AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two bus routes expected to open this summer as part of Austin’s Project Connect transportation program have been delayed two years, CapMetro officials confirmed.
Project Connect is a multi-billion-dollar program that includes expanded bus services and the construction of new light rail and regional rail lines. Two high-frequency bus transit lines, the Pleasant Valley and Expo Center routes, were expected to open this summer.
However, CapMetro CEO Dottie Watkins confirmed those will not come online until 2025. The two routes were expected to be some of the earliest projects to launch within the Project Connect program network.
On Wednesday, Watkins told KXAN the delay was due to some scope changes in the project’s pedestrian and accessibility infrastructure, along with adjustments for its all-electric bus fleets.
“These will be our first two routes that are all fully-battery electric buses,” she said. “And we learned as we started getting into the real detailed analysis that we needed to account for charging infrastructure on the routes, and we hadn’t originally planned for that.”
Now, she said crews will be installing line charging as well as electric-friendly refuel stations at CapMetro Park & Rides planned along the route.
Along with the EV-centric project adjustments, Watkins said the transit authority was adding bike and pedestrian-friendly shared-use paths and accessibility features at stations being built along the two lines.
While the main snag was the needed construction of electric bus charging infrastructure, Watkins said supply chain issues with parts have played a role.
“Many vehicle manufacturers are having difficulty getting parts and really being able to get all of the supplies necessary,” she said. “So we’ve been working closely with them, but we expect to have all the buses here in Austin by, around about the end of this calendar year.”
The Pleasant Valley MetroRapid line runs from the Berkman/Mueller area south to Goodnight Ranch in southeast Austin. It will feature optional transfers to the Blue Line light rail at Riverside Drive as well as a transfer to the Green Line regional rail at Pleasant Valley and Cesar Chavez.
Meanwhile, the Expo Center route runs from the Travis County Exposition Center off Decker Lane to Republic Square in downtown Austin. The route features several transfer options:
- Transfers to the future Gold Line light rail at Medical School, Capital East and Trinity Street stations near downtown
- Transfers to the Blue Line light rail, Red Line regional rail, Green Line regional rail and Gold Line light rail at the Convention Center/Brush Square and Congress Avenue stations downtown
- Transfers to the Blue Line light rail, Orange Line light rail and Gold Line light rail at the Republic Square station downtown