Austin Mobility Gets a Federal Funding Boost

Cap Metro, city both draw millions from bipartisan infrastructure package

Cap Metro bus at Lavaca and Seventh (Photo by John Anderson)

More transportation dollars are heading Central Texas' way courtesy of the federal government. According to a Jan. 27 news release from Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, the Austin area will receive $54 million in funding this year through the Federal Transit Admini­stration. The veteran Austin congressman said public transportation is needed to improve mobility while respecting climate change. "Transportation improvements in Texas are too often limited to pavement and the ground to pour it on," he told the Chronicle via email. "We need more sustainable ways to travel around our community."

According to Doggett, $45 million will go to Cap Metro to augment its $475 million capital improvement budget, which pays for new buses, stops, rail sidings, and the like, some of which are contributions to Project Connect. Doggett hopes those funds will accelerate the agency's transition to a fully electric fleet. There's also $1.6 million for "programs to enhance the mobility of our seniors and individuals with disabilities," he said.

Cap Metro president and CEO Dottie Wat­kins agreed that the funding will help support the agency's shifts toward sustainability. After Congress finally passed a spending bill in late December, "CapMetro and our community will receive a record amount of funding for fiscal year 2023," Watkins said in a statement. "This funding will support our fleet conversion to zero emission vehicles and allow us to continue recovering and growing services to serve our growing communities."

Doggett noted that 2021's bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has led to a 31% increase in federal funding for Cap Metro and also brought funds to other mobility agencies. The cash could also help build out Project Connect while addressing Austin's increasingly dangerous roads. "With both federal and state funding biased in favor of roadways, I will be working to get Project Connect the substantial federal resources it requires to supplement our local investments," Doggett said, pointing to his work to expand the IIJA's investment in zero-emission buses nationwide by $1.1 billion per year.

Regarding safety, the Austin Trans­port­a­tion Department announced last week that it received a $22.9 million grant as a part of IIJA's Safe Streets and Roads for All program. According to an ATD news release, that will support safety projects in over 60 locations, at least half of them in underserved communities whose residents are more likely to die on the roads. "Traffic violence is a public health crisis that affects everyone, especially poor communities. I'm thankful to the [U.S. Department of Transportation] for putting emphasis on resources where they are needed the most," Austin's other congressman, Rep. Greg Casar, said in the news release.

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Cap Metro, Lloyd Doggett, Federal Transit Administration, Dottie Watkins, Greg Casar, Austin Transportation Department, U.S. Department of Transportation, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Safe Streets and Roads for All, infrastructure, traffic, traffic fatalities

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