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, firstname.lastname@example.org