The feasibility of transit-oriented development at the bus rapid transit stations in Austin
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The population of Austin, Texas is projected to reach 1.6 million people by the year 2040, which doubles the city’s current population. The populations of cities in neighboring counties, Hays and Williamson, are projected to experience even more growth within the same time frame. For the first time in history, over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, so sustainable development is currently relevant for urban planning. Until 2010, Austin lacked a mass public transportation system. Currently, Capital Metro, Austin’s main public transportation operator, operates the Red Line of the MetroRail, a commuter rail system. The Red Line only serves a specific subset of the population in Austin and its northern neighbors, running from the city of Leander, through northern Austin, before its final stop in downtown Austin. Because of this, Capital Metro will begin operations on a new method of rapid mass transit: a bus rapid transit system called MetroRapid. With two lines opening in 2014, MetroRapid will function as a mass rapid public transit option for two of the busiest north-south corridors in the city. The opening of MetroRapid will provide opportunities to stimulate growth in areas focused around this transit system. Transit-oriented development can be a method of guiding Austin’s future growth that will theoretically facilitate and encourage public transit use. The benefits to such growth would be reduced congestion, less dependency on automobiles and fostering communities that are vibrant and self-sustaining. This paper defines Transit-Oriented Developments (TODs), Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and analyzes the MetroRapid stations themselves as Austin moves toward becoming a sustainable city.
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