Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Vision for Central Texas transit unveiled

Written by  Mischa Wanek-Libman, engineering editor
Vision for Central Texas transit unveiled City of Austin Texas
Project Connect regional partners, after a year of collaborative work and under the leadership of the Transit Working Group led by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, unveiled a regional high-capacity transit vision to keep Central Texas connected.

Express lanes on highways, existing and new rail service, and rapid transit are all components of the regional vision that when connected to the local bus network will provide real improvements in the region's mobility and connect cities and major activity centers throughout the region, according to the Transit Working Group.

Adding people-moving capacity has been a key regional demand, as Central Texas has grown too fast for our transportation system to keep up. The Austin region has been crowned America's "fastest growing" by Forbes for three consecutive years.

"The Transit Working Group analyzed a tremendous amount of data over this past year, to help us define a vision for a regional transit system to set Central Texas on a great path to move forward," Mayor Leffingwell said. "The result is a plan that runs from Georgetown to Round Rock and Leander, takes several routes through the City of Austin and then continues on to Oak Hill and San Marcos."

That path forward was reinforced by the results of a review of Project Connect and the Urban Rail project by an American Public Transportation Association (APTA) peer review delegation. The peer review report was released in conjunction with a public meeting of the Transit Working Group and delegation representatives. The peer review report acknowledged the leadership of the Transit Working Group, as well as the comprehensive system plan approach that Project Connect undertakes. The review also outlined opportunities and recommendations to ensure the successful implementation of the transit vision and its projects

In the coming weeks, Austin regional leaders will continue to meet and engage in collaborative discussion with each other and the community to execute the recommendations.

"The transit vision offers a smart, comprehensive regional network that will benefit our entire region. Now it's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the next investment to connect and enhance our regional transportation system," said Austin's Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson.

Project Connect will host three open house events in February to reintroduce the regional transit vision to the community. The work will be folded into the upcoming Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) 2040 transportation planning process.

The Project Connect partners will work with the Transit Working Group to implement the recommendations on operation and planning for high-capacity transit, provided by the peer analysis conducted by the APTA. The Project Connect partners also anticipate hiring an urban rail program director to facilitate planning and outreach for the next phase of high-capacity transit.