Transportation

Transportation
2:37 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Why is Project Connect Handing Out This Inaccurate Urban Rail Map?

Project Connect handed out about 200 of these flyers over the weekend. But they didn't show what they claimed.
Credit Project Connect

Disclosure: Project Connect is a sponsor of KUT. 

Update: Project Connect has issued a new flyer. Scroll to the bottom of this post to read it. 

Original story: If you were out and about in Austin this weekend, you may have met someone from the outreach team of Project Connect, a multi-agency group working on mass transit options for the region. In an effort to promote a series of meetings regarding an urban rail proposal that will likely end up before voters this fall, the outreach team was passing out flyers showing the proposed first rail line in Hyde Park. But those flyers don’t accurately show what that proposed line is, and now one neighborhood advocate is accusing Project Connect of misleading the public.

A few hundred Austinites got a flyer (above) from a Project Connect outreach team this weekend showing its overall long-term transit vision for the city. At the bottom right corner of the flyer, a big orange bubble screams, “Let’s Get Moving!” The flyer shows rail to the airport, rail along the major corridors of Lamar and Congress, and along the MoPac freeway. In essence, rail lines that have the potential to replace lots of cars on the road. The map is titled "Proposed First Line of Urban Rail." There is no legend indicating what the various routes depicted are. 

But if you were to actually pass out an accurate map of the proposed first line that voters may decide on this fall – which in its latest iteration would run along East Riverside, through downtown and tunneling under and then paralleling a portion of the existing MetroRail line up to Highland Mall – it would actually look very different.

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Transportation
3:44 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Use a Self-Driving Car With No Wheel? Google Bets You Will

A "very early version" Google's prototype vehicle. The self-driving car doesn't include a steering wheel.
Google

Google is taking the wheel – taking it literally out of the car.

The company is set to launch a test fleet of driverless cars in the near future. It's completely reimagining the automobile, removing fundamental features like the gas pedal and the steering wheel. The work raises a fundamental question: is there a market for such automated vehicles?

The Texas Standard’s David Brown spoke with University of Texas engineering professor Kara Kockelman, who has analyzed how driverless cars may impact our society. “We’re all incredibly busy, we’d love to have that time to be getting things done … legally … in our vehicle,” she says.

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Interstate 35
4:20 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

TxDOT Backs Plans to Bury I-35 – Just Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting

A TxDOT rendering of a sunk and capped I-35 in downtown Austin. TxDOT is currently focused on less ambitious I-35 fixes, like improving ramps.
TxDOT/Mobility35

Sorry, Austin – there's no money to improve the Interstate 35 corridor. At least not enough for a full face-lift, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

But as money becomes available, TxDOT says it will continue working on portions of the highway. At a media workshop today, the state agency said that by the end of the year it should move from the planning stages of I-35 improvements and into studying their environmental impact. That should take about two years. And then – if funding is available – it will be time to start implementing changes.

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MetroRapid
9:57 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Austin's Rapid Bus Struggles After a Slow Start

Capital Metro's new line was marketed as a Bus Rapid Transit system, but the MetroRapid buses still need tinkering to meet those requirements.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

From StateImpact Texas:

Standing on Guadalupe Street in Austin facing the tower at the University of Texas, 26-year-old Emily Mandell waits at the bus stop with a scowl on her face. She’s not looking forward to this ride.

“It’s the same as sitting in traffic, but now you’re sitting in traffic stopping at a lot of places with a lot of other people,” Mandell says.

Along Guadalupe and Lavaca, two major north-south arteries through downtown Austin, long, bendy buses labeled “MetroRapid” have recently joined the chaos that is Austin traffic. The city of Austin’s transportation agency, Capital Metro, rolled out this new line in January* in an effort to get more people out of cars and using public transportation. But the rollout hasn't gone as expected, calling into question how the agency will handle expanding transportation to meet the fast-growing city's needs.

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Transportation
7:12 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

This Urban Rail Supporter Wants You to Reject Austin's Current Proposal

A rendering of Project Connect's vision for urban rail in Austin.
Project Connect

Some die-hard public transit supporters say Austin’s 9.5 mile, $1.38 billion urban rail proposal is misguided, too expensive, and follows a poorly traveled route

"Why would a city our size put in something that is so pricey on a very weak route?" former Capital Metro board vice president Lyndon Henry says. "This is insane."

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Pedestrian Safety Study
2:14 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Report: Austin's One of the Country's Most Dangerous Areas for Pedestrians

Austin-Round Rock ranks 24th out of the 51 most dangerous metro areas in a new nationwide report released today.
flickr.com/keoni101

Austin is the country's 24th most dangerous metro area for pedestrians, according to a new report.

"Dangerous by Design 2014" [PDF], a study from the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America, examines pedestrian deaths in the country's 51 biggest metro areas.

