CapMetro planning to release proposal to make routes more safe, accessible

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

CapMetro is planning to release a billion dollar bond proposal by 2020 to improve reach and accessibility of public transportation in Austin.

CapMetro board member Jeffrey Travillion said the specific details of the Project Connect CapMetro transportation bond haven’t been finalized. However, he said the bond will set aside funding for bus line extensions, general service route maintenance and initiatives to improve accessibility for areas underserved by the current routes.

“A lot of the communities getting left out by these routes are communities of color that are getting more and more removed from the city by gentrification,” Travillion said. “These are people who rely on public transportation to get to work more than anyone else in the city. We can’t allow these communities to be shut out of jobs because they can’t get to work.”

Travillion said diversifying the routes and standardizing vehicles would allow for easier and safer transportation for students as they travel both to and from campus and around the city. The exact bond amount has yet to be finalized, but Travillion said he expected the total to be more than $1 billion because of the broad area of improvements CapMetro hopes to implement.

“We keep students in mind a lot when we talk about what kind of changes we want to make in our program,” Travillion said. “Students make up a lot of our service users, and that doesn’t just mean keeping the lines that go by campus up to par. All parts of the city means all parts.”

Exercise science junior Keyona Taylor, who lives in Riverside, said she relies on the CapMetro transit system to get to and from campus. She said she would support a bond that extended the current routes.

“Where I’m living, I have to transfer a couple of buses and really plan out my day down to the minute,” Taylor said. “If I had a straight shot to campus and back, my life would be a lot easier.”

Taylor said there is not much she thinks can be done to improve the safety of rides. She said she would rather see line extensions into underserved areas.

“Getting longer bus lines is way more in control of CapMetro than safety just because nobody can control who uses the bus,” Taylor said. “I’d rather they do something they know they can do that will get more people who need it using the buses.”

Pharmacy graduate student Chris Dy said improvements on transit routes offered interested him as potential changes from the
CapMetro bond.

“I know there are express routes for areas with a lot of student housing, but I live in Mueller, so I think that’s seen as less traditional for students,” Dy said. “Austin is pretty good about having lanes just for buses, but that doesn’t really matter when they don’t reach you when you need them.”

Travillion said he’s confident the bond will earn approval from citizens once the full plan goes public.

“Improving transportation is something everyone can get behind,” Travillion said. “Making public transportation more common and accessible is going to make the entire city
run smoother.”