AM Update
8:03 am
Wed May 2, 2012

AM Update: Tuition Rising at UT, A&M, Cameras Fail in Train Crash, Help Decide Bond Spending Tonight

Tuition Going Up at UT, Texas A&M

Tuition at schools in the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems could have their tuition raised this week.

The University of Texas System regents will meet today to consider increasing rates (page 37 of agenda) at all nine of its campuses over the next two years. If the recommendations are approved, tuition for in-state residents at UT Austin would increase 2.6 percent annually for two years. Out-of-state tuition would increase 3.6 percent. The raise in tuition would raise an estimated $25 million. Rates at Texas A&M's main campus in College Station would not go up (page 14), but all other A&M campuses would see a ten dollar per credit hour increase for undergraduate classes.

The Texas regents meet today and Thursday. Texas A&M regents meet Thursday and Friday.

Cameras on MetroRail Train Failed

Monday's fatal collision between a MetroRail train and a vehicle driven by Jeremy Louis Barta marked the third Cap Metro fatality since January 30 of this year. To piece together what happened, investigators have tried to pull images from the train's 16 cameras.  But according to Cap Metro officials, the train's camera system malfunctioned. 

According to Cap Metro spokeswoman Erica McKewen, the camera's failed around 6:30 a.m. on Monday.  "We're working with the manufacturer right now to find out exactly what happened, and they're making this their top priority," said McKewen.

The accident occurred at 7:40 a.m.

Until the manufacturer is able to recover any recordings, Austin police are now relying on the train's engineer (who's name has not been released) and the onboard data recorder, which tracks speed and other mechanical details, to conduct their investigation.

At 9 a.m. this morning, Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez will announce the creation of a Transit Safety Task Force, designed to address and prevent fatalities like this one. According to a press release from Martinez' office, the task force would "likely be made up of representatives from Capital Metro, the City of Austin Transportation Department, Austin Police Department, Texas Department of Transportation, Alliance for Public Transportation, Public Safety Commission and other related stakeholders."

"We've experienced several tragic accidents in the past few months that possibly could have been avoided," said Martinez in his release. "We need to let folks know how to interact with buses, trains and pedestrians."

You Decide Which City Projects to Fund

Austin’s Bond Election Advisory Task Force wants to hear from you about what projects should be funded in November’s bond package.

The task force has cut down the list of proposed projects from $1.5 billion dollars to $650 million dollars. But they need to shrink it down even more. Right now, the recommended projects include $110 million dollars for a program to create and maintain housing affordability, $40 million dollars for improvements to I-35, and $15 million dollars for a new North West Substation for Austin Police.

The task force has scheduled public forums tonight and tomorrow starting at 6:30 p.m. Tonight’s meeting is at Akins High School, 10701 South 1st St. Tomorrow’s meeting is at Lanier High School.