The city of Austin wants voters to approve a massive bond proposition this November to help fund a $7 billion transportation plan that features a downtown subway system, light rail, and more. But uncertainties around the project and its impact have left many Austinites asking whether the plan will even work.
Zach Baumer, the city’s climate change manager, informed the Urban Transportation Committee that the plan would barely move the needle in terms of congestion relief.
According to the city’s transportation modeling scenarios for 2030, Baumer said it’s not realistic to expect public transit to account for a large percentage of total transportation miles traveled, even if Capital Metro’s Project Connect vision is approved in November and built out over the next decade.
“If we fully build out Project Connect and they fully get it full of people every day all of the time, we maybe get to 5 percent of the total (vehicle miles traveled) reduced,” Baumer said. “So the challenge is that by 2030, the people still have to move around.”
If spending billions on rail won’t ease traffic congestion in a meaningful way, then what’s in it for voters?