There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Saturday, April 4, 2009


The other day I received this email:

Greetings from Carrboro, NC. I am also a transitarian. In fact, I couldn't stand being one part time, so I went to work in transit (transportation planning to be exact).

I am writing today to ask humbly for your assistance. Sacramento is clearly far ahead (20+ years ahead) of the Research Triangle region of North Carolina when it comes to light rail.

I live in a town called Carrboro. It is right next to Chapel Hill, home to the University of North Carolina's flagship university. We have a light rail proposal on the table that brings light rail to UNC, but will not get to our town next door, which happens to be the densest town by population in the entire state of North Carolina. We have a lively downtown, a well-patronized bus system, and a pro-cycling, walking, and transit culture.

Yet some of our town councilors are against bringing light rail to town, because they are afraid it would cause problems running in the street.

There are not many light rail lines in the US that run in city streets. Most of them (Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh) are all older systems that never really gave up their streetcars entirely.

Two cities- Portland and Sacramento, have newer, more modern LRT systems.

Here's where I humbly beseech you for help. I need pictures- specifically, photographs of light rail trains running just behind or just in front of cars, in city streets, in normal operations.

So today, I took my Flip Mino video camera downtown and gathered evidence of light rail trains and automobiles playing nicely on a gorgeous spring afternoon.

The shots were taken at 12th and P streets, 8th and N streets, Capitol Mall between 7th and 8th streets, 8th and L streets, 12th and J and finally 12th near K Street. Listen closely as the final train turns from K Street and proceeds up 12th Street. I didn't know I was so recognizable!

(This video is also available on Vimeo)


Mattie said...

Very well-done video!

John said...

FYI: The Flip Mino camera I used comes with very user-friendly software to stitch together clips. It almost makes up for the camera's flaws: 1) No image stabilization (can't be walking and shooting at same time); 2) No zoom (fake digital zoom just distorts image.