Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feeling much better about METRO's outreach efforts today...and a farewell to Allen Watson

In the past on this blog, the podcast, and/or in private emails to my friends at METRO, I have lamented the rather-drab aesthetic METRO is using for its New Bus Network outreach campaign.
I also had misgivings about the innards of its campaign in regard to its thoroughness in reaching present as well as potential ridership.  

At a meeting held with METRO staffers and community Stakeholders at Noon today and in the last third of a very long Board Meeting, my fears were assuaged.  The look of the campaign may not be as pungent and to the point as I'd like (grey lettering as I linked to above never sold anything as far as I know), but if present ridership by implementation on Sunday 16 August still does not know it's coming, well, I don't know what else we can do for them.

Chief among my happiness catalysts from today is the news what I have suggested will be implemented: teams of people aboard buses handing out brochures on the New Bus Network to every single passenger.  There will also be literature and messages distributed to every single place one could possibly imagine by way of various methods: houses of worship, libraries, television (a little), radio (a lot), special events, videos, banners here and there, displays here and there, on-bus rider engagement (woot!!), METRO retailers, tastefully-executed email blasts, social media, major employers, etc., etc., etc....with the great part of this coming in the last month leading up to Sunday 16 August.

As for today's Board Meeting (video at, it was long, but the Uptown BRT update was long, detailed, and very exciting to see, particularly in light of the Garcia-Culberson Peace Accord.  The meeting was also notable in the agency's farewell to City of Houston-appointed METRO Board Member Allen Dale Watson, who has resigned.

Allen's leadership in the utter reworking of the Procurement Manual for small businesses wanting to have dealings with METRO has flown under the radar over the years, but it was a herculean feat, and he will be missed.  Godspeed, sir!

+ + +

Allen Watson's bio from (retrieved on 28 May 2015 before it was taken down due to Allen's no longer being on the Board)

Mr. Watson’s distinguished 30 year career as a professional engineer included project management and corporate leadership. His experience gained through nine years of working for Harris County’s Public Infrastructure Department and private engineering firms in the Houston-area includes the design of roadways, bridges, water supplies, sanitary sewers, drainage, and telecommunication projects. Mr. Watson joined CobbFendley in 1996 as Engineering Manager and through his project management and leadership skills became a principal in 1999. The combination of Mr. Watson’s technical knowledge with practical, straight-forward communications skills has provided clients, such as the Cities of Houston and Austin, Harris, Williamson and Hays Counties, TxDOT and telecommunications companies with proactive and implementable solutions. Noteworthy projects include: Downtown/Midtown Street Program, SH 45 Tollway, Mercer Park Arboretum, and AT&T’s Hurricane GIS Mapping Project.

Mr. Watson contributed to the number of employees tripling and an average five year revenue growth of more than thirty percent. In 2000 he spearheaded efforts to open a branch office in Austin, Texas and has since successfully opened additional offices in Dallas, Frisco, League City and San Antonio, Texas. In December of 2007, Mr. Watson assumed the position of Board Member and President from one of the original company founders. As President, Mr. Watson’s goals include continued growth, ownership transition and diversification. Mr. Watson retired in June 2013.

Professional and Community Involvement
City of Houston - In 2010 Mr. Watson was appointed by Mayor Annise Parker to the METRO Board of Directors. During his tenure the Board has passed a referendum to increase future revenue, continued construction of three new rail lines, reduced the agency’s debt, improved procurement practices and procedures and approved a new 5-year transit plan focused on substantially improving METRO’s local bus services.

City of Houston - In 2009 Mr. Watson was appointed by Mayor Bill White to the City of Houston Airport Land Use Regulations Board of Adjustments. Specific responsibilities include regulating land use around the City’s three airports to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. In addition, Mr. Watson works with other members of the Board to handle appeals and variance requests.

Greater Houston Partnership - Mr. Watson is an active member of the Aviation and Ports/Waterways Subcommittees, which monitor expansion of facilities at the City's three major airports and at the Port of Houston. These Committees advocate facility expansion to accommodate future travel and cargo projections. He also serves on the Transit Planning Subcommittee which reviews transit initiatives and submits recommendations to the Transportation Committee for analysis and inclusion into the Partnership’s overall master transportation plan.

