Common Questions

Project Connect is yet another rail plan proposed by our city’s transit agency, Capital Metro. This time, CapMetro and the City of Austin are asking taxpayers for nearly $10 BILLION, 90% of which goes towards light rail. We believe this is a critical mistake and a poor investment in mobility.


Data shows transit ridership is declining both locally and nationally, and light rail is the most expensive form of public transportation in the world. Promising innovations in New Mobility technology are emerging daily that could better serve ALL of Austin, relieving traffic congestion and expanding transportation options for everyone.


Light rail will be an utterly obsolete transportation mode by 2040, Project Connect’s target date. We need to invest in the future, not the past.

Numerous reports show light rail doesn’t significantly affect traffic congestion. Like any solution for roadway congestion, it is subject to induced demand.

No empirical evidence exists to demonstrate Project Connect would have any positive impact on climate change. Its minuscule contribution would be impossible to measure.

Based on the information provided by CapMetro’s LA-based consultants, the rail lines will cost over $225M per mile to construct. The annual maintenance & operation costs are projected to be over $220M per year.

Using standard bond funding calculations, Project Connect will increase taxes on the average-priced property over $2,800/year to fund and operate.

A property tax rate hike will be the primary funding source for Project Connect. These taxes will significantly increase monthly rent, raise property tax bills, and worsen affordability in our city.

An important unseen cost: given Project Connect’s unprecedented price tag, means little to no funding will be available for other transportation investments for generations to come.

Most of it. Based on CapMetro’s presentation documents, $8.7 of the $9.8 Billion will go to fund rail. In fact, we support the non-rail portions of Project Connect that enhance our bus network and the shift towards electrification. These improvements cost only $700 million according to CapMetro.

Many doubts surround the Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant program. The federal government is in a fiscal crisis with record deficit and debt; additional federal borrowing may be needed to stabilize our economy.

The grant program funding expires in September, the grants are competitive, many approved grants are ahead of us (enough to consume the traditional appropriation for over 10 years), and over $100B is needed fix existing rail systems to reach a basic “state of good repair” status. Without formal commitment or guarantee, the federal funding is speculative and should not be factored in the cost estimates.

Without the federal funds, Austin taxpayers will be responsible for the entire amount.

CapMetro is dependent on sales tax revenue from Austin citizens. Based on the 2020 budget, they will spend over $403 million dollars this year, and only recover about $22.5 million from fares (~5.5%).

Given the current crisis, sales tax revenues are in rapid decline and are suffering greatly. The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated public transit ridership and fare revenue.

The likelihood is high. We are in a time of rapid innovation in mobility and technological change. The New Mobility (shared mobility, micro-mobility, micro-transit, Mobility-as-a-Service, V2X-connected vehicles, and autonomous vehicles) offer vastly superior on-demand, doorstep-to-destination services that make fixed-route/fixed-schedule systems dinosaurs.

Project Connect is a regressive plan that lacks vision and awareness of the transit evolution.

Electric light rail technology was invented and implemented in the 1800’s. This old technology is limited to a fixed route and fixed schedule, meaning you’re limited to “where it goes” and “when it goes.”

Today we have ever-expanding mobility options unconstrained by those limitations. Distributed, anywhere-to-anywhere-anytime mobility, coordinated by artificial intelligence, sensor technology, and connectivity is the 21st century ‘New Mobility‘.  In addition to the vastly improved convenience and time savings, the ‘New Mobility’ doesn’t require huge debt and taxes.  It’s a better way forward.

Light rail speeds vary based on its operating environment. Urban operation reduces speeds significantly over lower density areas, largely a function of distance between stops. Loading and unloading greatly degrades light rail average speed. Light rail system speed generally varies between 12 – 20 mph.

Public transit use in Austin is relatively small, at less than 4% for commuters – and much less for other travel. Ambitious projections to promote these system are rarely achieved.

“[CapMetro] promised 17,000 daily trips on the Red Line by 2025. Yet eight years after it opened in 2010 (past due and over budget), the service is stuck at just over 3,000 weekday trips.” – Austin Monthly

Based on the projected mobility in our community, the share of regional trip demand served by CapMetro will not be significantly greater than it is today – even with Project Connect.

Even if the rail lines meet their unrealistic ridership projections (CapMetro projects leaps in ridership that have never been achieved by any other city in the country), the total contribution of Project Connect light rail to regional transportation demand will only be around 1%.

We’ve got a bold “New Mobility” vision, click here.

"More than half of the car trips taken annually in the United States cover less than five miles, making those journeys open to short-range alternative modes such as e-scooters and bikes"

— Deloitte Insights