Capital Metro

Capital Metro's MLK Jr. rail station is adjacent to the Platform apartment complex in East Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin voters will decide in November whether to raise property taxes to help pay for Project Connect, the transit expansion plan. Leaders promise the construction of new train and bus lines will help ease future congestion and provide much-needed jobs.

A train at the Red Line station in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

The Austin City Council voted Thursday to place two transportation-related ballot measures in front of voters during the Nov. 3 election: a new property tax to help pay for transit expansion and a bond issue that would fund more active transportation projects. 

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. 

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.

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 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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

City Council members and the Capital Metro Board of Directors meet discuss how to pay for plans to expand transit in the city.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Now that Capital Metro has revealed its preferred plan to expand transit in Austin, the question becomes how to pay for it. The Capital Metro board and Austin City Council tackled that question Monday during a joint work session.

An artist's rendering of a light-rail station platform.
Capital Metro

Capital Metro is going big when it comes to transit expansion in Austin. On Monday, its Project Connect team will not only recommend the construction of two light rail lines, but also a downtown tunnel to help them move along faster.

A Capital Metro bus
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A tentative labor deal has been reached between the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091 and MV Transportation, which handles bus operations and maintenance services for Capital Metro.

A construction crew works on the site of the future Capital Metro downtown station.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The construction site for the new downtown station for Capital Metro's Red Line sits in a busy area near the intersection of Fourth Street and Red River Street, close to the Austin Convention Center.

That area is going to get even busier in a few weeks, when South by Southwest kicks off March 13.

A Cap Metro rider removes a bicycle from the front of the bus.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Some Capital Metro bus drivers wore black makeup or a black sticker under their eyes Wednesday in a symbolic "Black Eye" protest of drawn-out labor negotiations between their union and a Cap Metro contractor.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As leaders consider how to fund an expansion of Austin's transit system, they've determined borrowing money through bonds may not be enough. So they're considering whether to ask voters to increase taxes to help pay for it.

A red-painted "contraflow" lane on Guadalupe.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

It’s been a few months since buses started going against the flow of traffic on a small stretch of Guadalupe Street near UT Austin. The lane the buses use is painted red to denote that it’s off-limits to cars. Painting the lane require federal approval – and it wasn’t easy to get.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro isn't yet sure whether to favor light rail or rapid bus service as it expands its network, but an analysis shows adding trains would cost more, while buses would move fewer people.

A MetroRapid bus
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The daily commute has become a bit crowded for some riders on Capital Metro’s MetroRapid buses. They report severe overcrowding at some points, with buses even passing stops because they’re too full to pick up any more passengers.

Cap Metro Pickup van
Samuel King / KUT

Capital Metro’s app-based Pickup service is expanding to four more sections of Austin over the next two weeks, after launching in Manor in June. It works like the pool function of other rideshare services. People can use the Pickup by Cap Metro app to request a ride from their home to anywhere within a certain zone.

A red bus-only contraflow lane
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro and the City of Austin are putting the finishing touches on improvements to the Lavaca Street and Guadalupe Street corridors, designed to reduce transit delays and ease congestion. The changes are highlighted by a new bright-red, bus-only contraflow lane on Guadalupe between 18th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Capital Metro CEO Randy Clarke
Michael Minasi for KUT

Capital Metro CEO Randy Clarke said Wednesday an increase in ridership in the system is a sign its Cap Remap program is working. Cap Metro revamped its entire bus system starting in June 2018, eliminating some routes while adding higher frequency service on other routes.

Mose Buchele / KUT

Capital Metro took a step Monday toward electrifying its bus fleet with the announcement of the location of a new bus-charging facility under construction in North Austin.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Every weekday, hundreds of thousands of commuters flood Austin-area roads and highways with more traffic than they’re designed to handle. Some commutes are worse than others, depending on the time and where a driver is heading.

A Capital Metro bus in a dedicated bus lane in Austin.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT

In a 6-0 vote, Austin's transit agency advanced its vision for getting a rapidly growing population around town as fast and easy as possible. But there are several more hoops for the Project Connect plan to jump through before you'll actually see it go into effect.

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

The number of partnerships between public transit agencies and private ridesharing companies like Uber has been booming. Since 2016, at least 27 such programs have sprung up across the country, including one in Central Austin. 

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

Local money alone is not enough to improve public transit and ease traffic congestion in the region, Capital Metro CEO Randy Clarke said at a board of directors meeting Monday.

For years, the region’s transit agency has been working to develop Project Connect, a plan to build a transit network that can move more people faster. Austin City Council members joined the Cap Metro board to explore how to pay for it.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Capital Metro recently ended a pilot program that would improve the way blind people use the bus system. It involves an app that uses voiceover technology to give people real-time transportation information while guiding them step-by-step to the nearest bus stop.

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