American Council of Engineering Companies Texas (ACEC Texas) - Mr. Watson served as Chairman of the State Board of Directors, Chairman of the State Legislative Committee and ACEC Houston steering committee. Mr. Watson’s ongoing initiatives with ACEC Texas include regulatory and transportation funding issues.

West Houston Association - Mr. Watson served on the Association’s Drainage Committee analyzing drainage solutions for West Houston and frontier areas of Harris County.

Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) Greater Houston Chapter - In 1994, Mr. Watson was honored with the Houston Area Young Engineer of the Year Award for his dedication to the engineering field and the Houston community. He has held numerous board positions at the Chapter level of TSPE, including President in 2001-02. During his tenure as President, Mr. Watson focused on membership retention and growth.

Houston Area Engineers Week Committee - Mr. Watson served on this committee for more than eight years organizing a week of activities recognizing the accomplishments of engineers and encouraging others to enter the profession. As the Chairman of the Committee in 1999-2000, Mr. Watson focused on highlighting the benefits engineering provides for every Texas citizen.

MATHCOUNTS - Mr. Watson served as area and state chairman for the MATHCOUNTS program, a nationwide math skills and coaching program with a series of progressive competitions that promotes math excellence for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. As state chairman he established a permanent endowment fund for the program which reaches over 30,000 students in Texas each year.

Houston Engineering & Scientific Society (HESS) - Mr. Watson served on the Board of Directors and as Chair of this organization. As the Society’s Chair, Mr. Watson was successful in relocating the Society to a new facility in the Galleria Area and hired a new manager to revitalize the business.

Jerry Eversole Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Golf Tournament - Mr. Watson has served on the committee for ten years that organizes this annual fundraiser. The fundraiser has successfully raised more than $1,000,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Infrastructure Group Texas (IGT) – Mr. Watson served on the Board of Managers of Infrastructure Group Texas, an alternative project-delivery corporation providing unique engineering solutions throughout Texas.

Woodcrest Homeowners Association - Mr. Watson participates in the Association’s quarterly meetings and assisted in the development of the Association’s long-range plan. The Association is part of Super Neighborhood #22 and Washington on Westcott (WOW).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hell has frozen over.

U. S. Congressman John Culberson has been at-odds with METRO over light rail in his district.  In my podcast, he was one of my 'rogues gallery' of the long history of Houston-area mass-transit, though with a caveat that perhaps his opposition to the University rail line was justified.

I never thought he in the continuing years he will undoubtedly serve in Congress would ever budge even a little regarding his continued parliamentary blocking funding for light rail on Richmond Avenue anywhere in his district.  As of yesterday, I can now eat my words.

Read these two links (the first actually links to the second, but the second is so important as to warrant a direct link of its own.

Bulletin from METRO dated 18 May 2015

Joint letter from Congressman John Culberson, R-TX 7th Cong. Dist.

Somehow...  Some way...  And with some sort of black magick, METRO Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia may have pulled off a coup that, if Culberson keeps his word on everything he and Garcia have outlined in their letter, will go down as the greatest achievement of the 2010-2016 Houston Mayor Annise Parker-appointed METRO Board of Directors, dwarfing even System Reimagining: the turning on in earnest of the fountain of federal cash needed for the transit projects our region so desparately needs.

More buses and better bus capital investment...  High-capacity mass-transit from Fort Bend and southwest Harris Counties along Highway 90A...  The list goes on, and I see no better way of going
through all this than to just comment on METRO's bullet points from its above-linked Bulletin.

Support of a state governance bill with a regional focus

This bill is Texas SB 2059 and it speeds up the already-on-the-books laws concerning the coming change in METRO's Board composition triggered by increased Harris County population outside of Houston.  Current law stipulates when Harris County's non-Houston population reaches a certain threshold, a tenth Member, to be appointed by Harris County, will to METRO's Board of Directors be added.  An eleventh Member will then be added to the Board to be a Chairman elected by the rest of the Board.

SB 2059 speeds up the process at which these METRO Board-composition changes will take effect.  Sooner, rather than later, the METRO Board will change utterly to one far more focused on regional mass-transport issues than one that has been as Houston-centric as it has been.

