CapMetro approves vision plan with electric future

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Bay Scoggin

If carried out, CapMetro’s new vision will help reduce emissions, lessen traffic and make Austin a better place to live


AUSTIN — Today, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro) Board of Directors voted to approve a vision plan for the future of Austin’s public transportation. The vision plan, part of “Project Connect,” instructs CapMetro staff to begin the process of adding several new transit services, as well as make a plan to electrify all the new routes proposed by the vision plan. Two new routes for high capacity are included in the plan, as well as multiple new routes of “bus rapid transit light”, to denote semi-dedicated right of way.

Councilwoman Ann Kitchen, who supported the resolution, told the Board, “We need a high capacity transit system that takes advantages of new technologies with the efficiencies and environmental benefits of electric vehicles.”

“The plan approved by the CapMetro Board today is a huge win for the public interest, and we applaud the agency for its leadership,” said Bay Scoggin, director of the non-profit advocacy group Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG). “Austin needs affordable options that connect our communities to jobs, schools, health care and so much more. CapMetro’s move today will help us get out of traffic, and on board with efficient, clean and healthy transportation options.”

Transportation is the nation’s number one source of greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s actions represent significant movement towards eliminating Austin’s contribution to the pollution that is causing global warming and harming people’s health. Electric buses in particular help to reduce exposure to diesel fumes, which can worsen asthma and cause cancer. While there is no timeline included in the electric bus resolution, studying what it takes to make the switch is a key first step.

The new transit services should also help alleviate Austin’s traffic problem.

“We’re finally thinking about what it takes to move people, instead of just moving cars,” said Scoggin. “As a result, we have the opportunity to increase the livability of our community and make Austin the envy of the country.”

Public engagement will continue in the early part of next year as the city now must adopt the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan.