New High-Capacity Transit System in Austin

Posted on Thursday, July 25th, 2013 at 5:10am.

With more and more people moving to the Austin area every day, and bringing their cars with them, traffic solutions are a hot topic. In response, transportation leaders and the City of Austin have come together to develop a plan for improving public transportation named 'Project Connect.' This is a long-term plan that outlines a high-capacity public transportation system that is efficient and convenient for Austinites to use. Improvements like the Austin MetroRail have already been implemented successfully and Project Connect outlines other types of public transit they plan to set into motion.

Project Connect Transit Options:

MetroRail- Many Austinites already use the MetroRail line, which runs from downtown Austin to Lakeline Mall. Under Project Connect, MetroRail service would extend all the way from Georgetown to San Antonio with 16 stops along the route. By using the MetroRail, riders would be able to bypass I-35 traffic and reach their destination quicker and with less stress than they would by car. Plans are currently being evaluated to install new routes and the expected completion date is 2016.

Bus Rapid Transit- The Bus Rapid Transit system will extend current bus service by providing express routes through central Austin. Beginning in 2014, two new lines will run from North to South Austin along Burnet Road, North and South Lamar and South Congress Avenue, connecting a total of 77 stations. These buses will use their own lane throughout downtown Austin, allowing them to bypass congested traffic. Riders can also use their smartphones to view real-time arrival and departure estimates.

UrbanRail- UrbanRail would be a completely new aspect of Austin’s public transportation system. It combines a streetcar and light rail system to service the city’s urban center. The tram would run in its own lane and be able to transport 700 to 2,000 passengers during rush hour. State buildings, downtown businesses and the University of Texas would all be easily accessible from this transit system. UrbanRail is still in the early planning stages and city leaders are currently evaluating its financial and environmental factors.

Express Lanes- This project is currently under construction along Mopac and is expected to be in use by 2015. These lanes would allow city transit vehicles and toll-paying drivers to bypass normal traffic. This idea is similar to the HOV lanes currently in use in Houston. The Express Lanes will run from Parmer Lane to Cesar Chavez. The city is also considering installing these lanes along I-35. During the construction of the Express Lane, significant improvements are also being made to the original Mopac roadway, including bicycle access and sound walls.

By using these transit options, Austinites can make their commute faster and with less stress than if they continued using their cars. Since all the branches of this new transit system are connected, it’s easy for users to hop from a bus to a train.  And with fuel costs steadily rising, drivers can save money and go green by leaving their car at home and using public transportation. Most importantly, the Project Connect system is a long-term solution to Austin’s traffic problem.  Check out the Project Connect website for more detailed information about these transit options.

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