We call on Austin City Council to amend the Draft Corridor Construction Plan to dedicate transit priority lanes along the Guadalupe Corridor.
Guadalupe Street by The University of Texas, also known as "The Drag," is Austin's primary transit spine. AURA first recommended extending the downtown transit priority lanes on Guadalupe north of MLK through the Drag in 2015, when we released our Guadalupe Corridor Study, based on AURA members' on-the-ground research. We further elaborated on this call in our 2016 Transit City report, which called for the extension of transit priority lanes on Guadalupe from MLK to 38th Street.
This past November, we were pleased to see that the City's Guadalupe Corridor Plan seconded that recommendation to prioritize transit through our most productive transit spine. What's more, in November, Project Connect, our current high capacity transit planning process, released a case study for a transit line on Lamar-Guadalupe-South Congress; all of the possible scenarios along the Drag include designating right-of-way for transit. We are expecting to see the debut of Project Connect's system recommendations later this month and fully expect to see transit priority along the Drag as a central part of that plan. Also this year, a new city transportation plan, the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, will go before Council, and is expected to provide performance metrics to determine when a street should begin to offer transit priority lanes.
With so much data and so many plans calling for extended transit priority on Guadalupe, AURA was deeply disappointed to see that the Draft Corridor Construction Plan, which which will determine how the funds from the 2016 Mobility Bond are spent, does not include transit priority lanes through the Drag, other than a small contraflow section between 18th Street and MLK. At a meeting on February 6, AURA's representative on the Corridor Mobility Focus Group was told that the transit priority lanes did not score high enough for inclusion, but that if other planning processes called for them or provided funding, the plans could be re-aligned.
The exclusion of transit priority lanes on Guadalupe in the Corridor Construction Plan is inexplicable. Transit riders represent about half the people traveling through the Drag during rush hour, but take up only 10% of the space that cars do. Transit lanes would speed up tens of thousands of transit trips each day without adding delay for cars. We understand that pending the recommendations of Project Connect, it may be premature to say what configuration of transit lanes is appropriate on the Drag. Capital Metro and Project Connect should help determine the location and design of the priority lanes. Yet, it seems clear that regardless of the mode of transit recommended for Guadalupe, the need for dedicated right-of-way for transit is crystal clear.