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Cap Metro Wants Slice Of Federal Funding Pie To Help Ease Traffic Congestion

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.

“The real element that we’ve got to remember is no matter what we do, local money is not going to be enough,” Clarke said, “and we need federal resources to come to the table.”

Clarke noted that federal funding for transit projects is limited, and the process of getting that money is competitive. He said other cities have already requested a total of $4.5 billion from the government, and Cap Metro's proposed projects would have to get in line. 

“These are competitive grants,” he said. “So the pie may have gotten incrementally bigger, but the [number of] people wanting to eat the pie is bigger than ever.” 

Cap Metrohas cited high-frequency bus routes, commuter rail and light rail systems as potential options for revamping the public transit system. It also suggests more public-transit-only lanes to help move people on the region’s roadways more efficiently. 

Credit Capital Metro
Capital Metro

Board members got a look at how other cities have rolled out similarly ambitious projects, including the Dallas Area Rapid Transit program and a high-capacity transit system in Denver.

Julia Suprock is with AECOM, an engineering firm that’s working with Capital Metro on Project Connect. She said local leaders should think of projects of this scale as long-term investments.

“Not everything it going to be built at once,” she said. “That’s one of the things [we] see in these case studies, is that it took decades to roll out the full program of projects.”

Syeda Hasan is a senior editor at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @syedareports.
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