A day late and a few thousand riders short

Earlier today, Project Connect released a methodology memo (PDF version) providing an overview of their approach to estimating ridership.  The memo raises three major concerns, which I describe below.

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Posted in Transit, Transportation | 7 Comments

CodeNEXT Pitch

Yesterday, I joined an enthusiastic group of Auranauts and other solution-minded Austinites at a CodeNEXT community input session.  There were many great pro-reform speakers. Here’s the presentation I delivered.  Let’s turn to the main points of the presentation and some additional ideas generated from discussion with defenders of the status quo.

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Posted in Development | 1 Comment

Trophy, Hammer, Lottery, Transit

The proposed urban rail route’s operational costs are too high. This will undermine the overall transit system by slowing down frequency increases for productive bus routes; it could potentially also lead to outright future cuts to system coverage. The likelihood that there could be an improvement in the outlook for urban rail operating costs is small.

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Posted in Transit, Transportation | 22 Comments

Time for plan B(RT)

The initial ridership and cost estimates are in for the proposed Grove-Highland Rail (GHR) route. And they are thoroughly disappointing. Simply put, GHR will consume an enormous amount of our transit borrowing capacity without providing mobility at a meaningfully lower rider subsidy than regular bus service.

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Posted in Transportation | 5 Comments

Peak Misinformation

Project Connect’s staff and consultants recommended against using Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in large part because of its inability to meet peak time needs as the Austin of 2030 and beyond keeps growing. However, upon closer inspection, BRT seems to have plenty of capacity to meet system needs.

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Posted in Transportation | 2 Comments

Transit productivity not political trophies

Given the underwhelming ridership and cost figures estimated for the Grove to Highland rail proposal, some proponents are deploying a “political” argument on behalf of the route. Below is a real-world specimen that captures the main points of the political argument:


Let’s address these points individually.

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Posted in Transportation | 11 Comments

Letter to Council on Project Connect’s Transparency


I sent the following note to all Council Members earlier today.

“Dear Council Members,

As of this morning, Project Connect has not publicly released the methodology or source data for the ridership and cost estimates behind its LPA recommendation.

These have been repeatedly requested by many advocates, including myself.

The failure to provide this data makes it essentially impossible to have a meaningful dialogue with your offices, the media, and organized groups.

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Posted in Transportation | 10 Comments