Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Austin Transit Partnership hosts open house at UT, talks public transportation plans

Naina Srivastava
A community member talks to an Austin Transit Partnership staff member at the partnership’s open house on Thursday.

The Austin Transit Partnership held an open house at UT Thursday afternoon for students to learn more about the beginning phases of the Austin Light Rail implementation and efforts to secure federal support.

Members of the University community intermittently came through the open house and asked questions to the Partnership staff. They also relayed feedback about the current plans so that the final product best represents community interests.

The Austin Light Rail is a planned electric train system that will support and connect transportation while meeting network commands, according to the transit plan

In November 2020, Austin voters approved a referendum to provide a dedicated revenue stream to fund investments in Project Connect, a program of transit improvements, including Austin Light Rail. 

Since its initial launch, the plan has been updated to reflect new design developments and gather new data for stations. The open house served as a place for the Partnership to communicate the changes and gather feedback from University students.

The Austin Transit Partnership is responsible for designing and constructing the light rail system and securing an estimated 50% of federal funding for the project, according to Jennifer Pyne, the Partnership’s executive vice president for planning community and federal programs. The light rail will serve as a more affordable, accessible way for Austinites to travel around the city. 

“Having more people living in central Austin and making sure that they’re able to connect to the places where they need and want to go … and to have a reliable way to get around,” Pyne said. “Some people don’t have a car, maybe some people opt to not have a car and (the light rail) would really enable that. … Also, from the climate change standpoint, to have options where you don’t have to drive for every single trip.”

Lindsay Wood, the Partnership’s executive vice president of engineering and construction, oversees the design, construction and planning of the light rail. She said the Partnership is scoping and developing survey data from communities around Austin about possible future implementations. 

“We’re studying how we can connect people through transit to opportunities to jobs and major employment centers, to affordable housing, to health care, to education,” Wood said. “There’s multiple schools along the line including UT, but many others as well. Connecting people to each other is an important aspect of the system.”

The Partnership will hold multiple open houses for the public to attend. Wood and Pyne said they hope to gather data and opinions from students to ensure they have a say in the designs.

Isabel Webb Carey, a Plan II senior, attended the open house. She attended because she said she thinks Austin is a “car-dependent city” that needs more accessible transit. 

“For students like myself who don’t have cars here, or for people who can’t afford to be driving every day, (not having a car) significantly detracts from the quality of life we’re able to have,” Carey said. “Getting people involved in these conversations (is important). Talking to them about their fears (and) anxieties … because holding a false sense of security that it will be okay to keep expanding freeways and sitting in cars (won’t work). It’s going to be unlivable for the planet, cities (and) life going forward.”

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