The study factors five years of data on pedestrian deaths (2008-2012) with the percentage of area commuters that walk to work to create a Pedestrian Danger Index. The Austin-Round Rock index is 78.6, well above the national average of 52.2. The area averages 1.44 pedestrian deaths for every 100,000 residents, which is actually somewhat below the national average of 1.56. Overall, the Austin-Round Rock area had 251 pedestrian deaths from 2003 to 2012.

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Transportation
4:28 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

When it Comes To Traffic, Everything's Bigger in Texas

Everything's bigger in Texas – or so the saying goes. But after years of population growth, many are worried the Lone Star State is experiencing the hidden costs of its prosperity.

The Texas Standard's David Brown recently sat down with Wall Street Journal reporter Nathan Koppel to discuss strains on state infrastructure.

"It's great for the state, and you'd certainly rather be Texas than other parts of the country that are losing population, but it is a challenge for Texas," Koppel explains. "Just the sheer pace of the population increase has been difficult to manage, particularly for cities which are just booming. "

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Transportation
4:08 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

This is Project Connect's $1.4 Billion Proposal for Austin Urban Rail

Credit Project Connect

Austin officials unveiled plans today for the city's first urban rail line.

The 9.5 mile long line would run along East Riverside Drive and turn north near the Austin-American Statesman building, cross Lady Bird Lake via bridge, continue through downtown and the University of Texas and end at Highland Mall. The plan also calls for four park & ride areas, two each toward opposite ends of the line.  

The project cost is estimated at $1.38 billion. Officials with Project Connect, the working group of city, Capital Metro, and other regional transportation officials that made today's recommendation, say they believe the federal government would pay for half of that estimated cost.

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Transportation
11:53 am
Fri May 2, 2014

As Austin Nears Urban Rail Decision, Proof Traffic's Always Been Awful

Yes, this qualified as problem traffic on I-35 back in the 1960s.
Texas Archive of the Moving Image

Austin is inching its way towards the creation of a possible new rail line.

Later today, Project Connect, a group of regional transportation officials including the City of Austin and Capital Metro, is widely expected to unveil a proposed route for urban rail.

The announcement is a further refinement of preliminary findings tapping the East Riverside and Highland Mall regions as prime corridors for investment – a finding many Austin transit advocates found fault with. Once set for the ballot by the Austin City Council, citizens will vote on whether to approve rail funding in an election this November. 

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Bike to UT Day
2:26 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Austin Police Ticket 47 Campus-Area Cyclists on 'Bike to UT Day'

flickr.com/mirsasha

Bicyclists heading to campus this morning as part of Bike to UT Day received breakfast and the chance to win raffle prizes.

But 47 bicyclists also received something else: a ticket.

This morning, multiple Austin Police officers were seen pulling over bicyclists heading toward campus on Speedway Avenue, just south of the intersection at San Jacinto. The ticketing occurred just blocks north of Speedway Plaza, where a Bike to UT Day party was scheduled to begin at noon.  

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DWI Deaths in Austin
10:15 am
Tue April 29, 2014

After Latest Deaths, Austin Asks: How Can We Stop Drunk Driving?

The aftermath of the March 13 SXSW crash which left four dead. A group calling for expanded transportation options, ATX Safer Streets, was founded after the crash.
Ashley Park for KUT

Nationwide, drunk driving is on the decline – but you wouldn't know it living in Austin. This spring, the city has seen several high-profile deaths attributable to drunk driving.

This weekend, Kelly Noel – a well-known music fan who ran the popular ATXHispsters Twitter account – was killed by a drunk driver downtown. (The account continues to auto-tweet the latest stories from Austin news outlets, including KUT.) And in March, Rashad Owens allegedly killed and injured South by Southwest attendees when he accelerated into SXSW crowds while trying to evade police.

The morning after the SXSW killings, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said “tragedy brings opportunity. It’s an opportunity for a gut check … it's a gut check for the people involved, it’s a gut check for this community.”

 

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Transportation
1:58 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Get Ready for This Red River Street Closure That Lasts Into 2015

The Frank Erwin Center sits in the center of the stretch of Red River Street that will remain closed until 2015.
Larry D. Moore, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nv8200p

You may want to take a drive along Red River Street this weekend: it’s your last chance before the street is realigned to make way for UT-Austin's new Dell Medical School.

Starting Monday, Red River Street will be closed from Martin Luther King Boulevard to 15th Street – and it’s not scheduled to re-open until January.

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Street Closure
7:40 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Water Main Break Causes Continued Closures

Austin Water crews work on the main break at 2222 near MoPac.
twitter.com/AustinWater

Update: Some lanes remain closed on 2222 Thursday morning after a water main break Wednesday caused part of the roadway to collapse.

