Pro-Transit, Anti-Proposition 1

Why would a pragmatic progressive that wants to move Austin away from car-dependence oppose an investment in light rail? In brief, because the details of this proposal mean more sprawl and lower transit system ridership. Here is the pro-transit, anti-Proposition 1 perspective to Frequently Asked Questions about this November’s bond.

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Posted in Transportation

Rail Risks

Proposition 1 rail has much higher operating costs than bus-based alternatives, yet it will achieve essentially the same ridership as bus service. This is due to the selection of a route with ridership potential too low to take advantage of rail’s economies of scale. As a result, serving East Riverside-Highland (ER-HL) with Proposition 1 rail lowers overall system-wide ridership.

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Posted in Transportation

Let’s Go do rail like Houston!

Advocates for this November’s ‘road and rail’ Proposition 1 would like the electorate to believe the proposed light rail segment will achieve success similar to Houston’s stellar Red Line. Here are the top 3 reasons why they are wrong and why it matters.

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Source: National Transit Database. “UPT” means unlinked passenger trip (i.e. boarding). Median values for a category in bold.

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Posted in Transportation

10 bucks or 10,000 homes

A homestead exemption based on a fixed percent of home value is a regressive and ineffective affordability policy. It engenders a permanent loss of much-needed revenue for public investments. Spending directly on policies that promote abundant housing supply is an effective, progressive alternative. Said progressive alternative targets the actual problem: extraordinary assessment growth due to a lack of supply in desirable neighborhoods.

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Posted in Fiscal

Austin Identity

Municipal identification cards are a new service innovation that solve multiple problems. Several large cities successfully operate municipal ID card programs. In Austin, an ID program would use minimal resources and serve diverse constituencies.

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Posted in Muni ID

City Budget Realities

A new City budget is being debated. Here are five key points that help clarify the meaningful choices policymakers face.

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Posted in Fiscal

Better Billion

November’s urban rail and road package aims to “do something” as Austin clamors for transportation solutions. Sadly, as blog readers know, the proposal will not be effective at reducing congestion or promoting car-independence. It will, however, exhaust our reserves of political will and actual capital available for bold solutions. An alternative package is needed, one that will actually work. Below, I describe one possible set of ‘better billion’ investments.

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Posted in Development, Transportation, Water