MTC is mourning the loss of Gary Richards, known to legions of readers as "Mr. Roadshow," who spent more than three decades writing about the trials and tribulations of Bay Area transportation in his Q&A column that appeared in daily newspapers across the Bay Area, including the Mercury News.
Mr. Richards was honored twice by MTC with "Awards of Merit," first in 1994 then again in 2014, for his contribution to the Bay Area's transportation landscape via his column, which gave a voice to those who navigate the region's roads, bridges, highways and byways.
Mr. Richards began writing his six-day a week transportation column in 1991, using a typewriter to bang out his pieces. In recent years, he would get up to 1,000 emails a week in addition to tweets and Facebook messages.
Throughout the 32 years he wrote the column, Mr. Richards’ wide readership benefited from his unparalleled knowledge of transportation issues in the Bay Area. He also tackled dangerous highway conditions.
“When they opened Highway 85 in Santa Clara County, there was no median barrier; it hadn’t been put in the budget,” Mr. Richards told the MTC in 2014. “I started getting calls from CHP officers and readers about the dangers. If it’s a real safety thing, I’m going to write about it.”
After a series of fatal accidents on Highway 85, Assemblyman Jim Cunneen, R-Campbell, joined Mr. Richards in his campaign to install a barrier on the South Bay freeway. Largely thanks to their efforts, California adopted a new policy that added median barriers to highways throughout the state, greatly increasing safety on the road.
Mr. Richards maintained an upbeat tone in the Q&A column, highlighting regional transportation issues and advocating for improvements. His columns also would delve into the history of Bay Area transportation.
The Mr. Roadshow column wasn’t always a one-man show. In his later years, Mr. Richards faced health challenges and "Mrs. Roadshow," wife Jan Richards, drove her husband to work and back home, and frequently collaborated with him.
"When I report, I want people to have their voice, to say what they want to say," Mr. Richards told MTC in 2014. "They know they will get a fair shot and I think that's what makes it work."