Future Hutto transit to likely focus on commuting between Round Rock and Taylor, to Austin

Right now, if you didn't want to drive your vehicle in the city of Hutto, you don't have many options. You can walk, bike, solicit a ride from a ride-hailing application or use the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, the regional public transit shuttles used in rural areas of Williamson and Travis counties.

However, walking and biking are limited to the trails systems or sidewalks and CART only operates five days a week. This is all set to change, however, after the city of Hutto undergoes the planning process for a new mobility plan, Hutto Executive Director of Business and Development Services Helen Ramirez said.

CART vehicles service rural areas of Williamson and Travis counties.[/caption]

Since 2011, Ramirez said the city has been growing by 6 percent a year.

"That's just incredible growth," she said.

That same year was the last time the city wrote its Thoroughfare Plan, which now seems outdated and insufficient when meeting the growing public transit needs of Hutto residents, officials said.

That's why Ramirez said the city plans to undergo a new planning process by the end of 2018 that will identify the future of Hutto transportation. There are many different options, and Ramirez isn't ruling anything out just yet, including commuter rail.

First, the city must collaborate with residents in a year long process to gain feedback on what the transportaiton needs are. Ramirez said she plans on soliciting feedback online through surveys, via paper forms and at events held throughout the city. After updating the city's Future Land Use Map this past year, Ramirez said she saw success in events at local restaurants, like Hall of Fame, and farmer's markets.

She wants to give residents the option to suggest new paths  for roads and routes so they are part of the process.

If the 2014 Transit Development Plan is any indication, though, there will likely be two major demands that come from residents.

In the 2014 survey, residents asked for two things — a better way to get anywhere from Round Rock to Taylor and in between and a faster and cheaper way to get to Austin.

"Two things emerged — one being, get me to Austin as quickly as possible without paying the toll every day and the second being get me to Round Rock for a medical appointment or find me a way to Taylor," Ramirez said.

Ramirez said she wants to work with both Round Rock and Taylor to increase the number of people visiting each other's cities.

She also said she is exploring options to get Hutto residents to Austin without having to pay a toll every day. One of these options could take residents on an express bus through the TechRidge park and ride station via Capital Metro.

This 2014 Transit Development Plan will likely be integrated as one of the arms of the newest mobility plan, which Ramirez estimates will be completed by the end of 2018.

Ramirez said she would also like to expand upon other non-motor vehicle options already in place, such as an extensive trail system that the city was just awarded a Texas Department of Transporation grant for. She said the residents of Hutto want the option to be able to bike and walk more places within the city.

"When we talk about mobility, we want to talk about multimodal mobility  — thinking about how a bike or pedestrian can connect with the transit system," Ramirez said.

The completed mobility plan will be comprised of goals, objectives and funding sources that will spur action on the part of the city, Ramirez said.


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