Mobility bond 2020 : setting the precedent for the future of public transit in Austin




Posner, Olivia Madeline

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Public transportation bonds are essential for cities that hope to effectively invest in providing residents with competitive mobility options. Yet, Austin has seen little success in its attempts to directly fund the city's public transportation projects through bonds. This report analyzes news articles and research papers to understand why two public transportation bonds from 2000 and 2014 were not successfully passed in Austin, and the key opportunities the city can capitalize on to pass a public transportation mobility bond in 2020. Soon, several factors that may provide a compelling case for a successful public transit mobility bond can align. First, there will be an important presidential election in November 2020 that will draw many voters to the polls. Second, Capital Metro (Cap Metro), Austin’s public transportation provider, alongside partner consultants are actively pursuing an updated comprehensive public transportation plan called Project Connect. And third, Austin voters passed a significant $250 million bond commitment to affordable housing development in the November 2018 midterm elections. This report finds that the timing of the election, plans for Project Connect, and residents’ desire to address major problems in Austin all provide a unique opportunity for the city to propose a public transportation mobility bond in November 2020. This paper will discuss how Austin can learn from past mobility bonds and case studies in other cities that have voted on public transportation bond funding. The report will also analyze the basis for the 2020 mobility bond (Project Connect) and summarize the forthcoming decisions that will guide the next iteration of public transportation in Austin. Finally, this paper will address the misleading tendency to promote public transportation investment as a solution to congestion. The report will consider how the city has communicated development of Austin’s public transportation network and identify opportunities to target affordability as a priority.


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