Bus route through The Domain approved; service to start in 2013

More stops could be added as complex grows

Capital Metro signed an agreement June 29 with Simon Property Group LP and Endeavor Real Estate Group to provide public transportation through The Domain that could start in January.

A bus stop may be located on Esperanza Crossing, about 300 feet east of Domain Drive near the Westin Hotel, Capital Metro spokeswoman Misty Whited said.

The proposed stop would be part of the rail connector Route 466, which departs the Kramer MetroRail station and makes stops at The University of Texas' J.J. Pickle Research Campus and Austin Community College's Northridge campus on Metric Boulevard.

The transit organization has three routes in addition to Route 466 that run close to the perimeter of The Domain, but none that provide service within the shopping complex.

Celia Israel, president of the Alliance for Public Transportation, said the nonprofit organization started a petition of support for public transportation inside The Domain, and the petition got about 350 signatures.

Israel said it was "heartbreaking" to see shoppers with arms full of bags waiting on the south side of Braker Lane for a bus, knowing the street is not safe to cross.

"Us putting a little bit of attention on it helped reassure both parties that this was a good agreement," she said.

The only drawback to the proposed stop, Israel said, is that the rail connector Route 466 only runs Monday through Friday, but as the development fills in, more lines and stops could be added.

Capital Metro and Endeavor attempted to work out an agreement for service a few years ago, Capital Metro service planner Roberto Gonzalez said.

"We didn't at the time come to an agreement, but then we started discussions back up in May," Gonzalez said.

He said the recent agreement has opened the doors for additional stops in the future as Endeavor continues developing the property, although there are no plans as to where those stops would be located.

"This [agreement] is kind of breaking the ice," Israel said.

Endeavor said it intends to build another phase of retail, residential, office and commercial property near the Whole Foods Market, now under construction at The Domain and slated to open in spring 2013.

As The Domain continues to be developed, mobility within the site will continue to improve, as developers are required to put in sidewalks.

Additionally, the City of Austin recently completed a multi-use trail that starts at Metric Boulevard and Kramer Lane, meets up with the Kramer MetroRail station and ends at Burnet Road across the street from Esperanza Crossing.

When proposing a route change or additional stop to a route, the Capital Metro board of trustees must hold a public hearing for residents to weigh in. Whited said Capital Metro will set a public hearing for The Domain bus stop for August or early September.

By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.



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