June 25, 2014
Senator Kirk Watson announced that the Texas Department of Transportation will vote Thursday on a $50 million grant to the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority to purchase four additional MetroRail cars and help construct a permanent, expanded downtown rail station.
“It’s encouraging that TxDOT is looking for and supporting multimodal strategies to help tackle our congestion challenges,” Senator Watson said. “It’s not possible to meet the demands of a thriving economy and fast growing population by only investing in roads. We need to embrace every available option to provide relief.”
“I’ve been working with Chairman Houghton to obtain this comparatively modest investment in Austin’s commuter rail because it will help Capital Metro double the capacity of the MetroRail system, which regularly runs with standing room only during peak commute times, taking cars and buses off crowded roads.”
Linda Watson, president and chief executive officer of Capital Metro, said the state grant comes at an ideal time given record-breaking ridership on MetroRail.
“Senator Watson and TxDOT share Capital Metro’s ‘all of the above’ multi-modal approach to solving traffic congestion issues in Central Texas. We appreciate Senator Watson’s leadership and TxDOT’s support toward this important goal,” Linda Watson said.
The state grant will dovetail with the $11.3 million in federal funding that Capital Metro received in 2013 to lay double tracks at strategic points and increase the capacity of the 32-mile commuter line.
The state grant, when combined with recent federal and local investments, will enable Capital Metro to increase the frequency of trains on the Red Line, cutting the wait-time from 34 minutes during peak travel periods to 15 minutes. It will also allow for the addition of a late train after 7 pm, giving more commuters a convenient alternative to their own vehicles.
Capital Metro requested the $50 million for the following:
New Rail Cars
Four new rail cars will double the capacity of the current rail system and allow up to 2,400 passenger trips during the morning and again in the afternoon peak with 15-minute headways. MetroRail currently provides more than 2,700 trips per weekday with a majority of these passengers going through the downtown station.
MetroRail Downtown Station
The MetroRail Downtown Station will replace the current facility that was designed to be temporary and connect the Red Line with future urban rail and local bus service. The new Downtown Station will include three tracks and two platforms to accommodate future system expansion and better serve large crowds during special events. This station configuration is estimated to cost between $30 million and $35 million, part of which will come from local partners.