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Groups Say Urban Rail Plan Doesn't Meet Austin's Needs

Updated: Thursday, July 31 2014, 02:54 PM CDT

For stretching only a few miles the Project Connect urban rail proposal has flared more tempers than you might see from people sitting in Austin's growing gridlock.

"Project Connect's own numbers show that the operating costs for the line will be higher than the current busses that serve the same area," said Brad Absalom with AURA.

While the group supports the concept of light rail, they fear ridership numbers won't support operating costs.

Another argument they make is the line could draw funds away from an already struggling bus system. They fear it could make Austin less affordable and puts more people into their cars, increasing congestion. 

"I don't think we need to lose any service that we currently have," said Absalom. "I think it's all very vital and we need to find a way to expand service."

An argument from another group is that Capital Metro's red line already runs through the Highland Mall area, and doubling up is a waste of money.

Andrew Clements with Our Rail, a political action committee, also supports light rail, just not the proposed route.

"We've known since 1974 that light rail should go up Guadalupe and Lamar through the central part of the city first, and get a very successful first line -- and then talk about expansion of the system," said Clements.

That idea was shot down back in 2000, but Clements believes it's still the way to move forward. He feels Project Connect could threaten the future of light rail in Austin.

"Not being able to expand the system either because there's not money available, or the citizens recognizing the first line was not the most successful that could have been built," said Clements.

Most of the arguments have nothing to do with the amount of money proposed.

Both groups just want the dollars spent on solutions they believe will actually help in the future.

For more information on both groups:

AURA: http://aura-atx.org/

Our Rail: http://ourrail.org/

By Adam Racusin

Groups Say Urban Rail Plan Doesn't Meet Austin's Needs


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