AUSTIN (KXAN) — A report from MobilityATX surveying 1,000 people in Austin is giving the organization a better idea of how to improve transportation options in Austin. The survey gathered information about people’s daily commute and 350 ideas about how mobility in Austin can be changed for the better.
The report discovered 80 percent of rush hour traffic has just one person in the car. Mayor Steve Adler says that needs to change. He is encouraging larger businesses in Downtown Austin to consider staggered work hours for employees. He says that would help alleviate traffic headaches during morning and evening rush hours.
Another idea that created buzz is burying I-35 underground through the downtown corridor. Adler says taking some of these proposals and making them a reality is critical to solving the city’s transportation crisis.
“This battle to do something about the transportation challenge is a battle for our soul, our spirit and our economy in this city,” says Adler.
Along with changes to I-35, the report also calls for finally implementing the city’s bicycle master plan. It’s a network of bicycle paths nearly 250 miles long.
Then there’s Capital Metro. Yet another idea listed in the report calls for dedicating bus lanes in high traffic corridors throughout the city.
In the report, Capital Metro CEO Linda Watson is quoted saying,”Bus priority lanes allow service to be more predictable, faster, and have greater reliability which ultimately can lead to greater ridership. In addition, buses operating in their own lanes, out of mixed flow traffic, allows us to provide more service with no additional costs.”
KXAN spoke with bus rider Diana Bruschke, who actually moved from South Austin, off Slaughter Lane, closer to downtown in hopes of easing public transportation struggles.
“The first bus stop was a 45 minute walk,” Bruschke said. “It was a deciding factor for me to move into town.”
Even now, she said, “You can never tell if you’re going to be there on time. I mean I’m waiting on a bus that was supposed to be here 15 minutes ago, it’s still not here.”
Capital Metro says it’s working closely with the city to come up with ways to expand transit priority lanes further north and south.
“We are working pretty seriously about that, and there is a lot of coordination that is going back and forward, trying to define what are the best locations to give our buses that treatment, that priority treatment,” Capital Metro Director of Long Range Planning Javier Arguello told KXAN.
There’s also discussion of building up parking space around outlying bus stops.
“There is an effort right now to create a lot more park and rides so that people are able to ride to a spot that is at the perimeter of the city,” Mayor Adler said.
Another idea? Rebooting the ‘Dillo, a shuttle system that brought riders downtown every five minutes until it shut down in 2009. The Mobility ATX report says a combination of factors, including a fare increase (to 50 cents), a bus operator strike, and decreased ridership, lead to the ‘Dillo’s cancellation. Cap Metro says its studying ways to potentially bring a similar system back.