Flashback to the year 2000. Austin puts a rail system on the ballot and it fails by about 2,000 votes. Flashback to 2014, Austinites once again have the opportunity to vote on rail and once again, it fails.
So what comes next for the future of mass transit in Austin? That’s what Randy Clarke (the new CEO of Capital Metro) discussed on Monday during the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Future of Regional Mobility summit.
During his presentation, Clarke announced a new vision (dubbed Project Connect) for high-capacity transit in Austin.
Features of this new vision include:
- A full electrification of Cap Metro’s transit system
- An emphasis on dedicated, separate lanes for Austin’s transit system so that buses/rail/etc don’t have to sit in the same traffic as everyone else
- The creation of a “future-proof” transit system that looks to technologies like Autonomous Rapid Transit (autonomous buses or vehicles riding in their own separate lanes)
As far as the failures of the past go, Clarke says that’s okay. “The key is, we don’t have to hide from it and we can learn from it,” he said at the summit.
So what comes next?
Clarke’s presentation on Monday was the kickoff for a multi-year process that will likely end in another rail/transit election in 2020. In the meantime, Clarke said that Cap Metro is focusing on community engagement. So stay tuned for opportunities to get involved. We’ll keep you posted.
Want to hear Randy Clarke’s presentation in its entirety? Check it out below.
Want to see the vision map for Project Connect (which could include bus rapid transit, rail, and autonomous rapid transit)? Check it out below.