Transit-Oriented Austin Pledge Press Conference

Good morning. My name is Niran Babalola, and I’m a member of AURA, a grassroots organization that fights for abundant housing and abundant transit for all Austinites.

Proposition 1’s urban rail plan is the most controversial issue of this election. AURA urges you to vote “No” on this bad urban rail plan, because the city’s data shows that it will hurt our transit system.

Rail is a tool for saving money. Cities around the country save money by switching from buses to rail, and they use those savings to expand their transit systems. However, Austinites will be voting on a rail plan that has higher costs per rider than the buses it will replace, which will shrink our transit system.

This city desperately needs better public transit. Our roads are full. The only way we can move more people is by making transit work. Failing to improve our transit system will end our economic winning streak. So will voting for this bad rail plan that will shrink our transit system.

Voting against this rail plan doesn’t mean progress will stop on transit in Austin. Austinites need to elect a City Council that has pledged to make our transit system a top priority. We need to start working on a plan for transit that makes our system move more people, not fewer. We need a City Council that’s going to act on transit immediately.

Over a dozen candidates across the city have pledged to do just that, at They’ve pledged that when they plan rail, they’ll make sure it saves money like in other cities. They’ve pledged to improve our bus routes as well, because they recognize that most of the city is going to be served by buses for the foreseeable future, and that all Austinites deserve transit improvements.

Most importantly, they’ve pledged to support the urban density that’s necessary for a great transit system. Our transit system isn’t bad because Cap Metro is incompetent. It’s bad because Austin is way too spread out to make transit work well. We’re less dense than San Antonio. Less dense than Dallas. Less dense than Houston, by 24%! These candidates have pledged to make sure people who want to live near great transit can afford to, which is a huge step for Austin—where adding more people to central neighborhoods is often against the law.

Most of the candidates who have taken this pledge join AURA in urging you to vote against this bad rail plan. Some of the candidates support Proposition 1, but they agree that our next plan for investing in transit shouldn’t be controversial, and the principles in the pledge will make that happen.

Austinites who want this city to be a transit-oriented city should visit to see the list of candidates who have pledged to make that happen. They should vote for those candidates, and vote “No” on Proposition 1’s bad urban rail plan.