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Regional Leaders Support Central Texas Transportation Vision


Transit industry experts say Project Connect on right path

AUSTIN, Texas – Feb. 1, 2013 – Today, after a year of collaborative work, Project Connect regional partners, under the leadership of the Transit Working Group (TWG) led by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, officially unveiled a regional high-capacity transit vision that will keep Central Texas connected. 

Express lanes on highways, existing and new rail service, and rapid transit are all components of the regional vision that, when connected to the local bus network will provide real improvements in the region’s mobility and connect cities and major activity centers throughout the region.

Adding people-moving capacity has been a key regional demand, as Central Texas has grown too fast for our transportation system to keep up. The Austin region has been crowned America’s “fastest growing” by Forbes for three consecutive years.
“The Transit Working Group analyzed a tremendous amount of data over this past year, to help us define a vision for a regional transit system to set Central Texas on a great path to move forward,” Leffingwell said. “The result is a plan that runs from Georgetown to Round Rock and Leander, takes several routes through the City of Austin and then continues on to Oak Hill and San Marcos.”

That path forward was reinforced by the results of a review of Project Connect and the Urban Rail project by an American Public Transportation Association (APTA) peer review delegation. The peer review report was released today in conjunction with a public meeting of the Transit Working Group and delegation representatives. The peer review report acknowledged the leadership of the Transit Working Group, as well as the comprehensive system plan approach that Project Connect undertakes. The review also outlined opportunities and recommendations to ensure the successful implementation of the transit vision and its projects.
In the coming weeks, Austin regional leaders will continue to meet and engage in collaborative discussion with each other and the community to execute the recommendations.

“The transit vision offers a smart, comprehensive regional network that will benefit our entire region. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the next investment to connect and enhance our regional transportation system,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson.

Project Connect will host three open house events in February to reintroduce the regional transit vision to the community. The work will be folded into the upcoming Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) 2040 transportation planning process.
  • 5 to 8 p.m.; Feb. 19; Seton Medical Center Hays; Kyle, Tex. 
  • 5 to 8 p.m.; Feb. 20; Williamson Conference Center; Round Rock, Tex. 
  • February dates TBD for Austin, Tex. and webinar

Next Steps: The Project Connect partners will work with the Transit Working Group to implement the recommendations on operation and planning for high-capacity transit, provided by the peer analysis conducted by the APTA.

The Project Connect partners also anticipate hiring an urban rail program director to facilitate planning and outreach for the next phase of high-capacity transit.
Multimedia: Download presentations and map images showing the regional transit vision, as well as the APTA peer review:
Replay video of the press conference and presentations to the Transit Working Group on-demand:
About Project Connect: Project Connect is a partnership between Central Texas transportation agencies aimed at implementing the high-capacity transit component of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization 2035 Plan. The CAMPO plan was adopted by regional government representatives in 2010, after a nine-month public outreach process involving policy makers and community stakeholders. The initial Project Connect partnership includes the City of Austin, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Lone Star Rail District and CAMPO. To implement these projects, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell has convened a group of regional stakeholders for a panel called the Transit Working Group.
About the Transit Working Group: As a committee of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), the Transit Working Group will evaluate and provide input toward a regional high capacity transit plan for Central Texas and explore how its various components work as a system to fulfill the region’s transportation and future growth needs. The 15-member group is made of regional public and private sector leaders and is chaired by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.
Transit Working Group members include:
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Chair 
John Langmore, Capital Metro Board Member
Martha Smiley, Austin Area Research Org. 
Mayor Alan McGraw, City of Round Rock
Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County 
Tom Stacy, Downtown Austin Alliance
Johnny Limon, Community Leader 
Barry McBee, UT System
Bobby Jenkins, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce 
Scott Flack, Real Estate Council of Austin
Andre Dukes, Texas Facilities Commission 
Darrel Pierce, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
Commissioner Will Conley, Hays County Commissioner 
William Pina, Bastrop County
Jesus Garza, Seton Family of Hospitals Council Member 
Bill Spelman, City of Austin
Sid Convington, Lone Star Rail Board
About the APTA Peer Review: Linda Watson, on behalf of the Project Connect partners, requested the peer review from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Leaders from five transit organizations in Salt Lake City, Charlotte, Dallas, Portland and Denver spent three days interviewing agency staff and community members, and reviewed materials to provide a set of best practices for moving forward.

Media Contacts: 
Francine Pares, Capital Metro, (512) 389-7435, (949) 244-4574 cell 
Karla Villalon, City of Austin, (512) 974-7246, (512) 922-3666 cell
Joseph Black, Lone Star Rail District, (512) 558-7368, (512) 749-2150 cell