AUSTIN, Texas — Two of the bus rapid transit routes Austin voters approved in November as part of Project Connect could be half paid for with federal funds.
The Expo Center and Pleasant Valley rapid bus routes would each get $17.81 and $18.28 million, respectively, which covers 50% of the expected costs, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced last week.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding would come from capital improvement grants included in President Joe Biden’s recommended budget. Pending congressional approval, the budget would take effect at the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.
“Across the country, communities are seeking to expand public transit as a way to create economic opportunity, improve safety, advance equity, reduce congestion and pollution, and lower the cost of living for their residents,” Transportation Secretary Buttigieg said in a statement.
Capital Metro (CapMetro) told voters the entirety of the Project Connect transit system, which includes two light rail lines, a downtown transit tunnel, a new rail line and more, was anticipated to receive 45% of funding for the system from the federal government. A spokesperson for the transit agency said the percentage for each part of the project could be higher or lower than that amount.
The other 50% of the costs for these two projects would be covered by City of Austin property taxes and Capital Metro sales tax.
The Expo Center 12-mile bus line is expected to run from East Austin to the University of Texas at Austin and downtown with 23 stations. This route is expected to have 11,200 daily-linked trips by 2040, according to FTA documents.
The Pleasant Valley 14-mile bus line is expected to run from the Mueller development to the Goodnight Ranch Park and Ride with 19 stations. By 2040, the route is expected to have 6,900 daily-linked trips, according to FTA documents.
Construction for both routes is expected to start this winter, according to the latest update from the Austin Transit Partnership, which is the local group overseeing the implementation of the voter-approved transit plan.
Service would begin in 2023.
Another CapMetro project is also expected to receive federal funding as part of the FY 2022 budget. The project would expand the current 803 rapid bus route further to the south and southwest, with service expected to begin in 2023, according to FTA documents.
A total of 25 projects in 12 states could be funded through the grant program.
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