Texas Legislation Would Add More Roadblocks for Transit Funding in Austin

A former Austin city councilmember, now at the Texas State Legislature, is trying to make it harder for Austin Transit Partnership to borrow money to fund Project Connect, the Austin region’s big, ambitious transit investment plan.

2 minute read

March 20, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A bright red traffic lane reads “Bus Only.”

Phillip Arno Photography / Shutterstock

Project Connect, Austin’s plan to transform public transit in the region, is facing a new obstacle in the Texas State legislature. According to an article by Nathan Bernier for KUT, new legislation under consideration at the state legislature would limit the ability of the Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) to borrow money.

“The proposals — House Bill 3899 and Senate Bill 1791 — would force the ATP to hold a citywide election before borrowing large amounts of money to pay for the expensive upfront costs of building the light-rail system. ATP estimates it would need to borrow up to $2.5 billion and plans to repay the money with its existing stream of tax revenue,” reports Bernier.The bill was written by Republican state Rep. Ellen Troxclair, a former Austin City Council. Rep. Troxclair is quoted in the article saying the legislation will ensure transperancy for the Project Connect funding process.

The report about the new legislation comes just a few days before ATP is expected to announce proposals for scaling back the planned project scope of Project Connect, due to cost overruns associated with engineering challenges, inflation, and labor shortages.  The original plan would have added two new light rail lines, four new rapid bus routes, and a new commuter rail line. Project Connect also called for expanded service on the Red Line, the city’s only existing rail transit route and add new on-demand transit capacity.

The article suggests that if passed, the legislation could cost Austin when it goes for federal funding in competitive grant processes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in KUT

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

The Basilica of St. Joseph in San Jose, California.

Faith-Based Housing Movement Grows

More churches and municipalities are saying ‘Yes in God’s Backyard.’

45 minutes ago - Vox

Close-up of red and white BUS LANE sign painted in street lane.

Why BRT Can Benefit Cities More Than Rail

Bus rapid transit lines offer a less expensive, quicker-build alternative to rail that can bring other infrastructure improvements with it.

1 hour ago - Governing

Two-story homes on residential street in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

British Columbia Cracks Down on Short-Term Rentals

Provincial leaders say the new rules could open up as many as 19,000 units for long-term rental.

June 20 - CTV

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.