What Now for Austin Rail?

Now that the Capital Metro Red Line is coming closer to completion and the initiation of operations, what is rail in Austin's future? I see several very distinct possibilities.

  • We do as Austin transit-man M1EK proposes, and get rid of the DMU commuter rail system while we can, and replace it with (maybe) a scaled down version of the 2000 light rail plan, which would've hit more densely populated areas.

  • Keep the commuter rail, and add a light rail/streetcar line which could possibly connect up to the Mueller redevelopment, down along San Jacinto, through Riverside, and all the way to Bergstrom, as recommended by Brewster McCracken and ROMA (here)

  • Do nothing, and keep the commuter rail and the requisite shuttle-buses.

I for one, think that either the first or second are the best options, and that the second and third are the most likely; following my logic, I'd say that the second option, if the line was truly light rail, in separate right-of-way, would be the best possible option. Just cross your fingers on this one Austin...


  1. Assuming the commuter rail gets greater than zero riders - and it will - then the first is obviously not going to happen. The second is very plausible though it might not happen for 10 years, and maybe not in an ideal way. The more I hear about alternatives, the more mad I get at the oh-so-close results of the 2000 light rail election. That just wasn't a happy election day for any of us, now, was it.

  2. #1 is what should happen; #2 is the best that can happen; but it's not very likely. It's going to be hard to sell reserved-guideway rail on Guadalupe and Lamar (has to take away car lanes to do so) that only carries a small fraction of what 2000's proposal would have.

  3. I should have said that #2 as planned by ROMA can happen; but extending that line up Guadalupe where it needs to go is a much harder sell. I confused your post with somebody else on skyscraperpage arguing we could still run LRT up Guadalupe.

  4. I wasn't active in transit affairs in 2000 (I was 9), but I wish I could've been, and maybe have mobilized more people in Leander to vote for it.

    Mike, I sure do hope that #2, with separate ROW all the way happens, as that's going to be the only thing that actually generates any results. What do you think of the extension to Bergstrom?

    I think it'd be really awesome if they routed the "streetcar" down the Speedway pedestrian mall in UT. Wouldn't have to worry about car traffic, and it could help transform Speedway into a much nicer area. I still think it should keep its name though, awesome name.


You're invited to comment on my blogging!