As the Austin area prepares for a wave of new transit services, it can be hard to know which entities are involved with which parts of our region’s expanding system. This explainer gives a brief overview to help you understand and get involved.
This one isn’t new – CapMetro is the regional public transportation authority that has provided public transportation to Central Texans since 1985. CapMetro currently provides more than 100 bus routes, including local, Express, rapid, and high-frequency services, as well as paratransit services, the MetroRail commuter line, vanpools, and Pickup on-demand services.
In 2020, voters approved a proposition that dedicates a portion of Austin’s property tax rate revenue to fund Project Connect, the name given to the expanded transit system that will include light rail, new MetroRapid routes and MetroExpress service, more park & ride facilities, new neighborhood circulators, and equitable transit-oriented development. CapMetro will take over responsibility for the daily operations and rider communications of Project Connect transit components as they come on line.
Austin Transit Partnership
The Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) is an independent local government corporation that CapMetro and the City of Austin formed to oversee the design, construction, and other components of Project Connect. ATP’s responsibilities include approving the grant and interlocal agreements with the City of Austin for funding anti-displacement strategies; approving financing, design, engineering, construction, real estate, and vehicle purchase contracts; approving future interlocal agreements, and providing regular updates to CapMetro and the City of Austin.
City of Austin
The City of Austin also plays a role in Project Connect. Austin City Councilmembers approved the Project Connect transit plan and ordered the election to authorize and fund the initial investment of $7.1 billion. Going forward, the City will work closely with CapMetro and the ATP to ensure full transparency of Project Connect.
The City of Austin is also creating an Equity Tool for Project Connect to direct the $300 million in anti-displacement funding to programs and projects that will benefit people most at risk and prevent displacement of those living close to transit lines.
In a nutshell:
· CapMetro is the transit agency that operates the region’s transit system and will continue operating the new components once they are built out.
· ATP is the independent group overseeing the financing, design, and construction of the Project Connect program.
· Project Connect is not an entity, but the name of the Austin transit expansion approved by voters in 2020.