Though he is powerless to stop its adoption by the State Legislature or its dying in committee or in the full Legislature and with the Governor, Culberson has pledged to throw his weight behind it.

These changes are cataclysmic.  Within the next few years, the 'dictatorship', as some have termed Houston's METRO Board majority serving at the pleasure of the Mayor of Houston, will come to an end.  Given the overall record of Houston's Mayors prior to Annise Parker concerning mass-transit, I see this as a very good thing!

This also means for the foreseeable future, any chance of profound changes or utter repeal to the General Mobility Program has been torpedoed.

In truth, this portion of the agreement between Gilbert Garcia and John Culberson is mostly symbolic.  Welcome, but symbolic.

$190 million in Federal Transit Authority funding for future transit projects

Now, we get to the good stuff.

Prioritization of 90A commuter rail
$587 million in matching transit credits

This from the joint letter: "Third, Congressman Culberson will begin work right away to change federal law so that METRO can count $587 Million in local funds spent on the East End Rail Line as the local matching credit for a commuter rail line along 90A, and secondarily for any non-rail
capital project, or any other project included in the 2003 Referendum. Rail on Richmond
Avenue west of Shepherd Drive or Post Oak Boulevard would only be eligible to utilize these credits once approved in a subsequent referendum."

$300 million in federal funds over three years for buses, Park & Ride expansion and HOV improvements

Does this include 2-way HOV on the Southwest Freeway?  What this does not include, though, are monies to make our bus budget bigger, and that is quite understandable.  This money is for a series of one-time purchases of buses and capital improvements that will help our local bus service for decades to come.

METRO's agreement to not oppose changes to federal or state law to memorialize the cooperative agreement

This is a tricky one and gives Culberson room for shenanigans.  Will our John keep his work and not oppose in future by some sort of clandestine-parliamentary skullduggery any of the items in this agreement?

Given the public nature of this joint letter and its existence in the first place, I think the Congressman has put himself between a rock and a hard place.  Should he not keep his word, it could come back to haunt him.  The good people of the Seventh Congressional District of Texas will be the final arbiters of all that, however.

No rail on Richmond Avenue west of Shepherd Drive or on Post Oak Boulevard north of Richmond unless voters approve

This is the part that 'blows my mind', to use the now-cliché internet-clickbait motif.  The Afton Oaks neighborhood has been through the years vociferously opposed to light rail on Richmond Avenue going through its neighborhood.

The above verbiage from METRO might lead one to believe John Culberson has softened his stance on light rail on Richmond.  Not really.

The great problem as I see it is the 2003 METRO Solutions Referendum is, twelve years on, getting stale.  Most of the rail service outlined in the referendum has not even begun to be built, much-less funded, and the bus improvements outlined have been effectively nullified by the 2004-2010 METRO Board's refusal to act on these promised improvements as well as the 2010-2016 Board's much-welcomed System Reimagining.

Culberson has always pledged to support the will of the majority of his constituents, and heretofore, his district has, I think, spoken loud and clear on light rail on Richmond, particularly in Afton Oaks.  He has not changed this stance, but he also knows the staleness of the issue.  Having new votes concerning rail on Richmond and Post Oak allows him to keep his word to his voters while having new votes to go on for the future.

Support the will of the voters

This is important.  If the voters, presumably from the whole of METRO's service area, elect to have rail on Richmond and/or Post Oak, what is to keep Culberson and others from in-future blocking funding for same?  John has to keep his bosses happy, and his constituents keep him in office - or not.

+ + +

What has been the hook in Culberson's jaw to make him come to the table and put out this grandiose agreement with Gilbert Garcia?  In my estimation, that hook can only be coming from elements in his district wanting clarity on the rail-on-Richmond/Post Oak issue.  Afton Oaks once again, for better or for worse, dictates to the rest of METRO's service area its light-rail policy.

Wanting clarity on the Richmond/Post Oak rail issue makes Culberson's agreement this week not so surprising.  He simply wants new votes, and I don't much blame him for that.

Another hook in Culberson's jaw may be the rest of the Houston congressional delegation as well as elements in the Harris County Republican Party wanting the federal money-faucet to start going in earnest.

