Project Connect Media Release (2020-07-20)

AURA members identify priorities for November transportation

AURA members overwhelmingly approved a set of policy preferences aimed at shaping Austin City Council’s crafting of a new transportation ballot measure for this November’s election. The specific policy planks approved by AURA members are:

  1. AURA supports the 11 cent property tax increase to pay to fund the full Project Connect plan.
  2. AURA urges City Council to require Republic Square to North Lamar Transit Center as a segment of the initial light rail project.
  3. AURA urges City Council and CapMetro to expand light rail service to Tech Ridge as soon as possible, including in the initial rail project if it is legally and financially feasible.
  4. AURA supports a historic investment in improving bus service that matches the scale of what is proposed by the Project Connect System Vision.
  5. AURA supports the construction of the “downtown tunnel” featured in the Project Connect System Vision.
  6. AURA urges City Council place a $750 million active transportation and Vision Zero bond on the November ballot.
  7. AURA urges City Council to develop a comprehensive anti-residential displacement policy approach for areas impacted by transit investment; the policy may include innovative land use, PIDs, TIFs, and new TOD below-market-housing funds.
  8. AURA supports the exclusion of new funds for roadway expansion in the package.
  9. AURA urges City Council to provide a new operations and maintenance funding stream proportional to the needs of the November package’s proposed transit capital investments.
  10. AURA urges City Council, the Austin Transportation Department and CapMetro to accelerate shovel-ready improvements in the project sequencing.

“We have an opportunity to build the infrastructure that will profoundly change how we move around our city and to do it in a way that will benefit all of us for generations to come,” said Cesar Acosta, AURA Board President. “AURA will continue to fight for transportation investments that reflect our mission of creating an Austin for Everyone. We encourage all that support our policy vision to share our positions publicly, to reach out to the Mayor and Council, and to engage our Board to find ways to work together,” concluded Acosta.

AURA is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that advocates for an Austin that is inclusive, open to change, and welcoming to everyone.

Cesar Acosta, AURA Board President

Oppose the Burnet Road proposal

The 2016 Mobility Bond provided the City of Austin with funding “to address implementation of Corridor Mobility Reports, which identify short-, medium-, and long-term transportation improvements.”

The Corridor Mobility Report for Burnet Road proposes for the long term the addition of center-running transit lanes north of U.S. 183. It assuredly does not propose having six car-priority lanes and zero transit lanes there.

The “proposed Burnet Road project” aired by the City in recent months frames itself as carrying forward the 2016 Mobility Bond—yet it proposes having six car-priority lanes and zero transit lanes!

The document outlining this Burnet Road “project” does correctly state that its proposal for six car-priority lanes and zero transit lanes is for the moment “unfunded.” But that proposal is not merely “unfunded”—it is in direct conflict with the Corridor Mobility Report that was upheld and furthered by the Mobility Bond. Despite that, the City is already performing environmental studies related to the unfunded proposal.

If the City would like to see further improvement to Burnet Road beyond what the Mobility Bond has funded, it should further fund the implementation of the Corridor Mobility Report plans. Such funding and implementation will move Austin forward. Cavalierly discarding community-vetted, long-standing plans and returning us to square one will not.

The City is accepting comments on the “proposed Burnet Road project” until Friday, June 5, at 5 p.m., through this web form or by email to Let them know what you think.

Project Connect Media Release (2020-03-09)

Press Statement
For Immediate Release

AURA is enthusiastic about Project Connect’s recommended Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). The proposed light rail lines will run through dense neighborhoods — where lots of people live — and run to downtown, the Capitol, and UT — where lots of people want to go.  

In 2014, AURA argued for rail on the city’s highest ridership transit corridor, Guadalupe-Lamar, and opposed the Proposition 1 bond that failed to include this rail line. We built our reputation by demanding good rail for Austin, not just any rail. The 2020 LPA promises to deliver the rail system Austin deserves. Today, Capital Metro and city officials proposed a system plan, the “spine” of which is the Orange Line, serving Guadalupe-Lamar-South Congress, a carbon-free, pollution-free, congestion-free “highway” for transit that will carry tens of thousands of people daily on the Guadalupe-Lamar corridor. AURA Member and Project Connect Ambassador Network member Susan Somers says: “Capital Metro’s plan is big and bold. It will capture the imagination of Austinites and, when realized, give us a new freedom of access to our city, and an alternative to sitting in traffic.”

