Subway art

Image by Transit Authority Figures

You may have seen the cool subway poster art created and sold by Transit Authority Figures. Clever.

KUT News interviewed Capital Metro’s VP of Planning Todd Hemingson about transit and the feasibility/challenges of creating a real subway system for Austin.

Of course, a main barrier is the cost to build it. Here’s what Todd told the journalist:

“If money were no object, if we had unlimited resources, we would do a ton of this stuff. The challenge we make every day is trying to make our system as good as it can be.

“We would love, even on a simpler scale, to run 15 minute or better bus service on every route in the system all day long. That would be a game changer in terms of making the transit system more attractive, getting more people to use it, and building ridership and building our public credibility and so on.

“There’s plenty of evidence that better quality service achieves much greater ridership. There’s also plenty of evidence that if you can get to this 15 minute threshold, then you’re delivering service at a level that people aren’t scheduling their life around it. They can basically walk out to the nearest stop and know that a bus is coming in the next few minutes.

“The reason we can’t do that is, again it comes back to money, but it’s also land use. Land use doesn’t support that level of service for the vast majority of our service area. There’s only a few places where the ridership warrants that level of service.

“Maybe this is a circular argument of sorts, but it’s all interrelated. If you can’t justify the service based on ridership, and you don’t have the money to provide the service regardless of ridership, what you wind up doing is either providing a lesser quality of service that matches the demand, or you constrict your service and only operate in very few places.”

Check out the transcript of the full interview on KUT News.