‘Tough choices’ to be made as CapMetro releases 10-year plan

MetroRail (Courtesy: Capital Metro)
MetroRail (Courtesy: Capital Metro)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In Capital Metro’s 10-year plan released on Monday, the Austin region’s transportation provider focused on increased frequency and bringing more people within walking distance of its services.

The proposed draft plan, named “Connections 2025,” calls for 11 additional high-frequency routes traveling every 15 minutes or faster. The plan would put more than 500,000 people within walking distance of a transit stop. If approved, the first phase would begin in January 2017 by utilizing the MoPac Express Lanes for existing and new bus routes.

The announcement comes amid falling ridership for the agency. In July, CapMetro said their ridership decreased by 8.4 percent on fixed routes from the previous year.

The organization’s plan also focuses on more east/west route options, more direct routes connected to denser parts of town and a simpler, flat fare structure for easy boarding. That would mean eliminating the current Premium Fare, which includes MetroRapid and Flyer routes, and folding those services into the Local base fare, Capital Metro said in a statement.

PLAN WOULD COMBINE TO GIVE RIDERS SIX OPTIONS

  • Rapid Transit: Frequent MetroRail or bus service with dedicated right-of-way
  • MetroRapid: Rapid bus service along 4 major corridors (every 7 to 10 min.)
  • Frequent Local: Bus service arriving every 15 minutes
  • Local: Bus service connecting most neighborhoods to high-frequency routes, every 30 minutes
  • Express: Peak commuter service connecting Park & Rides to key destinations
  • Community: Short-distance circulator routes serving specific communities

Source: Capital Metro

A promotional video warns that in order to stay within budget and achieve its goals, tough choices will need to be made. CapMetro could eliminate routes it views as redundant or have poor ridership.

However, the organization says more than 98 percent of its current riders would still be within a quarter-mile of a transit stop.

The plan would add two MetroRapid stops through downtown and East Austin with stations added to current routes. The plan also recommends adding more transit priority lanes, signal priority and other ways to keep riders ahead of traffic suggestion.

A new circulator service is proposed for growing neighborhoods like Mueller, The Domain, Seaholm and the future Plaza Saltillo development.

The next step for the proposed plan is getting community input. Open houses will be held in the Austin area between Sept. 6 and Sept. 16.

CapMetro’s plan was developed with Transportation Management Design, which formulated both 1-10 year and 10+ year recommendations for the future of the agency.

At the Connections 2025 website, you can see interactive maps and videos of the plan, submit feedback and see a calendar of upcoming open house events.

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