Trains? Streetcars? Buses?

Traffic Jam A La Mode

Which type of public transportation would you like to see in Austin?

Trains? Streetcars? Buses?

That’s the question Capital Metro is asking as it continues with its relaunch of Project Connect, an effort to bring high-capacity transit to Austin. As you already know, Austin is a bit lacking when it comes to public transportation. In recent years, voters have twice rejected bond initiatives to bring rail to the city. That’s why, this time around, the Project Connect team says it’s trying to do things differently.

In its educational materials, the Project Connect team says that consensus is their number one priority and that they’re trying to involve the public as much as possible. (Previous efforts to bring high-capacity transit to Austin failed in part because too many people didn’t like the final routes that were chosen). They’re also taking a more regional approach this time around, planning for an entire high-capacity transit system so that more voters will be able to see the benefits of voting “yes” on a potential bond project.

So where are we at now?
Project Connect just wrapped up phase 1, which gathered together a series of transportation studies that were completed over the years (but never funded) and then asked the public to pick their favorite routes.

The corridors that were chosen include:

  • Commuter Routes – along I-35, to Manor, and an expansion of the existing Red Line
  • Connector Routes – 7th/Lake Austin, Airport, Congress, South Lamar, North Lamar/Guadalupe, MLK, Oltorf, Pleasant Valley, Highland/Red River/Trinity, Manor/Dean Keeton, Riverside, 45th/Burnet
  • Circulator Routes – Downtown, South Congress, Red River

Project Connect Phase 1

The fact that all of these routes were chosen doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they’ll all actually be funded, but it does that mean that they’re all moving on to phase two for further study.

Last week, Project Connect launched phase 2 with an event that brought together transit experts from around the country to share information about high-capacity transit systems in their cities. The speakers were brought in to get Austinites thinking about what we want our transit system to look like, as well as which transit modes we want to invest in.

During phase 2, Project Connect will studying the following modes of transportation:

  • Commuter Rail
  • Light Rail
  • Streetcar
  • Bus Rapid Transit
  • Express Bus
Bus Rapid Transit

Informational poster presented by Project Connect about the benefits and drawbacks of Bus Rapid Transit

Over the next few months, Project Connect (with the public’s help) will be deciding which modes work best on which corridors, how new projects could fit into our existing transportation system, and how they could be funded. After all, transportation modes and funding are closely related. Rail, for example, is far more expensive than bus rapid transit.

Light Rail Poster

Informational poster presented by Project Connect about the benefits and drawbacks of Light Rail.

Stay tuned for additional opportunities for public input. In the meantime, you can email your thoughts to the Project Connect team at feedback@projectconnect.com. You can also invite a Project Connect team member to give aninformational presentation to your community organization, meetup group, etc. by sending an email to
jackie.nirenberg@capmetro.org.

The final phase of Project Connect will begin in May and will focus on obtaining the funding necessary to complete these high-capacity transit projects. While it’s impossible to know yet where that money will come from, it will likely include a combination of grant money and bond election funds. More info>>

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