Yesterday, the Connections 2025 team presented a project update to our board of directors at a special work session. Check out the presentation at connections2025.org.
As we’ve been talking about tweaks and tunes to specific areas in the Draft Transit Plan, we wanted to take the time to talk about the overall vision for Connections 2025. This roadmap is not a series of routes, as we describe service today, but rather a full network designed together to benefit our riders. Frequent and connected.
Last month, we highlighted four areas (Steck/Mesa, Tarrytown, Southwest Austin, and Bee Cave Road/Walsh Tarlton) in our Draft Transit Plan proposal we’ve revisited based on community feedback. These are areas in our network where we don’t see the ridership demand to justify running a full-sized bus in areas where passenger subsidies are 4-5 times our system average. Our team has developed this new concept, “Innovation Zones” as an option for providing alternative transportation service in areas where we are recommending to eliminate or consolidate bus service in the Connections 2025 plan. “Innovation Zones” would be pilot areas where we’d operate using new services, like: flex routes, transportation network companies (TNCs), micro-transit, vanpools, carshare or destination shuttles. We haven’t ironed out all the details yet, but will continue developing these “Innovation Zones” with input from our community.
Phasing and Implementation Plan
The Connections 2025 team is proposing major changes to be implemented as soon as possible, with the Frequent Network kicking-off in Fiscal Year 2018 – this is major. It means there would be very real, significant route improvements on the ground somewhere between October 2017 and September 2018. In FY 2019, we propose putting those “Innovation Zones” in place. FY 2020-2025 would be the implementation of longer-term projects including the two new MetroRapid routes, increased MetroRail frequency, additional Park & Ride capacity and transit service along IH-35.
The board will convene in January for an additional work session prior to taking a final vote on the Connections 2025 Transit Plan.
Will the changes happen overnight? No, the Plan would serve as the road map for our service changes over the next five years. Following the board approval of the overall Plan, we’d host additional community outreach and would need subsequent board approval for all individual route changes prior to implementation.