Capital Metro’s service plan, Connections 2025, is off and running! Along with our consultant team, we are studying all aspects of our service area and transit routes, gathering valuable input from the community. In February, we hosted many open houses and one of the top questions we were asked was, “What about rail?”
Projects like Connections 2025 are known in the transit industry as “Comprehensive Operational Analyses,” or COAs. Most major transit agencies take on COAs about every five or ten years. COAs provide detailed, “ready-to-go” recommendations which are fully funded for quick implementation within one to five years. As such, they typically focus on bus networks, which can be adjusted and improved faster and at a lower cost than more significant infrastructure projects like rail. That is not to say rail is not considered a long-term option, it is simply more complex, expensive and takes more time to make operational. We’ll explain more below.
At the conclusion of our Connections 2025 study, we fully anticipate having real, tangible changes rolling out in 2017. Think of this plan as being focused on improving and reinventing existing service. We are looking at identifying new routes and services based on our system-wide evaluation.
That’s not to say that Connections 2025 won’t consider big ideas or look at the possibility of new infrastructure, but the majority of the plan will be designed for implementation within the next ten years, with real projects that can be implemented under five years, given tools and funding that are already available to Capital Metro.
COA recommendations that are “ready-to-go” differ from other larger-scale, longer-term plans for our region which may depend on yet-unidentified funding sources. Major investments like new rail corridors require longer timeframes for environmental review (NEPA) and construction, as well as considerable up-front and continued costs.
With that said, we’d like to introduce Project Connect Central Corridor. This project is intended to create a road map for the planning and implementation of high-capacity transit improvements, which could include rail. In general, efforts will consist of defining modes, services and facility improvements in support of mobility, connectivity, economic development, livability and sustainability for downtown Austin, and also potential funding sources. Read more about that study in our previous blog post.
We’ll coordinate our efforts to make sure the Connections 2025 recommendations are compatible with Project Connect and other transportation plans.
For more information, visit Connections2025.org or call 512-369-6000.