What this agreement does, I think, is codify, though not in law, a broad regional strategy for public transport as well as lay a foundation for future regional inter-government cooperation.  More importantly, the fast-tracking of the METRO Board composition change takes away from a future rogue Mayor of Houston the ability to completely stymie the process of mass-transit improvement, as Mayors Holcombe, Lanier, and White did with such effect.

It also gives a new perspective on Houston Mayor Lee Brown's work in the late 1990s to bring light rail to our city.  However, this work also set a precedent for light rail that is at-grade and stops for red lights, the wisdom of which is to my mind still to be proven.

My friend, Wayne Ashley, in his blog is far-more effusive about this 'Culberson-Garcia Accord' than I.  Culberson could still be forced to go back on his word, and this year's election for Mayor of Houston could produce a maverick with his own ideas about Houston mass-transit which include not so much cooperation with the County and Multi-Cities, which for Houston-area bus riders will not be a good thing.  Yes, I am very guarded about all of this.

If Culberson keeps his word and the next Mayor of Houston does not sabotage everything with a new rogue Board, the agreement between Culberson and Garcia could go down in history as one of the brilliant moments in the history of Houston mass-transit.

We shall see.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Burt Ballanfant leaves the METRO Board

Burt Ballanfant ca. 2007

After many years of service with dignity and sage wisdom, Burt Ballanfant's eight-year term on the METRO Board has come to an end, this Thursday's Regular Board Meeting being his last.  Burt's departure falls on the heels of that of Judge Dwight Jefferson, who is running for Houston City Controller.

The direct link to Mayor Ballanfant's photo and bio is at but as his page will soon be removed from METRO's website, I've included his biographical information at the bottom of this post along with his photo from that page at the top.

As a citizen mass-transit advocate, I found Board Member Ballanfant to be very pleasant to deal with and be around.  He was always genuine, genteel, and on-point with everything he did.  He always asked the right questions, and I believe he like all our Board members has a real desire to make not just his West University Place, but the whole of Greater Houston-Galveston a better place.

I also appreciated his presence as a private citizen and arts fan at Houston Chamber Choir concerts, and hope he will continue to be such.  Godspeed, Burt, and thank you for everything.

+ + +

Burt Ballanfant was appointed to the METRO Board by the 14 Multi-Cities in the METRO service area in February 2007.

Mr. Ballanfant is a fifth generation Houstonian who graduated from Lamar High School and the University of Texas and University of Texas Law School. After law school, he joined the United States Attorney’s Office in Houston where he was twice named an outstanding Assistant United States Attorney. He has been an attorney for Shell Oil Company since 1980.

He previously served on the METRO Citizen Advisory Board and has been a 30-year mass transit user in Houston. He served six years on the West University City Council, the last four as Mayor. During that time, he has also served as President of the Harris County Council of Mayors and Councils.

Among other civic activities, he was a member of the Battleship Texas Commission and President of Concerned Citizens for Washington Cemetery Care while that historic cemetery was merged with Glenwood Cemetery. He is married to Sarah Cobb Ballanfant and has three children; Andrea, Ben and Amy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bus route branching

Branches: A tree with a single trunk that sprouts forth multiple trunklets, none of which are (usually) as thick as the main single trunk.  These trunklets are branches.

In mass-transit, a route can have a main trunk, but then splits into multiple trunklets or 'branches', none of which usually have the same frequency of service as the main trunk.  For transit planners, this can be an easy solution in the paradigm of constrained budgets.  For riders, it can be confusing and frustrating.

Once upon a time, METRO's current 82 Westheimer was a route with branches: Sharpstown, Woodlake, Dairy Ashford, and West Oaks.  A few years ago, the 82's Sharpstown branch was renumbered as the 81 Westheimer Sharpstown, but for the longest time when we METRO riders looked for a bus on Westheimer, we had to make sure the 82 we were boarding was the correct one, lest we wind up at Eldridge when we meant to get off at Bellaire Boulevard!

Additionally, the 82 once upon a time also had said branch going into the Woodlake neighborhood near Westheimer @ Gessner, coming back down to Westheimer via Westerland, but that branch was done away with at least ten years ago.  The 82 still has, interestingly enough, a Saturday-westbound-late-night truncation taking it as far as Dairy Ashford up to about 1:30am, though come System Reimagining's implementation, the Westheimer routing will take one all the way to West Oaks Mall and back with no truncations at all.

