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Alvin "Al" Spivak (May 23, 1922, in Yonkers, New York, - June 5, 2004, in Santa Rosa, California) was the son of Herman (uncle of Lawrence E. Spivak, of Meet the Press Radio and Television) and Helen Klein Spivak. As a child, he developed a great fascination for mechanical devices, and grew to love steam locomotives, trolley cars, bicycles, and Scottish Bagpipes. He graduated from New York University with a B/A degree in mechanical engineering, and from Lesley College with a Master’s degree in applied management.


Al initially worked as a supervisor for Third Avenue Railway in Yonkers, and then spent many years working for the General Electric Company (resulting in his development of a fluid amplifier with no moving parts) in a variety of locations. He was president of two Lion’s Clubs, was the founder, first President and Pipe Major of the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums, as well as transportation commissioner in Santa Clara County, California, and was one of the founders of the Modern Transit Society in San Jose, California. He was a tireless advocate for public transport, and spent much of his life in this advocacy during his tenure in San Jose. This advocacy, in conjunction with that of others, ultimately led to the formation of the San Jose Light Rail system.

He authored two books; The Immoral Machine, and The Elephant in the Bedroom, co-authored with Stanley I. Hart, both concerned with transportation issues.


After retirement, he became the Operations Supervisor of The Kelley Park Trolley in San Jose, and subsequently, volunteered to work at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, California. Alternative transportation possibilities so fascinated him, that he regularly rode his bicycle while into his 80s. Al regularly wrote letters to the editors of the newspapers in the areas in which he lived, typically expressing his encouragement of the development of methods of transportation alternative to the automobile, as well as his disdain for the subsidies that the automobile received.



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