Dedicated lanes for CapMetro vehicles proposed for major Austin roads

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Capital Metro says its long-term vision offers a solution for buses and cars sharing the same lanes, with drivers often waiting for a bus to load and unload passengers.

Capital Metro’s Project Connect wants to implement “dedicated pathways,” which would mean setting aside space on a busy road for public transportation, so you don’t have to sit behind a bus that’s stopping every couple of blocks to pick up passengers. 

Patrick Lewis, who uses the CapMetro bus system, says the buses he rides on often get stuck in traffic, especially on busier roads like Riverside Drive. “With so many people moving here every week, it’s worse and worse,” Lewis said.

The agency hopes “Autonomous Rapid Transit” will solve that problem. 

Randy Clarke, president and CEO of CapMetro, said, “There’s no question the first step is dedicated pathways.”

The dedicated pathways would be for electric vehicles in their own lane instead of traveling in the same lane every other car.

“We know that with a dedicated lane, the lights sync. We’re getting signal priority through those lanes. Anywhere that’s done, anywhere in the world, that’s where transit service works the best,” Clarke said.

CapMetro’s long-term vision puts the Riverside Corridor, as well as the North Lamar and South Congress corridors as good candidates for dedicated pathways. 

But right now it’s just a proposal. So some wonder just how long it’ll take to actually build these and alleviate traffic.

“Whatever they’re doing now, they said that like 10-15 years ago,” Lewis said.

Project Connect also proposes lines going out to Leander, Manor, down south to Slaughter Lane and McKinney Falls. 

Those may use light rails or rapid bus systems.

A closer look at CapMetro’s two major autonomous rapid transit routes with dedicated pathways included in Project Connect shows the blue line would connect the city’s core with the airport, while an orange line would run along Lamar Boulevard.

The agency tested two different self-driving shuttles over the summer with attendants on board. 

Once it decides which kind it wants to use, it will receive six of them for a year-long pilot run that will shuttle people around downtown Austin for free. 

Q&A with CapMetro CEO Randy Clarke

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