Austin is paralyzed by traffic, yet the 2014 referendum on light rail failed because it did not address the needs of the people who live here. As mayor, I will work with the community and other governmental entities to create a realistic transit plan that improves mobility for all residents.
To be successful, transit planning must integrate the community into the visioning and planning process with authentic input from all stakeholders, include actionable programs to address potential displacement of low-income and working families as nearby property values do increase stimulated by transit and ensure a program to mitigate disruption especially to local businesses along construction routes.
In addition we must incorporate our land use planning goals set in the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan to include not only density on corridors but also regional and town centers.
Beyond planning, a key element in increasing ridership will be the implementation of transit lanes on corridors where possible, and the city should partner with Cap Metro to plan for more of these.
Finally, the city and Cap Metro should partner on a campaign targeted to residents near transit corridors to get them out of their cars, including ride-hailing services, and onto transit. While ride-hailing services have been lauded as a convenience by many, they are, in fact, putting more personal vehicles on the road and providing a disincentive for Austin’s new largely well-off corridor dwellers to use public transit (a study by the Boston-based Metropolitan Area Planning Council found that 42 percent of trips taken via ride-hailing services in Boston would have been taken on public transit had ride-hailing not been available and that most people use ride-hailing end-to-end, rather than mixing it with other modes of transportation).