Transportation

Traffic, public transit, congestion, road construction and closures, I-35, MoPac, US 290, US 183, Ben White Blvd, and policy and planning issues related to transportation and mobility in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson.

Drive.ai

The booming North Texas city of Frisco is reportedly set to get the nation's first self-driving car service.

The service, reported Monday by The Dallas Morning News, will first be accessible in July for roughly 10,000 employees working in a bevy of corporate offices located less than a mile away from The Star, a retail and dining area that also serves as headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys. The service will also be free for the first six months. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Farm-to-market and ranch-to-market roads have helped rural Texans get around since the 1940s. But what happens when these roads become completely surrounded by the city, with fewer ranches and farms on route? The seemingly odd road names caught one listener's curiosity.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Dockless vehicle providers now have rules for operating in Austin after a City Council vote early this morning, giving providers a framework to deploy dockless bikes and scooters legally by as soon as next week.

The unanimous vote rolls dockless vehicles into a city ordinance banning abandoned vehicles from blocking rights-of-way like sidewalks and sets up a framework to penalize dockless vehicles operating illegally in Austin.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Austin voters now have a clearer roadmap for a slate of bond-funded projects intended to relieve congestion and improve city infrastructure on a massive scale.

With little more than a guarantee from the Austin City Council, voters overwhelmingly approved a $720-million mobility-focused bond in 2016. Council voted Thursday to approve a construction plan for some of those projects, which will build out new bike lanes, sidewalks and road redesigns.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The MoPac express lanes opened in 2017, years behind schedule, to offer a faster option for drivers willing to pay a toll. But what if you pay and the lane is no faster – or even slower – than the main lanes? 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Sometimes solving a problem creates a problem.

The city’s transportation department hosted a roundtable this morning to avoid that very maxim as it relates Austin’s rollout of dockless bikes – those smartphone-enabled rental bikes that have cropped up (and all over) cities like Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Dallas.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Researchers from UT Austin's Urban Information Lab have created an interactive map that overlays research on so-called transit deserts to pinpoint which Austin neighborhoods have the least access to public transportation compared to demand.

Junfeng Jiao, lead researcher on the project, says the calculus is more than simply measuring the distance between your front door and a bus stop.

Capital Metro

Capital Metro has revealed the latest designs for a new downtown MetroRail station. Updates include three new railway tracks and five new trains, which will accommodate more traffic than the current station’s single track and train. 

Jeff Heimsath for KUT

Austin is (again) flirting with the idea of a light-rail system, it seems.

A tweet has given us a glimpse at Cap Metro’s plans to build out a light-rail system in Austin that would cost anywhere between $1.4 and $2.1 billion. The tweet appeared to show a Project Connect-branded outline of a route that would run along a 12-mile stretch, connecting Guadalupe Street and Lamar Boulevard north to Highway 183, with room for more lines.

TxDOT

The biggest roundabout in Austin will open at the intersection of the southbound frontage of I-35 and 51st Street on Sunday. But first TxDOT will have to close it completely for a few days to put the finishing touches on it – which means getting rid some of the intersection’s main features.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This post has been updated to reflect the Austin City Council's approval of the pilot program.

Nobody wants to be the withholding stepparent.

That’s why, when dockless bike companies Ofo and Spin rolled out over SXSW last year, they put the city in a tough spot.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Interstate Highway 35 is many things to many people. It is a vital thoroughfare for commerce and shipping. It is also an economic and social barrier through much of Austin. And nearly from its construction, it has been a source of frustration for drivers stuck in its traffic. I-35 has inspired a number of questions and even legends about its design and those who made it.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez

Bike Austin is offering free cycling classes to the public starting next week, thanks to a new partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation.

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

The Capital Metro Board of Directors has chosen Randy Clarke to replace Linda Watson as its next president and CEO.

Clarke comes to Cap Metro from the American Public Transportation Association, where he had been vice president of operations and member services since May 2016. Before that, he was director of security for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Central Texas until 7 p.m. Patchy drizzle is creating slick spots on roadways. The Austin-Travis County Traffic Report Page showed dozens of incidents as of 6 p.m.

Texas Advanced Computing Center

A new partnership between UT-Austin and the city plans to automate the data-gathering process for traffic studies, while making the results immediately available.

In theory, it's simple: Take the video from the city's 360 traffic cameras and make a computer count all the bikes and buses and pedestrians and cars on a given roadway.

In reality, it's not that simple.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The City of Austin has unveiled its pitch to revamp Guadalupe Street near UT campus in a plan that favors bike- and bus-minded improvements.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Traffic is terrible.

City and state officials are really good at counting cars to see how terrible traffic is and how it got that way, but that sort of data collection doesn’t exist for bike and pedestrian traffic. New research hopes to change that.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Priscilla Jove, 19, sat cross-legged on a bench at a bus stop on the corner of West Oltorf Street and South Lamar Boulevard. A student at Austin Community College, Jove was heading to a biology study session. She said she’s not just curious about the human body, but also human behavior, and that's one reason she rides the bus.

“All different sorts of people ride the bus,” she said. “It’s a great way to learn about them, to see how they behave, how they interact with other people.”

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Sometimes, people are the worst. If you want proof of that, sit in traffic.

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

The Capital Metro board has approved a major overhaul of its bus system, affecting more than half of all routes in the area. The vote was 6 to 2.

While some buses will run more often, other routes will be eliminated. The changes will go into effect June 3. 

City of Austin

The city has eyes all over Austin – traffic cameras that monitor vehicles and events – and you can peer through these cameras to check out what's happening around town.

Paul Cochrum/Flickr

Federal regulators are calling for stricter requirements to fly hot air balloons after a crash near Lockhart last year that killed all 16 people aboard.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday released findings and recommendations of its investigation into the July 30 accident in which a balloon operated by the Heart of Texas Balloon Ride company struck high-voltage power lines about 30 miles south of Austin.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Car2go is dropping the signature blue and white, logoed Smart cars from its fleet. Customers in Austin will be able to rent only Mercedes-Benz cars and SUVs when using the service in December.

Austin is one step closer to being at the center of the world's first Hyperloop transportation system.

The technology — the brainchild of SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk — is envisioned as passenger pods traveling at speeds up to 700 miles per hour through a low-pressure tube. So far, only a short test track has been constructed.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

B-cycle, Austin’s bike-share system, recently added three new stations as part of an 18-station expansion over the next 18 months. All the new stations will be close to or in downtown, adding to the company’s existing 51 docks.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Anyone who has driven or taken a bus down Guadalupe Street near UT-Austin knows how bumpy the ride can be.

Though the Drag was repaved just a few years ago, its bus lanes are already marred with potholes. Now, the city has begun making repairs to those lanes.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Bobak Tehrany and I meet in the parking garage at the Chase Building downtown. He works with the engineering consulting company Stantec, whose clients include the Texas Department of Transportation. It’s been a long day, and he’s ready to make the commute home.

“You know, it’s funny because you hear people calling it SlowPac all the time,” he says.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro is moving ahead with plans to build a signature station at the MetroRail stop near the Austin Convention Center. The $22 million project will include upgrades to shade passengers waiting at the Fourth Street commuter train stop. 

That got us wondering about the 2,649 CapMetro bus stops that may not be getting this kind of attention. Anyone who has ever waited for the bus in the summer knows it can be a torturous experience. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

There is plenty of parking in downtown Austin, but often those spaces aren’t available, according to a parking study released Wednesday by the nonprofit Downtown Austin Alliance. 

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