Tonight, I will be putting out the text that I will use to address the City Council to argue for the ideas in AURA’s resolution. One argument I will not be making, but that has been made by people whom I agree with most of the time and who I consider my friends, is that Highland is the same as Mueller.
I don’t understand the argument completely, but here are my reasons for not using it:
- It isn’t true. At the most basic, simplistic level, Highland is a route that goes one place; Mueller is a route that goes someplace nearby, but different. They share part of the same route, but not the whole thing. AURA has emphasized that we should use actual, true facts in this process. This isn’t an actual, true fact.
- It’s not clear why it matters. There’s been a similar argument regarding the Red Line that Lakeline == Cedar Park. In that case, the argument is that most of the passengers who take the Red Line from Lakeline station come from Cedar Park. This matters because Cedar Park is not in the Cap Metro service area, so they are not paying taxes. But Mueller is a part of Austin. It’s not a priori obvious why having a route go to Mueller is bad. My analysis says that Mueller is a less advantageous first route than Lamar or Riverside. But then again, my analysis says the same about Highland, so bringing up Mueller just seems to confuse the issue.
- It makes Mueller sound evil, without explaining why. I know a lot of people in the urbanist community are disappointed that Mueller didn’t become more urban, but most people in Austin don’t have some gut-level hatred for Mueller. It’s a nice, growing neighborhood. If you are implying that Highland is a stalking horse for Mueller, you either need to explain why that’s a bad thing or you sound like you just have an irrational hatred for one neighborhood. Certainly, you can’t expect any politician to share in your concern.
Perhaps I’m missing something obvious. But if so, maybe the argument needs to be fleshed out a bit better. From my perspective, the fact that 2 years ago staff’s analysis chose Mueller and today’s staff analysis picks Highland, tells me that either: a) it’s a really good thing the public doesn’t just take staff’s word for granted because different staffs might come up with different answers, or b) projections can change rapidly, even in the span of just 2 years.