Capital Metro Calls on Federal Partners for the Future of Transit in Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) – As the City of Austin and Capital Metro host a state and federal transportation conference this week, the transportation authority stresses the importance of federal collaboration and funding in transportation efforts. in common in the city.

Randy Clarke, president and CEO of CapMetro, said a critical component of Austin’s success as a city is its ability to meet the transportation demands of a growing population. He noted the passage of the bipartisan federal infrastructure bill in November as a key indicator that a renewed focus on public transit improvements is essential moving forward.

“We’re going to need a huge amount of infrastructure growth to handle the growth in population and economic opportunity that’s happening here,” Clarke said.

Austin voters approved the $7.1 billion Connect project in the November 2020 election, with property taxes allocated to improve transit and mobility projects in the city. U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said about half of that sticker price will be covered by federal resources, making Austin’s collaboration with federal transportation administrators all the more vital, he added.

“It means a huge increase in funding to be able to meet our transportation challenges,” Doggett said. “And we believe that with the direct grants and funding available, we believe we will be able to achieve the goals of Project Connect.”

The conference, which runs through Friday at the Austin Convention Center, covers the current state of public transit, innovative transportation efforts and the future of public transit post-COVID-19. Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez is visiting Austin and touring CapMetro’s facilities and concepts for Project Connect as part of the conference.

Where does the funding for Project Connect come from?

The Austin Transit Partnership, which oversees the implementation of Project Connect, receives 8.75 cents from the city’s property tax rate to fund the transit effort. Additional resources include the aforementioned federal grants and funding as well as the CapMetro Capital Expansion Fund.

At a meeting of the Project Connect Community Advisory Board on Monday, ATP finance executives gave a funding outlook based on the fourth quarter fiscal 2020-21 financial statements. Officials said a joint working session between the city, the ATP and CapMetro next week will provide a financial roadmap for the debt issuance process and how federal funds will be distributed.

During this working session, the project leaders will discuss the sequencing schedule and the schedule for the overall project, as well as the manner and date of receipt of federal funding. ATP chief financial officer Greg Canally said early estimates indicate the Fed dollars will be secure in 2024.

Melvin Z. Madore