The plan would greatly expand on the city’s existing commuter rail line and BRT network.

The LRT Orange Line would run from North Lamar Transit Center via the University of Texas to Lady Bird Lake and along South Congress to Stassney Lane. The LRT Blue Line would run to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport along East Riverside Drive, across Lady Bird Lake to the Convention Center and west along 4th Street to Republic Square.

Both lines, totalling 48km with 32 station, would run along a dedicated right of way. Extensions of the Orange Line north to Tech Ridge and south to Slaughter Lane are envisioned for future phases.

These two lines would be linked through a 2.5km tunnel under the city centre, with underground stations including Republic Square station.

The plan also includes a BRT Gold line, which would also run along a dedicated lane from Downtown Station via Republic Square and the University of Texas campus to ACC Highland. This route would be suitable for future conversion to light rail.

A regional transport centre would link all services, including from other transit providers. The property could include space for mixed-use retail and housing, art displays, public toilets, electric vehicle charging and a parking garage to serve more Park & Ride customers.

To improve connection options and amenities, 14 new Park & Ride facilities would be built across the network, with some to include electric vehicle charging facilities.

Both BRT and LRT vehicles will feature bike racks, onboard digital passenger information, free Wi-Fi, mobile device charging and automatic wheelchair securement.

The Project Connect system plan is estimated to cost $US 9.6bn, including $US 7.9bn for the LRT and BRT lines. Capital Metro hopes to receive 40% of this through federal funding, with the remaining funding raised through local measures including additional taxes.

The plan was presented to Capital Metro’s board of directors and Austin City Council on March 9. A three month period of public consultation is now underway ahead of a vote on the final plan at the end of May. The plan, and the recommended taxes to finance it, will then be put to the public in the November election.

For detailed information on light rail projects around the world, subscribe to IRJ Pro.