Commissioners: Citizens advisory committee will help develop unincorporated Travis County transit plan

Travis County commissioners approved a number of items Tuesday morning including a license renewal that will allow STAR Flight to continue providing emergency services to the county.

Travis County commissioners approved a number of items Tuesday morning including a license renewal that will allow STAR Flight to continue providing emergency services to the county.

Travis County commissioners decided today to appoint a 10-member citizens advisory committee to help develop a current and future transit service plan to the county's unincorporated areas. The decision follows an interlocal agreement made with with Capital Metro in June to extend its services to these areas.

According to county documents, there are significant transit gaps in Travis County where Capital Metro or Capital Area Rural Transportation Services are unable provide service. During the public engagement process for the Travis County Transportation Plan, the county's transportation and natural resources staff received over 500 comments addressing public transit. Most were supportive of more transit services and many requested additions in transit gap areas.

The areas in yellow is where the county is looking to expand transit services through a partnership with Capital Metro.[/caption]

The northeast feeder routes, which include routes 233 and 237, currently serves the Community First! master-planned community and other residents along Decker Lane, Loyola Road, Colony Park and Hogeye Road. The county is looking to expand those routes and possibly create new ones in the area.

Scheleen Walker, long range planning manager with the transportation and natural resources office, said the plan is expected to take six to eight months to put together. Walker is anticipating a three-year service plan.

“In order to get the federal funding that we would like to fund these feeders in the future we have to agree to enter into a transit development plan,” Walker said.

Commissioner Jeff Travillion felt the Northeast feeder routes have given residents in the area access to healthcare and other necessities and should be continued as part of this development plan.

“From what I understand Central Health will open up more time [for appointments] in the clinic at Overton [Elementary School] and I think it’s important to look at [route] 237, but what I’m concerned about is how to begin to address these needs and involve the Austin’s Colony community,” Travillion said. “We need to consider that community which has significant households and we need to work together to make that happen.”

The county will partner with a number of entities such as Bike Austin, Foundation Communities, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, the Austin Affordable Housing Committee and more to enhance data collection and public involvement. Capital Metro, the Capital Area Rural Transportation Services and Travis County will work together to provide data, organize community outreach, and provide overall guidance on all stages of the transit development plan.

The citizens advisory committee will report feedback and concerns from their local communities. Each commissioner will appoint two members to the citizens advisory committee at a meeting Sept. 26.

“What I would request is that we select people either living in the transit gap and/or represent an interested [transit] user group like seniors or parents of school-aged children so that we can make sure this citizens advisory committee has real life experience and a need for this gap to be filled,” Judge Sarah Eckhardt said.
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