(last update: Jan 2023)
Austin has developed and is in the process of executing an expansive, comprehensive multi-modal public transport plan. This has been called Austin Project Connect, it is a $7.1bn voter-approved plan by the City of Austin. The expansion and connection of transport infrastructure has begun. Once complete it will include a new rail system, a bus rapid transit line, a downtown transit tunnel to reduce travel times, and a transition to an all-electric bus fleet. The project aims to expand services, decrease traffic fatalities, and create jobs. This includes improving access to schools, healthcare and employment.
Project Connect brings together multiple modes of transport and a number of partner organisations across the city. It is a collaboration between the City of Austin, Capital Metro Transportation Authority (CapMetro), and the Austin Transit Partnership. The Austin Transit Partnership is an independent organisation which makes sure that the project benefits low-income communities, communities of colour, and people with disabilities. They do this through the $300 Million fund for anti-displacement investments (preventing people from being moved/priced out of their communities). CapMetro and the Austin Transit Partnership are also working with the City of Austin to make an Equity Tool, to direct funding in ways that benefit people who are most at risk as well as working to prevent displacement of people living close to transport access. The program will invest a lot in affordable housing and support neighbourhoods that already exist along the transit lines.
Capital Metro plans to add two light rail lines, one bus rapid transit line, and one commuter rail line to the already existing Red Line, which will also undergo major improvements. The proposal also calls for investments in all metro routes, a transit tunnel through the downtown area, a fully electric bus and train fleet, and new park and ride areas throughout the service area. Project Connect predicts between 61,600 to 73,600 daily transport riders. This number of people choosing public transport translates into the estimate of thousands of daily commuters out of cars, reducing transportation emissions by thousands of tons per year.
Community and mobility hubs
One large part of the comprehensive plan is to create mobility hubs which will improve the access to and the experience of transportation. These mobility hubs will make changing transport easier as well as creating community spaces that maintain and facilitate placemaking through employing low-income individuals, people of colour, people with disabilities, artists, creators, and makers to design and create projects that make the area a nicer and more beautiful place to be.
Project Connect will improve job opportunities in Austin in two ways. First, it will provide easier and more convenient access to workplaces for citizens of Austin. Second, the improved and expanded public transportation as well as the community and mobility hubs will result in greater local employment opportunities.