Project Connect’s real MetroRapid problem

People like to say that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Truth is, bullshit attracts as many flies as honey does.

Project Connect has released a document with answers to 16 of  most frequently asked questions (PDF).

There’s lots of justifying their weak, overly complicated methodology, but let’s look at question #12: Can’t we just relocate MetroRapid somewhere else?

That’s a very good question, given the FTA chipped in millions of dollars helping the city buy the larger, accordion-style buses, along with new stops along the two MetroRapid routes.

Project Connect’s answer: No, we can’t. If we move MetroRapid, the FTA will swoop in, take all their money back, and then doom all FTA funding for Austin’s future.

Here’s why Project Connect’s answer is bullshit:

If Lamar was a non-starter due to MetroRapid investments, why has Project Connect been studying the Lamar subcorridor this whole time? Also:

Why wasn’t Kyle Keahey informed?
On November 15, he said the decision to focus on the Highland corridor instead of Lamar was close, but the Project Connect data evaluation made Highland the better decision.

Why wasn’t John-Michael Cortez informed?
He has steadfastly defended the Project Connect methodology and recommendations on Twitter, but there is no mention of the MetroRapid FTA investment being a major dealbreaker.

The final graf of their answer betrays consistent public comment by Project Connect:
“So the prospect of relocating MetroRapid from Lamar Blvd and then applying for new funds to build a different — and much more costly — project is far more complicated than it may seem”

Project Connect, Mr. Cortez and the rest of this gang have maintained that the mode and the route have not been considered in Phase 1.

What high capacity transit mode is Project Connect referring to that would be different and much more costly? Urban rail, obviously. Secondly, since they maintain the result could be bringing  BRT half-assed MetroRapid to Highland and East Riverside, wouldn’t it be more effective — both in cost and Mr. Cortez’s pet “quality of service” — to double-down on a real BRT system with enough buses to have short headways on the 801 & 803 MetroRapid routes? This wouldn’t be the same as urban rail, but a more logical alternative plan given major assumptions by Project Connect on how the FTA would view future investments on Guadalupe/Lamar.

After all, the Lamar-Guadalupe route — busiest in the city — had its bus service slashed to make room for MetroRapid.

The fact that CapMetro cut service to the busiest ridership corridor to bring in buses that cost more to ride without increasing frequency AND not giving serious consideration to urban rail on the most straightforward, logical route, brings to mind H.L. Mencken:

“When A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.”

They don’t believe this garbage. They have merely piled on the bullshit to attract Austin’s transit advocates like flies, to give the appearance of support. Which is absolutely the behavior of scoundrels.

In fact, is Project Connect invested enough in this line of bullshit to actually ask FTA how they might view this situation? Not that I’ve seen. You would think that if they had asked FTA, they would have included that information, rather than a bunch of weasel words.

Project Connect says “we’d need to ‘buy out’ or payback our partners” not that the FTA demands it. [emphasis added]. They also bring up the current Cincinnati streetcar debacle, a political disaster that has the FTA pressuring the local transit authority to finish a project they already started, and some predict will cost more to cancel than it will to complete.

Comparing Cincinnati to MetroRapid is dumb, but right now, it’s the best strategy they have to draw attention away from the ridiculous Highland/Mueller recommendation and rigged methodology.