In the long history of bus route branching in Greater Houston, the history of Westheimer is tame.  At one time, our METRO had the No. 10 Jensen with about eight branches, from which more than a few of today's routes are descended, and if my history is correct, the old 44 Studewood was the mother of many a current bus route.

And then, there is the current 40 Pecore / Telephone...

In System Reimagining, as far as I can tell, with one exception, there are no branches whatsoever - one of many earth-shattering revolutions in our coming new local bus system along with consistent spans of service across all seven days a week and every non-peak-only route running seven days a week, few deviations, and a greatly-expanded Frequent Network.

What we do have are what are called in METRO's lingo 'long lines' - routes with a high-frequency segment and a lower-frequency extension.  An example is the new 6 Jensen / Greens, the high frequency segment of which starts at the Downtown TC and goes to the Tidwell TC.  The 'long line' extends the route to Greenspoint TC with a base headway on this long line of one hour.

Routes in the new network with extensions are the 6 Jensen / Greens, 11 Almeda / Lyons, 20 Canal / Memorial, 44 Acres Homes, 49 Chimney Rock / S Post Oak, 54 Scott, 60 Cambridge, 80 MLK / Lockwood, 85 Antoine / Washington, and the 137 Northshore Flyer.  A full description of all these routes in a .pdf form may be had HERE via the links found at the bottom of linked page.

The lone route in the Reimagined network with true branches turns out to be the 25 Richmond, which branches out from Wilcrest, one branch taking one all the way to Mission Bend Park & Ride and the other very small branch serving as a turnback for buses traveling the Frequent Network part of the route, taking in the Walnut Bend - Wilcrest - Westheimer terminus of the current 2 Bellaire Westchase branch.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sunday 16 August 2015 = date for System Reimagining implementation!

January, June, and August...  These are the times in which METRO likes to implement service changes through the year with June and August being where they are on the calendar to accomodate school going out of and coming back into session.

Last year's August service changes were on the 24th, which gave me cause to believe the agency for the System Reimagining would choose the latter portion of this coming August as the time for what will be the Mother of All Service Changes, but no.  In an email we community Stakeholders received tonight (20 Feb.) from METRO's Vice President for Planning, Kurt Luhrsen, we learned METRO's planned date for when the new routes will begin running is Sunday 16 August 2015.

Here is Kurt's email to us...

+ + +

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kurt Luhrsen 
Date: Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 7:14 PM
Subject: System Reimagining Update

Dear Reimagining Stakeholder:

As many of you might already know, the METRO Board approved the new METRO System Map at the special Board Meeting on February 11th by an 8-0 vote.  This was a monumental achievement for Houston, and this new bus system, when implemented, promises to improve the transit experience for vast numbers of people throughout the greater Houston region. 

Whether it will be through the dramatic increase in weekend service, the straighter and more easily understood route structure, or the huge expansion of the frequent bus network, our customers will have an easier time getting to jobs, shopping, doctor’s appointments, schools, and so on.  Without a doubt, we could not have reached this point in the process without all of our Stakeholders help.  Your valuable input during the policy development and service planning exercises were the key starting points for developing this incredible bus system.   You all challenged the project team in ways I could not have imagined at the project’s inception, and I think the final plan is better for it. 

However, the work now truly begins as METRO staff are working diligently to re-write 270+ new bus schedules, finalize individual route maps, complete training materials, produce comprehensive marketing plans, etc.  Between now and the planned implementation day on Sunday, August 16, 2015, METRO will be committing to a full scale marketing campaign to get the word out and tell everyone about this great plan and all the places they can get to using it.  For this effort, we hope to be able to engage our Stakeholders once again to help us distribute materials, alert us to events and meetings where we can talk about the new bus system, and generally speak about the benefits the new bus system offers to anyone who will listen. 

For those who would like to see more details about the final plan, it is posted on the project’s website at  Of particular note is the new system map and the detailed route guides that have been updated and posted.  Direct links to these files are listed below:

New System Map:

Route Detail Guide (this is a big document so you will need to give it a minute to load):

Again, thank you to everyone who helped along the way with this project.  It took nearly two years for us to reach this point, but I think the final result was worth it.

For those who would like more information or would like to schedule someone to come and talk to their group about the final map and plan, please contact me and I’d be pleased to arrange that.


