Austin City Council’s Planning Commission passed a proposal 11-1 last week that would increase high-frequency bus routes.
At a special called meeting over Land Development Code Revisions, planning commissioner Todd Shaw promoted the increase of high-frequencybus routes fromm
four routes to 11 routes as “a way to ensure our (new) corridors are successful.”
“The goal is to have robust, high-capacity transit in these areas,” Shaw said at the meeting. “For that to work, you’re going to need the density. (The proposal) is really trying to make that a reality, no matter what part of town you’re in.”
According to a map of the proposed new routes, two of the routes would run along Guadalupe Street, which would allow for more reliable transportation for students who travel across the city to get to class. Neuroscience senior Lara Cangir lives near where one of the lines would run, and she said having more reliable transportation would make her more comfortable while going about her day.
“My classes and work have a lot of very involved and intensive parts to them that I sometimes have to be on campus for,” Cangir said. “It’s hard work, and I don’t want to be waiting a really long time for a bus to get home.”
Cangir said she would like to see stop times decreased across all transit and thinks diversifying the kinds of transportation used will help do that.
“If it were easier to use smaller things that don’t need to take up too much of the road like bikes and scooters, that’s more space for buses to run in the city instead, and it would be healthier for the air,” Cangir said.
Shaw said the increase of transit accessibility, which is a goal of CapMetro’s Connections 2025 plan, would help decrease problems increased population density might cause.
“More people are coming into Austin,” Shaw said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth for the city overall over time. If we address the housing need and none of the other parts of living in a metropolitan area, we’re not doing our job to make sure Austinites are smooth-sailing in day-to-day life.”
Karla Taylor, the Austin Transportation Department chief of staff, said one of the primary concerns for her department is figuring out how to expand city transit without disrupting traffic flow. She said she supports the route expansion because it is largely focused on moving citizens more efficiently.
“Any move for bigger buses on these routes would take up more space on the roads, which I don’t think anyone wants,” Taylor said. “This is still going to increase capacity in a way that spreads it over more space, which should be a lot healthier for traffic overall. More approachable.”
Shaw said all amendments are still being discussed by the Planning Commission and will be passed on to City Council for approval at a later date. He said he hopes whatever is finally approved by the council is something citizens will find useful.
“That’s why we’re all here, really,” Shaw said. “We’re here to make Austin better, so we always have to keep the people in mind and make sure we’re thinking not just as city leaders, but as people who live here.”