Project Connect - the reboot

As some of you remember, Project Connect was a subset of CapMetro that did some planning and input in the 2014 Rail proposal. @rcauvin and @harren participated in a focus group back in July to form the making of this new effort.

It has been revived in the context of identifying next steps for enhancing and investing in corridors of high capacity transit which are a part of the regionally-adopted plan.

In the midst of these processes, Project Connect has reached out to a number of community stakeholder groups, and asked them to send a representative to help refine the methods and measures around those projects. I’m operating as FAN’s representative on that Community Advisory Council, and there are a few other members of FAN who are also representing community organizations that they belong to.

The duration of this committee is set for 2 years, with quarterly meetings and some interim feedback given via email to CAPMetro.

And those of you who subscribe to the lovely Austin Monitor (you should!) may have heard that this Community Advisory Committee also got an expansion of scope and membership. The entire endeavor wasn’t going officially public until January, but I’ll spill since we’ve been mostly outed.

The curent scope is being expanded to include some directives of the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) as a means to affect the city’s Strategic Mobility Plan

The new group will be called the Multimodal Community Advisory Committee (MCAC) and have the same operating guidelines (2 years & quarterly meetings). The next committee-wide meeting will be in mid January, and the newer members would have met in Dec to get caught up.

So far I’ve attended one meeting and had an ask to return feedback on some of their evaluation criteria and project scope definitions.

I’m providing links below to the feedback document I’ve turned in so far and most of the supporting digital materials. There is also a binder of printed materials that identifies a number of the naming conventions of corridors and the ongoing or previous studies associated with them. I’m working to see about getting digitized copies of these materials as many of the maps exceed the size of most standard scanners.

I’ll be sure to post recaps and updates and am happy to take some suggestions on the direction of input FAN might want to provide through the process.

Input Request Provided by A Haggerton shown in purple font *Provided prior to the conversion to the MCAC.

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I appreciate the transparency in sharing your response with the membership of FAN.

I myself attended a presentation and Q&A at the end of last year at FOHP. I wrote up the meeting and my reactions in a blog post which I encourage you all to read (link follows). If anything, I find Alysha to be too kind to the effort by Capital Metro to serve the suburbs at the expense of the city.

Project Connect 2.0: Now more than ever

At this point, efforts for Investments or Enhancements to specific routes or geographic locations haven’t been solidified. We were presented with basically all of the options ever put on the table, and the studies behind them in the first meeting. The MCAC has only been informed on and asked to provide feedback for the evaluation criteria so far. Most of the first meeting was simply setting the groundwork.

I hope that the feedback we give along the way gives CapMetro some food for thought about what it costs to serve urban versus suburban locations, in the form of money, time, and resources. I also hope they’ll get to the point of considering the diversity in population those routes could serve or hinder. For now, I’m confident we’ll have enough thoughtful participation along the way to guide those conversations. It will all depend on how much of our feedback they take into consideration.

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They made that claim to us as well. However, I found their choice to focus a lot on the grouping of routes into “commuter” versus “connector” (and “circulator”) a fairly obvious predetermination by them that they weren’t going to support a rail spine on Lamar/Guadalupe, for instance.

Likewise, they made a lot of claims about the Red Line that made it clear they would prefer to invest a lot more in that line (which is highly unproductive and likely will never achieve LRT-like productivity). And then there’s I-35 BRT; which they posit is a great idea, and we just don’t understand how it works (people will transfer in stations above the sunken I-35, you see, it’s not that people have to walk from I-35; they just have to stand above I-35 and transfer to a second (or third) bus to get to their office.

This not being my first rodeo, I found it pretty easy to get to the point with them. It’s another snow job; and I wasn’t the only one to think so (I linked Ricky Hennessey in my post; and Kevin Miller had a similar conclusion if I remember correctly).

If you’d like to follow along, we’ve got recordings of the latest MCAC meeting on our FB page:

Feel free to ask questions the next time we live stream there on FB, or post them here for more discussion.

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