Kurt Luhrsen

Kurt Luhrsen  |  Vice President, Planning  |  Metropolitan Transit Authority

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What will be lost?

With the scheduled demise of our current local bus network in August 2015, what will be lost?  A lot, actually, consisting of a lot of headache that infinitely outweighs the sentimental of this ancient mass-transport network that has in one form or another in a single and uninterrupted historical and active continuity dating to ca. 1874 carried this city and region from strength to strength.

This is the mass-transit network that transported Houstonians via mulecar.  It got our town through the latter years of Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, the second half of the Victorian era, the First World War, the Great Depression, the Second World War, the post-war boom, the 'Sixties', the oil boom and bust of the '70s and '80s, the 1990s comeback, 9-11, and today's post-'Great Recession' revival.  This is the network that saw the Bayou City through its years of growth from a frontier village to the fourth-largest city in the United States and one of the great cities of the world.

But it is a network that was never iterated upon past ca. 1990.  It was never allowed to grow and evolve with the demographics of our city and region.  It is old.  It is tired.  And to 'tweak' it will be a far-more difficult proposition than just starting over from scratch with a sleek and shiny replacement.

And while there will be an end of an era come this August, it will be in the end the beginning of a new era in Greater Houston mass-transit welcomed by everyone and remembered down through the years as the start of the point where our local bus service caught up to Park & Ride and light rail and became something of which we could be rightly be proud.

It will be the day when to a great many Houstonians, mass-transit finally became relevant.

Yes, there were mulecar lines in Houston going back to as early as 1868 with HT&B Horsecar Line and Houston City Railway, but those lines were discontinued.  The actual continuity of our present local bus service network does indeed go back to ca. 1874 and the Houston City Street Railway with a line going up and down Travis and radiating from same lines on Washington, Congress, Dallas, and San Felipe.

From the beginning, this network radiated from Downtown with spokes radiating from thence and to all places all over the City.  However, and even as with today's network, going north-south through anywhere but Downtown was difficult at-best.

Look at the greatest extent of our streetcar lines in 1927: everything centering on Downtown...

from Steven M. Baron's Houston Electric, page 81

Yes, we have lots of north-south buses that do not go though Downtown nowadays, but how many of them are on the Frequent Network - those buses that come by your stop at least every fifteen minutes on weekday-middays?  In red, here is our Frequent Network as it stands right now.  Check out the resemblance to the streetcar network of 1927!

Downtown-centric..  Difficult to go north-south save through the very center of our city...  A literal horde of routes all converging in upper Downtown near what is now the Theater District...

Take a look at METRO's horrible full System Maps of our current local bus network HERE.  What a Kafka-esque spaghetti-bowl of madness!  No wonder we don't have ridership.  Who save someone well-acquainted with our system over years and years could possibly figure out this mess??

This is a network for a Houston that has not existed in a very long time.  Scads of people are moving out west and southwest.  Not so many live in the northeast of Houston or in the east and southeast.  The time for change has come.  And believe, me, a great change is going to happen.

Compare the above current-Frequent Network map with the coming Frequent Network...

No more radial-hub-and-spoke... (could not find a static image - sorry!)

For the first time ever, Downtown will not be the chief transit hub at the expense of all other areas in the city and region.   Getting from north to south in our system will be far-easier than ever before.  The legions of humanity living in the west and southwest will have immensely-improved bus service in a way I never dreamed was possible.  This is how much inefficiency there is in our current local bus network - that our Frequent Network could be doubled in size!

And look at that grid!  Yes, for the first time, we will have a network of local mass-transit based upon the mathematical and geometrical optimization only a grid can provide.  With a grid structure, it will be easy to add streets to the system, upgrade them to the Frequent Network, and if need-be, downgrade them.  This is a plan designed such that it can be iterated upon indefinitely without the need for a gigantic three-year System Re-imagining to ever be done again.

What??!  It's actually possible to have a government agency doing something competent for a change and giving us a local bus network built to respond to the changing demands of our city and region?  Who knew?

What, then, will be lost in August 2015 with the demise of our local, historic, and character-filled mass-transit network going back to 1874?

A lot worth chucking to the dustbin of history...

And with good riddance...