Eastbound 2222 is closed between Parkcrest Drive and Balcones. The westbound lanes are open – and traffic on Balcones is open.

Update (April 9, 12:13 p.m.): Austin Water crews are still working to determine the cause and location of the break. Once that is done they can determine some sort of timeline for when repairs will take place, says Austin Water's Jason Hill.

"We brought the water pressure down, so there are a number of customers with low pressure or without water – not a lot at this particular point," Hill says. "Once we get to where the break is we’ll have a better idea of what needs to happen and how many people will actually be shut out during the repair."

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Transportation
8:59 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Why Austin Taxi Drivers Can't Refuse a Ride Based on Destination

Ever been refused a ride by an Austin cab? If it was due to trip length, they broke the law.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Have you ever been denied a cab ride in Austin?

After last week's deadly crash on Red River Street, there's been calls for more and better public transportation and taxi service.

But during special events like South by Southwest, it seems like more and more Austin taxis refuse to take riders for a variety of reasons. Carlton Thomas with the City of Austin’s Parking Enterprise says the most common reason is that "drivers are not interested in taking the short trips."  

He should know, because all complaints about cab drivers come to his department.

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SXSW 2014
10:46 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Why Austin's Restricting Uber Over SXSW

Apps like Uber connect transportation users and providers – but the City of Austin says they're essentially unlicensed taxi companies.
Wikimedia Commons user Bull-Doser

South By Southwest brings a lot of things to Austin: film premieres, start-ups, newsmakers, bands, traffic and tech savvy out-of-towners.

It's that last group that might take umbrage with the city's ride-sharing policy, which outlaws apps like UberLyftSideCar and since-shuttered Austin-based Hey Ride. 

The city contends these services have unregulated – and potentially unsafe – drivers.

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SXSW 2014
6:30 am
Wed March 12, 2014

SXSW Traffic is Terrible. This Street Closure Map Might Help.

Update: Starting today, it’s going to get even tougher to get around downtown. That’s because the music portion of South by Southwest is now underway.

The City of Austin is closing off several exits from I-35 to downtown. Starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday:

  • The I-35 NB and SB exits at  Cesar Chavez will be closed.
  • The I-35 SB exit at 8th Street will be closed.
  • The I-35 NB exit at 6th Street will be closed.

Original Story (March 6, 2014): SXSW provides a great opportunity for people to see bands, films and hobnob with bigwigs in the tech industry.

But road closures in downtown Austin may pose a problem for some travelers.

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Transportation
3:35 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Cutting Down on Traffic With an App: Austin Introduces Carma Carpooling

To find fellow carpoolers, Carma users input their route and commute times and the app connects them to people in their area with similar schedules and destinations.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Disclosure: Carma is a sponsor of KUT. 

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority cut the ribbon today on a new project that could reduce traffic congestion while saving drivers money.

The project is a public-private partnership between the city and state transportation officials, the CTRMA, Texas A&M and a ride-sharing app: Carma.

Carma is based on the concept of "casual carpooling." Paul Steinberg, vice president of business operations for Carma, calls it a mutually beneficial model that affords people rides and grants drivers access to cheaper toll roads and high occupancy vehicle lanes.

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Transportation
12:29 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

How Bad Is It For Fliers Today? Latest 'Misery Map' Shows

Here's where the misery was this morning, according to FlightAware.com.
FlightAware.com

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 12:11 pm

With more than 5,000 flights into or out of the nation canceled today and hundreds more delayed because of the snow and ice storm moving up the East Coast, it's time once again to point to FlightAware.com's "Misery Map."

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Capital Metro
5:04 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Is Capital Metro's New MetroRapid Service Leaving Bus Riders Behind?

Critics say a standing-room-only 1M is a common sight since Capital Metro launched its new MetroRapid service.
Reddit user KidOmni

Disclaimer: Capital Metro is a sponsor of KUT.

Capital Metro's new MetroRapid bus service launched on Sunday. And with the new route came additional service changes some say give short-shrift to existing riders on Cap Metro's most popular lines.

MetroRapid line 801 travels from Southpark Meadows to the Tech Ridge area in North Austin. Its route through the urban core – along South Congress Avenue and Guadalupe Street – parallels Cap Metro's 1L and 1M bus lines, the routes with the highest ridership in Austin. And another route – the 101 Express – traveled largely along the same line. (Read more about service changes.)

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Transportation
7:56 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

How to Rid Roads of Ice? City and State Differ on Methods

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The city and the state cooperated to make icy roads safer for drivers today, sending out a combined 135 trucks to treat some of the 2,000 miles of roads and bridges in Austin. But when it comes to choosing how to treat the ice, Austin Public Works and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) take very different approaches. 

The city employs a reusable sand called dolomite, according to Public Works spokesperson Carolyn Perez.  She says it's better for the environment than some chemical de-icing agents.

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