Capital Metro CEO and Board Members held a big meeting today, and the big reveal was a new Project Connect map. The map is fairly similar to other maps that have been released by either transit advocates or the agency itself. Most people that watch these things closely already know the corridors that can support the most transit riders (with important disagreements about the Green Line, which will never go away, and the proposed 2014 rail line, which is still on the map).
But the most important change was now including “Autonomous Rapid Transit” as the preferred mode for the busiest corridors. What is Autonomous Rapid Transit? I don’t know actually, and neither does anyone else. It’s some kind of bus that uses bluetooth to talk to other buses, which apparently our transit agency thinks sounds like it will solve our transit issues better than something like light rail, which carries millions of passengers per day around the world.
It’s a bad idea. I have no idea why they are doing this. The politics are going to backfire, the technology is vaporware, and the whole charade is a disservice to Austin transit riders. I sent the below email to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org , and email@example.com (Delia Garza is an Austin City Councilwoman who sits on the Cap Metro Board). Feel free to copy paste and send them an email yourself!
I wanted to reach out to see if you have any comment on the inclusion of Autonomous Rapid Transit as a preferred mode for some corridors in the Project Connect docs released today. Autonomous Rapid Transit is a technology that isn’t used anywhere in the world currently, so do you think it’s an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars to study it’s use on Austin’s major corridors? Can you elaborate on why a technology that has not been proven safe or functional in any city would be categorized as preferred by Capital Metro compared to technologies that have been adopted worldwide? Are there specific, proven benefits that Autonomous Rapid Transit can provide that more widely used technologies cannot?
Looking forward to hearing from you.