I’m Mike Christensen, and I started CountingPantographs.org in May 2013 as an outlet to vent my ideas into cyberspace. I am currently a graduate student at the University of Utah working on a Master of City and Metropolitan Planning with an emphasis on sustainable transportation and land use policy.
The blog’s name comes from “pantograph,” which is the mechanism through which an electric train draws current from the overhead contact wire, and from the act of “counting,” since I’ve found that the easiest way to find out how many cars make up a light rail train is to count the pantographs.
I started developing an interest in sustainable transportation as a result of two visits to Germany. I spent a month there as an exchange student during the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. Two years later I returned to Germany for an extended stay as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was deeply influenced by experiencing life without a car and was impressed by the ease with which people can get around when good public transit is available. The experience caused me to wonder why public transportation is so lacking in the United States. I’ve since come to learn of the inseparable relationship between transportation and land use and of the burden that poor land use planning places on our transportation networks, on our communities, and on our lives.