Austin’s Project Connect Transit Plan Drastically Reduced

The details of drastic reductions to the proposed building program for Austin’s Project Connect long-range transit plan are now open for public comment.

2 minute read

March 23, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Electric bus in Austin, Texas

Roschetzky Photography / Electric bus in Austin, Texas

The Austin Transit Partnership (ATP), the government corporation empowered to finance and develop the Project Connect long-term transit plan in Austin has released a proposed revision of the plan, as promised after cost increases forced reductions to the plan.

Nathan Bernier reports for KUT on the revisions, which were leaked earlier this month, but made public on Tuesday, March 21 at a public meeting at the Austin Public Library.

ATP has spent months paring down Project Connect in preparation for the release this week. After seeing the costs for the Project Connect program balloon from an estimated $5.8 billion to $10.3 billion, the plan would now spend less than $5 billion, “including a whopping 40% cost contingency,” reports Bernier.

The ATP hopes a $3.5 billion cushion “will make its pitch more appealing to the federal government,” which is expected to fund up top half of the cost included in the Project Connect program.

The source article, linked below, includes details for each of the five remaining alternatives—all of which represent a significant reduction from the original plan Austin voters approved in the November 2020 election. The original plan called for two new light rail lines, four new rapid bus routes, and a new commuter rail line, as well as expanded service on the city’s existing commuter rail route, in addition to anti-displacement measures and on-demand transit shuttles.

Additional challenges could still await Project Connect if conservative members of the Texas State Legislature manage to approve a proposed bill that would limit ATP’s powers to finance projects. “The Austin Transit Partnership will collect public feedback over the next six weeks,” according to Bernier.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023 in KUT

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