Samuel King | KUT

Transportation Reporter

Samuel comes to Austin from Kansas City, where he covered Missouri state politics for member station KCUR. Before that, he spent 14 years in television news in markets like Minneapolis, New York City and Tyler, Texas. Samuel has frequently covered transportation and mobility issues in cities large and small. He has won Associated Press awards for spot news coverage and investigative reporting.

A native of Queens, New York, Samuel also spent time growing up in Alabama. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.

Ways to Connect

A Metrorail train is reflected in a mirror at the downtown Austin station.
Juan Figueroa for KUT

The Austin City Council and Capital Metro Board voted Friday to form a new local government corporation to oversee the funding and implementation of Project Connect, the transit expansion plan. 

The intersection of Cameron Road and the Highway 290 frontage road.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

The Austin Transportation Department has unveiled a new tool for the public to track the number of traffic crashes, injuries and deaths in the city. The Vision Zero Viewer allows people to see where the most crashes are happening and how the numbers this year compare to years past.

Cap Metro's red line metro station in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council voted Monday afternoon to move forward with plans to seek a property tax increase to help fund Project Connect, a plan to build more train and bus lines.

CAMPO hosts an open house in November looking at options for the Bergstrom Spur, an unused rail line in South Austin.
Samuel King / KUT

An unused rail line to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport could become a new hike-and-bike trail and even host a transit line in the future. The Capital Area Regional Planning Organization (CAMPO) and the City of Austin's Urban Trails Program are gathering input on what should happen with the line, known as the Bergstrom Spur.

Austin and Capital Metro unveiled a proposal on Wednesday that would fund 70% of Project Connect over 10 to 15 years.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Capital Metro Board and Austin City Council both endorsed the new $10 billion Project Connect long-term transit plan last month. But questions — made more acute by the pandemic-induced recession — remain: how much of the plan to pay for and when to do it? On Wednesday, leaders provided some initial answers.

A sign at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport displays health precautions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

One of the sectors that’s been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic is the aviation industry. Even as activity perks up a bit, passenger traffic and flights at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are a fraction of what they were this time last year.

Courtesy of the candidates

Travis County Commissioners Court District 3 runs from Austin’s downtown core westward to the edge of the Hill Country, so the district covers a lot of ground in more ways than one.

It’s that challenging terrain, literally and metaphorically, that attracted the two Democratic candidates in the July 14 runoff: Ann Howard and Valinda Bolton.

A Capital Metro bus displays a public health message during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro launched 35 years ago Wednesday — July 1, 1985. As it marks that anniversary, the agency is facing both its biggest challenge, COVID-19, and its biggest opportunity, Project Connect. 

Capital Metro's Red Line station in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Capital Metro board unanimously approved the recommended plan for Project Connect, the regional vision for expanded transit service in the region. But hurdles remain, including coming up with a way to pay for the expansion and oversee its implementation. Voters could potentially decide on a property tax increase in November.

Some of the work in historically underserved areas has already begun, such as the Norwood Transit Center, which opened late last year in Northeast Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Capital Metro Board and Austin City Council are expected to vote Wednesday on a preferred plan for Project Connect, the proposal to expand the region’s transit system. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board approved a final list of projects that will be deferred to help pay for major improvements on I-35 in Austin, after months of debate. 

West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has the most COVID-19-related deaths in Austin, according to nursing home data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released data Thursday on the number of reported cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes across the country. The data includes specifics on which facilities have cases — information that both Texas and Austin officials had previously refused to release, citing privacy laws.

Photos of Ahmaud Arbery and Michael Ramos are displayed during a vigil on Wednesday.
Michael Minasi / KUT

A small group of pastors and community members prayed for peace and justice during a vigil in East Austin Wednesday night. The solemn gathering was a contrast to protesters chanting around the Austin Police Department a mile away. 

The Red Line station downtown
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro is closely monitoring data to determine how and where to ramp up transit service that was cut back because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some MetroExpress commuter routes were restored earlier this week, but the bulk of Cap Metro’s bus routes remain on a Sunday schedule.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks from the State Operations Center on Feb. 27.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Read this story in English.

Mientras más negocios en Texas empiezan a reabrir, el gobernador Greg Abbott dijo que el cuidado de niños es esencial y anunció que se permitirá a las guarderías reabrir inmediatamente.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks from the State Operations Center on Feb. 27.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As more businesses begin to reopen, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said child care is essential and announced that providers would be allowed to reopen immediately.

The governor also said at a news conference Monday that bars would be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity starting Friday. Restaurants will be allowed to expand to 50% then, too, he said. These limits will not apply to outdoor patios where customers can maintain safe distances.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro unveiled plans in early March for transit expansion in Austin, with additional rail and bus lines, along with a downtown subway-like tunnel. The plan was intended to help congestion stay manageable as the region was projected to double in population over the next 25 years.

Courtesy of Felicia Dodson Hill

Maurice Dotson died April 17, weeks after contracting COVID-19. The 51-year old worked as a nurse’s aide at West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in South Austin, and that’s where his family believes he contracted the coronavirus.

Southwest Airlines planes prepare to depart from Austin Airport on Feb. 21, 2019.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A team of investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration was sent to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after a man was found dead on a runway, possibly struck by a plane. 

911 calls indicate West Oaks Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Southwest Austin has had a cluster of COVID-19 cases.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Click here to read this story in English

"Tengo un residente. Su temperatura está subiendo y su oxígeno está bajando bastante, por lo que el médico quiere sacarla[del hogar]", dice quien llamó desde el Riverside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center en una llamada al 911 el 21 de abril. "Ella es COVID-positiva. ... Tiene una temperatura de 102. Su nivel de oxígeno está bajando".

911 calls indicate West Oaks Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Southwest Austin has had a cluster of COVID-19 cases.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

"I have a resident. Her temperature is going up and her oxygen is dropping quite low, so the doctor wants to send her out," the caller from Riverside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center says in a 911 call April 21. "She’s COVID-positive. ... She’s running a temp of 102. Her oxygen level’s dropping."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A funding gap for the I-35 Capital Express project in Austin got a lot smaller Thursday, as the Texas Transportation Commission voted to allocate $3.4 billion as part of TxDOT’s 10-year transportation plan.

Michael Minasi / KUT

Staff working at multiple facilities is contributing to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the region’s nursing homes, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Wednesday.

The Texas Capitol
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a plan to gradually reopen aspects of the state's economy, with a goal of allowing Texans to return to work while containing the spread of COVID-19. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott said the daily trend line for the number of coronavirus cases in Travis County is “the type of line you want to see.”

Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin’s streets are far less congested these days as people stay home to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Law enforcement is worried some drivers are taking empty streets as an invitation to speed, though – with dangerous results.

A Capital Metro bus displays a public health message to wash hands.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro's ridership has plunged by more than 60% since stay-at-home orders were put in place in response to COVID-19. But that means several thousand passengers are still riding the bus each day.

Those riders face a different experience than what existed just a few weeks ago. Routes have been cut to account for the drop in ridership, leaving some buses with more passengers and others with fewer.

A heart with "ATX" inside on the Fairmont Hotel
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Stay-at-home orders are expected to be issued in the City of Austin, Travis County and Williamson County on Tuesday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said. The orders would require all nonessential businesses to have employees work from home and further restrict other gatherings.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro will be running fewer buses and trains on many routes starting Wednesday and is developing financial contingency plans in response to COVID-19. To protect drivers, Cap Metro is also asking passengers to enter buses through the rear door, unless they’re paying with cash or need the ramp.

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