Recently, we’ve seen news about a proposal for a $7.5 billion expansion of 8 miles of I-35. Further highway expansion is the wrong direction for our city. Light rail running in dedicated transit ways uses less land to carry as many or more people. Light rail pollutes less and emits less carbon than cars on highways. Transit riders walk more and interact with their fellow Austinites more. The proposed Project Connect LPA is the right direction for getting around Austin. 

There are elements of the plan that deserve scrutiny. Given scarce dollars for transit operations, relatively low ridership lines like the Green Line should not be a high priority for construction. 

We call on City Council to remember that public transit is a system. Trains may make the headlines, but we need a complete network to ensure access for all. Project Connect calls for a historic expansion of our MetroRapid bus lines, serving all parts of the city. We need to ensure that all buses have a fast connection to the train. AURA Transportation Working Group Chair Mike Nahas says, “We would like to see shade and trees at stations, to cool those standing in the summer heat. We encourage CapMetro to continue making stations convenient for bike and scooter riders. Lastly, Austinites must be able to walk to transit and that means building sidewalks, not just near train stations but for the whole transit system.”

AURA is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that advocates for an Austin that is inclusive, open to change, and welcoming to everyone.


  • Susan Somers, AURA Transportation Working Group member,

Micromobility Fees Open Letter to Council

Mayor Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Garza, and City Council,

We write today to urge you to adjust the proposed per-ride fee for micromobility vehicles down considerably from the $0.40 proposed by staff to somewhere in the range of $0.10 to $0.15.

This matter is exceedingly small on the scale of the city budget: at approximately 2.5 million rides per year, a $0.40 fee would bring in $1m — a good budget for some things, but nowhere near enough to make a significant difference compared to the size of the need for safe micromobility infrastructure. And yet, by making Austin one of or perhaps even the single most expensive city to run a micromobility fleet in the entire world, this sum threatens to do great harm to the availability of micromobility for Austin’s citizens. This is counter to Austin’s goals to move to more climate-friendly transportation modes like micromobility.

Urban transportation is not an optimal public revenue stream. Public transportation is subsidized through tax funds, both bond funds for capital budgets and sales tax for operational budgets. Private transportation via cars is dependent on massive expenditures at every level of government to pay for highways, county roads, city roads, traffic signals, and the staff to maintain, optimize, clean, and police them. 

Newer, cleaner modes of transportation are subsidized even more. The city of Austin grants drivers of electric vehicles not only all the benefits that it offers other owners of private automobiles, but additionally city-paid charging infrastructure, preferential treatment for buildings that install their own charging infrastructure, and thousands of dollars for each driver who purchases such a vehicle. These are the kinds of things a city does when it wants to nurture and grow a method of transportation.

And yet, this budget contemplates taxing micromobility users at a rate considerably higher than the general sales tax rate. Many studies have found that micromobility uses are often in direct competition with TNC companies for rides. This tax threatens to shift the balance between cars, scooters and bikes, back to cars, both directly by making scooters and e-bikes more expensive and indirectly, by reducing scooter and e-bike availability.

This mode of transportation remains young and vulnerable. If, over time, we are able to prove out that $0.10 or $0.15 is not too much to stop mode shift, we will have years ahead of us to adjust our rates. But $0.40 today is the sort of measure that could scale the industry back in Austin considerably.

Micromobility fleets are indeed a goose that lays golden eggs for the city. But the golden eggs they lay are not about dollars, but about achieving the city’s policy goals of mode shift and reducing our carbon footprint. More and more Austinites are beginning to see safe, all-ages bike lanes as being something for “us” and not just for “them.”  Please nurture and grow this mode of transportation. 

Thank you,

AURA Board of Directors

Nina Rinaldi

Cesar Acosta

Brennan Griffin

Timothy Bray

Caroline Bailey

Samuel Franco

Eric Goff

Kevin McLaughlin

Kelan Robinson

Josiah Stevenson

Liza Wimberley