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Our Bus System Should be Among the Best in Class

August 5, 2015

We are excited to be welcoming Jarrett Walker as our breakfast keynote speaker at our RECA Exchange on August 12. Walker is a transit consultant based out of the Northwest and author of the book (and blog) Human Transit; he’s best known in Texas for his recent work reimagining the Houston Metro system. Austin is considering a similar effort through Capital Metro’s Service Plan 2025.

At RECA we urge Capital Metro to focus on making our bus system the best in class as the transit agency plans for the future. The voters made it clear last November, whether right or wrong, that they believe urban rail is too expensive and wouldn’t serve enough Austinites. To their credit, Capital Metro is unwilling to concede to doing nothing to improve our transit options. Finding ways to expand MetroRapid — perhaps with more dedicated lanes — and increase frequencies on other routes will be paramount as Austin continues to grapple with its mobility challenges.

As real estate professionals, we have a distinct interest in transit’s relationship to development. Just as we’ve seen transit oriented development (TOD) emerge around MetroRail, development and density can also be served by frequent bus service, whether on traditional routes or MetroRapid. We’re already seeing this synergy on corridors such as South Lamar and Burnet Road, as well as in West Campus. TOD does not need a rail line to be successful. A transit system based on rubber tires will do just fine.

There is a unique balance between transit and development that requires the two to work hand in hand. For frequent service or bus rapid transit to be successful, density and potential ridership numbers are important factors. At the same time, developers often look for the opportunity of transit before committing to development. Because of this push-pull that we experience, it is paramount for the real estate community and transit agencies to continue open dialogue in planning for future growth.

We urge all of our members to participate in the August 12 RECA Exchange to hear more from Jarrett Walker on building successful bus systems and transit planning. His perspective and insights will help us understand what success looks like — for Austin’s future transit system and for future development. Learn more about Jarrett Walker’s RECA Exchange breakfast and get registered here.

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