Austin considers taking another shot at high capacity transit bond

Passengers arrive downtown off of a MetroRail red line train in Austin. City council is eyeing a possible bond in 2020 to build a high-capacity transit system.

Passengers arrive downtown off of a MetroRail red line train in Austin. City council is eyeing a possible bond in 2020 to build a high-capacity transit system.

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High-capacity transit focus
Bus or rail? It is a question council members say will be at the center of discussion throughout the next two years as City Council prepares to bring a bond for a high-capacity transit system—one that operates outside of traffic—to voters in November 2020.

“We have an urgent need for real choices in how we get around,” Kitchen said. “There’s no greater transformative change for Austin than creating a complete transportation system connected to high-capacity transit, and I’m committed to making that change.”

Kitchen and Adler said City Council will make decisions early in 2019 with implications for the 2020 bond. Those decisions include the city’s first strategic mobility plan, approval of a plan to spend $482 million in 2016 Mobility Bond funds on street corridors and approval of Capital Metro’s Project Connect, which will include a plan for a potential high-capacity transit system.

Kitchen said public outreach for the 2020 bond begins now, as a high-capacity transit system will need to be what the voters want so there is no repeat of the 2000 and 2014 rail bond rejections.

Adler said if all these pieces fall into place, then mobility in Austin “moves to an entirely different world.”

“We weren’t poised to do that one to two years ago, but now the pieces are in place,” Adler said. “If we don’t get this done now, then everyone should be voted out of office and never let back in again.”
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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