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A subway in Austin? City leaders explore massive transit expansion


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It’s nice to see another Texas city beside Dallas with leaders not thinking small (BRT) when it comes to transit. A subway is what Austin needs through the central city. Not BRT or street car light rails that constantly get into accidents. 

We can go small and fail or we can make the right investment for the future of our city,” council member Jimmy Flannigan said. “We’re talking about rail in a tunnel. That’s a subway. I mean, wow. That’s what real cities do.”


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/austins-unveils-multi-billion-dollar-transit-plan-with-possible-light-rail-expansion-downtown-subway/amp/
 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/texasmonitor.org/austin-leaders-want-a-big-transit-plan-opponents-see-big-problems/amp/

 

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I think having a LRT subway under the central part of Austin makes sense for rather specific reasons.

 

Austin's core is pretty dense and a lot of the important destinations for commuters in that city are all clustered in one small area. UT, Downtown, State Capitol, the new medical district, the tourist attractions etc. At the same time Austin doesn't have any really wide streets in downtown where you could do at-grade BRT or LRT. Any bus lanes would be contentious.

 

A LRT tunnel would only have to be a few miles long and have a few stations to hit up everything worth serving, then lines going further out could be built more cheaply as at grade routes in the median of larger roads.

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15 minutes ago, zaphod said:

I think having a LRT subway under the central part of Austin makes sense for rather specific reasons.

 

Austin's core is pretty dense and a lot of the important destinations for commuters in that city are all clustered in one small area. UT, Downtown, State Capitol, the new medical district, the tourist attractions etc. At the same time Austin doesn't have any really wide streets in downtown where you could do at-grade BRT or LRT. Any bus lanes would be contentious.

 

A LRT tunnel would only have to be a few miles long and have a few stations to hit up everything worth serving, then lines going further out could be built more cheaply as at grade routes in the median of larger roads.

I don’t think any of the Austin system should be at grade. They should model theirs after light rail systems in LA or San Francisco’s BART. I guess you could look at San Francisco MUNI as well. It goes in the streets but is mostly grade separate in a subway. 

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I think most of Austin is too low density and has too low ridership potential to support that.

 

A LRT could be a subway from Downtown to North Lamar transit center with subway stations at the drag(UT), triangle, crestview, koenig, etc. There's some huge TOD potential there if the DPS and Department of Health and Human Services packed up and moved. But then past that it really makes more sense to run as at grade system, because that opens the potential for lines going way out to Round Rock, etc. There should also be a line going to the Domain.

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10 minutes ago, West Timer said:

Real city? I think it's going to take just a little bit more than a mile and a half of subway do to that.

 

 Maybe Austin with it's magical  1.5 miles of subway can rocket from being a gamma global city past Houston's Alpha ranking,  to be an Alpha ++  with NYC and London. Then it can walk around with the big boys and big girls. 

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15 hours ago, citykid09 said:

I don’t think any of the Austin system should be at grade. They should model theirs after light rail systems in LA or San Francisco’s BART. I guess you could look at San Francisco MUNI as well. It goes in the streets but is mostly grade separate in a subway. 

 

Most of the length of Muni's lines are at grade, similar to (or worse than) Houston's LRT. Only central sections are subways. It would actually be a decent point of comparison for this plan.

 

BART is somewhat of a different animal (it has a 3rd rail so CANNOT be at grade without being fenced off), but most of its length is not subway - it's fenced at grade or elevated, generally in freeway ROW.

Edited by Texasota
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8 hours ago, Texasota said:

 

Most of the length of Muni's lines are at grade, similar to (or worse than) Houston's LRT. Only central sections are subways. It would actually be a decent point of comparison for this plan.

 

BART is somewhat of a different animal (it has a 3rd rail so CANNOT be at grade without being fenced off), but most of its length is not subway - it's fenced at grade or elevated, generally in freeway ROW.

A BART type system is what Houston needs. Maybe Austin should look at the MUNI. 

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9 hours ago, Texasota said:

 

Most of the length of Muni's lines are at grade, similar to (or worse than) Houston's LRT. Only central sections are subways. It would actually be a decent point of comparison for this plan.

 

BART is somewhat of a different animal (it has a 3rd rail so CANNOT be at grade without being fenced off), but most of its length is not subway - it's fenced at grade or elevated, generally in freeway ROW.

 

MARTA in Atlanta is a similar touchstone for this.  I think it's 3-rail also, but it's underground in downtown and grade-separated, above-ground elsewhere.

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