the general media has been the traffic, and more specifically congestion. Up for vote is Prop-1. a mixed rail and roads bond with a cost of $1.4 billion. It has become a total political football, although either way it is a win/win for the urbanists who either get rail and can pursue density; or don’t get rail and can use that … Continue reading Austin doesn’t have a traffic problem

Why Nations Fail, does this apply to Texas?

Why Nations Fail is a fascinating book, by Acemoglu of MIT and political scientist, James Robinson. They posit that economies that have abundant natural resources can be easily captured by groups that become politically powerful. The authors view is that an abundance of natural resources, which may seem like a blessing, often turns out to be a blessing for a select few and, for the rest of a country’s citizens, a curse. It’s called the natural-resource curse. The natural-resource curse is well understood economic equation, there are a number of papers on it, this one by Sachs and Warner, the … Continue reading Why Nations Fail, does this apply to Texas?

There are no $1.4 Billion do-overs

There is a better choice and it’s worth the wait, Austin’s strongest and densest corridor: Guadalupe-North Lamar.. Communities want light rail on that route and have written it into the neighborhood plans. The FTA has said it would consider funding a MetroRapid bus-to-light rail conversion in that corridor. Continue reading There are no $1.4 Billion do-overs

Prop-1 The Wrong Rail for Austin

From where I see it, this was never about rail, it was always about developing an under-developed corridor of central Austin. A previously undesirable corridor because of it’s proximity to I35 and the noise and congestion associate, along with specific properties, which, without rail wouldn’t be nearly as viable or valuable. Continue reading Prop-1 The Wrong Rail for Austin

Decaying Texas

It’s been an interesting month. I live in Austin Texas, boom town USA. Everything is happening in construction, although nothing much in transport. In many ways Austin reminds me of rapidly developing cities in China, India and other developing countries. I’ve travelled some inside Texas, but most on I10 and out East. I’ve tended to dismiss what I’ve seen in small towns, mostly because I figured they were unrepresentative. Earlier this month I did my first real US roadtrip. I had my Mum with me for a month and figured a week or so out of the heat of Texas … Continue reading Decaying Texas

Rail isn’t about Congestion

Prop.1 on the Austin November ballot is an attempt to fund the largest single bond in Austin history, almost half the $1 billion going to the light rail proposal. Finally people seem to be getting the fact that the light rail, if funded, won’t help with the existing traffic. KUT had a good review of this yesterday, the comments also some useful links. You can listen to the segment here: Is a Light Rail Line Going to Solve Austin’s Traffic Problems? Jace Deloney, makes some good points, what no one is saying though, and what I believe is the real reason … Continue reading Rail isn’t about Congestion