The Road to Improvement

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 8, 2016

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for summarizing the Mobility Bond [“Where You're Going If You 'Go Big,'” News, Aug. 5]. Austin needs significant improvements in our bus system to help with congestion and give people options. It is important for affordability and equity that people can make do with fewer cars. The Mobility Talks survey found that in every district people want to increase their transit use more than any other mode. Our current bus system takes far too long and does not get people where they need to go.
    Cap Metro does not have the resources to fix it alone. The city must help by improving bus shelters and access, providing bus lanes and signals, and encouraging development along transit corridors. Unfortunately, the bond measure includes almost no money for transit. One of the few measures that it would fund, bus pullouts, is controversial because it reduces bus speeds by requiring them to pull out of traffic.
    Your article did not discuss the city's agreement to take over management of the TxDOT roads (such as N. Lamar and Airport Blvd.), or how much the city will need to pay each year to maintain those roads. As a result of that agreement, which was developed at the same time as the bond measure, additional money will go toward I-35. These are important aspects of this bond measure that have so far been kept from the public.
Susan Pantell
   [Nick Barbaro responds: There is as yet no such agreement between the city and TxDOT, nor does the bond proposal include such an agreement. In the same resolution which directed the city manager to prepare the November bond election, Council directed the city manager to work with Sen. Kirk Watson, TxDOT, Capital Metro, and others, to develop alternative funding options, "which may include … Transfer of ownership and associated maintenance responsibilities of state roads within Austin’s city limits;" among several other things. Council will have to consider any such actions in the future, independently from the bond proposal.]
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