Make Austin a transit-oriented city
AURA’s Transit-Oriented Austin Petition
(See the city council candidates who have signed the pledge at AustinNeedsTransit.com.)
Austin's streets are full. Moving more people is going to require a much better public transit system. Proposition 1’s urban rail plan is controversial, but the need to improve our transit system is not. I want Austin to be a transit-oriented city, and I want our leaders to make this goal a top priority.
Austin is an economic success story. Our economy grows even when they’re shrinking in the rest of the country. But our transportation situation is truly an emergency that threatens to end our winning streak. If people can’t get to their jobs, those jobs will go to other cities, and some Austinites will have to move to other cities to find jobs. It could be my friends. It could be me. I want Austin’s leaders to do everything they can to prevent that from happening.
Many of our streets can’t be expanded. Transit is the most efficient way to increase the people-moving capacity of our street network. The next time transit is on the ballot in Austin, it won’t be controversial. I want our leaders to follow these principles as we plan our transit system so the benefits will be clear to the whole city:
I want our next rail plan to reduce our costs like good rail plans do around the country. It’s smart to make a large investment up front to reduce the annual costs to move each person via transit. That’s the point, and it’s what cities with great transit systems do. Those savings help cities afford expanded transit service. However, both the Red Line and the rail line proposed in Proposition 1 have higher annual costs per person than before rail. We must improve our transit planning to protect our economy and our tax dollars. Before putting any new plan on the ballot, I want our leaders to give voters an estimate of when operating our next rail investment will give Austin lower operating costs than the buses it replaces.
I want Austin to spend at least as much effort improving our bus system as we do on rail. Even when we build more rail lines, the vast majority of transit riders will be on the buses that run through the whole city. If we don’t work to improve bus service too, the parts of the city without rail will be stuck without good options to get where they need to go. Rail will only serve small parts of Austin, but I want the rest of the city to have great transit, too.
I want the urban density that's required for great transit across the city. Capital Metro isn’t the biggest problem with our transit system. The problem is that Austin is too spread out for transit to be great—the last census says we’re 24% less dense than Houston! That leads to buses that only run every half hour in many neighborhoods, which isn’t great transit by anyone’s standards. We have frequent bus routes in parts of the city, but our land use rules make it illegal to build more housing near them. I want to improve our transit lines by letting more people live near them so more people can ride transit without a long wait.
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