The campaign is designed to heighten awareness around a comprehensive transit plan, known as Project Connect, that features an enhanced rail system, expanded bus service with an all-electric fleet, and $300 million investment earmarked for combating displacement. Voters will determine the project’s fate in November’s election.
Early voting starts Oct. 13, and the Black community should vote for Prop A, supporters say. A consensus among several Black community leaders is that there has always been a disconnect, a literal dividing line within Austin disguised as Interstate 35, where access to quality transportation and affordable housing mostly stops. Project Connect presents a unique opportunity to begin to right the wrongs of the past.
Project Connect has the potential to rectify previous neglect.
“Historically, we have neglected people in Austin who are in dire need of quality transportation. Three hundred thousand residents, mostly Black and Latinx east of I-35, do not have adequate transportation access. A good public transit system is not just about access to transportation; it’s about social justice,” said Chas Moore, founder and Executive Director of the Austin Justice Coalition. “Project Connect has the potential to rectify previous neglect.”
The project will help correct decades of disparities by providing better transportation access, bridging an emblematic gap between Austin residents. The proposed system will:
- create new MetroExpress and MetroRapid bus routes
- a new commuter rail line to East Austin, enhancements to the current commuter MetroRail Red Line
- a new park-and-ride at both the Delco Center and the Expo Center
- new neighborhood ‘front door pick up’ service
- funds for new or existing affordable housing, which would be served by the upgraded public transit system
Everyone living in Austin will benefit from the new transit system.
“If approved by voters, Project Connect will benefit the entire city,” said Pastor Joseph C. Parker, Jr of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. “Public transportation systems transform communities by connecting and helping individuals and families thrive and improving quality of life. Everyone living in Austin will benefit from the new transit system.”
In Austin, transportation improvements usually mean the neighborhoods that benefit become unaffordable for locals. Project Connect promises to change that by investing $300 million of the proposed $7.1 billion budget to keep housing in communities along the routes affordable. If
approved by voters, the average homeowner will see a $285 increase in taxes per year, which equates to just $24 a month.
According to local NAACP President Nelson Linder, “Project Connect has the potential to connect the city and address the need for transportation that has been lacking in Austin’s history. If we are going to have equity in this city, we must have a very thorough, fair, and accessible transportation system.”
The project will also improve our environment by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. When the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reduced traffic, we saw cleaner air — visible evidence of the environmental benefits of investing in public transportation to reduce our dependence on gas-powered vehicles and fight climate change.
“This is what operationalizing equity looks like. It’s a great start to making decisions for Austin that are equitable. However, there is still work to be done,” said Yasmine Smith, development director of Austin Area Urban League, a nonprofit organization that has endorsed the project. Black community leaders believe residents have the power to support a giant leap forward in terms of creating equity and affordability in Austin by voting in favor of Proposition A.
To learn more about why to support this plan, visit transitnowatx.com. Pd. Pol. Ad. Mobility for All PAC Mobility For All PAC. Top 5 donors on 10/06/2020: HNTB, Austin FC, Brandywine Operating Partnership, Endeavor Real Estate Group, HDR.