Can Better Transit Get Austinites Out of Cars?

The city's ambitious transit plan will bring light rail and bus connections to more areas of the city.

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October 28, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Andrew Nourse / Flickr

Tina Bellon reports on Austin's efforts to build out their transit system and the questions surrounding potential ridership. The city plans to spend close to $20 billion on infrastructure that includes a $7.1 billion project that would connect the north, south, and east parts of the city by light rail and significantly expand bus routes. With a more reliable and comprehensive system in place, city officials hope more people will choose transit over cars to reduce traffic and pollution in the increasingly congested city.

But skeptics like Gerald Daugherty, a former Republican commissioner in Travis County, argue that Austinites won't give up their cars that easily, with only 4 percent of residents using public transit before the pandemic. Daugherty supports road-based solutions such as clean vehicles and dedicated bus lanes, in addition to road expansion like the controversial I-35 project.

Austin is also revising its zoning and land use code to encourage denser development and increase housing supply near employment and transit centers.

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