Today is a great day for Austin as commuter rail service launches. As Ben Wear in the Statesman correctly points out, this is just the beginning. Capital Metro has to prove it’s up to the task of maintaining this existing line, and multiple agencies have to tackle the hard work of building new rail to connect to population and activity centers.
The tough thing about rail is that it both attracts much more excitement/attention AND requires much more money than bus service. So, we’re faced with the challenge of leveraging the excitement surrounding this morning’s commuter rail launch towards building political and financial capital for a full-fledged rail system. But having seen full light-rail park and ride lots in Dallas (!) (stay tuned for pictures and an account in a future entry), and knowing the will so many Austinites have to ride (and pay to ride) transit, I think we’re positioned well to have the system we want, and need, for the future.