In a city where roughly three-quarters of residents drive alone to work, it’s no surprise that drivers in Austin, Texas, spend an average of 104 hours stuck in traffic each year. One of the main reasons behind this vehicle-mania is the city’s innate car-oriented infrastructure.
That’s now posed to change though, thanks to the city recently passing two new propositions that will see it invest more than $7 billion in a new transit system and another $460 million in new pedestrian and bike-friendly roads.
Called Project Connect, Austin’s new transit plan will build a new rail system with 31 stations, four rapid bus routes, new on-demand shuttles to take people to transit stations, as well as new park-and-ride stations.
As part of the plan, the city will also reserve $300 million to ensure that residents aren’t displaced from their homes as a result of gentrification. This will be achieved by offering rent subsidies, building more affordable housing, and giving financial assistance to home buyers.
To further make the city less car-dependent, authorities will also invest millions in new bike lanes, sidewalks, urban trails, intersections that are redesigned for safety, and other pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
Austin’s mayor Steve Adler estimates that, overall, the project will take around 250,000 daily car trips off its streets “by providing people true mobility options which really don’t exist in Austin right now.”