Capital Metro approved $650 million in funding for fiscal year 2021-22 during its Sept. 27 board meeting. Those funds included a $23.4 million allocation for Austin Transit Partnership, the government corporation overseeing Project Connect; $318.6 million for operating expenses; and $303.8 million for capital projects.

The bulk of operating expenses at $183.1 million will go toward bus driver salaries—a particularly relevant expense as the transit agency works to build up its staff. The capital projects budget is for longer-term initiatives, including the transit agency’s effort to electrify the bus fleet as well as enhancements to the railroad and facilities.

“We're in good financial position and cautiously optimistic for next year but remain guarded with the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, sales tax uncertainty, and also necessary funding for fleet electrification and other large projects in the future,” said Kevin Conlan, deputy chief financial officer at Capital Metro.

The operating budget also includes funding for the public safety restructuring, which will create a new police force. The expansion of Capital Metro’s public safety department played a role in the $8.4 million year-over-year increase in labor and benefits costs, according to the transit agency’s website.

Capital Metro documents listed breaking ground on McKalla Station, the MetroRail station near Q2 Stadium; construction on two MetroRapid lines in East Austin; and expanding the Pickup service offering as other major projects that will be funded as a part of the budget approval.

The budgets will take effect Oct. 1, the beginning of Capital Metro’s fiscal year, and will run through September of next year.