Transportation

Traffic, public transit, congestion, road construction and closures, I-35, MoPac, US 290, US 183, Ben White Blvd, and policy and planning issues related to transportation and mobility in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson.

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

The number of partnerships between public transit agencies and private ridesharing companies like Uber has been booming. Since 2016, at least 27 such programs have sprung up across the country, including one in Central Austin. 

Courtesy of Uber

Researchers at the University of Texas' Cockrell School of Engineering have been tapped to help propel Uber "air taxis" into the sky.

UberAIR – the ride-hailing company's proposed urban aviation program – is set to launch flight demonstrations in Dallas and Los Angeles by 2020. The service is scheduled to be commercially available to riders by 2023. 

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

Local money alone is not enough to improve public transit and ease traffic congestion in the region, Capital Metro CEO Randy Clarke said at a board of directors meeting Monday.

For years, the region’s transit agency has been working to develop Project Connect, a plan to build a transit network that can move more people faster. Austin City Council members joined the Cap Metro board to explore how to pay for it.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

For 68 years, drivers on Colorado Street in downtown Austin could go only one way: south.

But as of today, that one-directional road officially goes two ways for cars. It’s the hip thing to do.

Hyperloop One

Texas’ Hyperloop dreams are no longer confined to a pipe.

Officials in North Texas plan on putting some money behind an environmental impact study of a 700-mph train between Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington. That project, ideally, would later expand to a network that would include Austin, as well.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Capital Metro recently ended a pilot program that would improve the way blind people use the bus system. It involves an app that uses voiceover technology to give people real-time transportation information while guiding them step-by-step to the nearest bus stop.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Apurva Sukthankar picked a good day to take the bus in Austin for the first time – the fare was free and Capital Metro staff were out assisting riders Sunday, the first day of the Cap Remap launch.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

It’s been a few years since East Austin resident Bonnie Hauser sold her car. The librarian's commute is short enough that she usually bikes or walks to work with the Austin Independent School District. When she has a meeting downtown, Hauser takes the No. 17 bus from her neighborhood.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Part 3 of a three-part series

A driver hit and killed Judy Romano’s son, Barry Friedman, while he was walking in Austin two years ago.

According to the police report, Friedman tried to cross E. Parmer Lane just before 6 a.m. on July 9, 2016. The driver said Friedman was in the crosswalk even though he didn't have the light to cross. 

Julia Reihs / KUT

Part 1 of a three-part series

Fourteen-year-old Alexei Bauereis had quit the backyard stunts like jumping from trees onto roofs and downhill skateboarding that defined his childhood. He was saving his legs for ballet.

Warning: This story contains allusions to language that some people may find offensive.

Starting at $150 a year, the State of Texas will let you personalize the license plate on your vehicle, but the combination of letters and numbers cannot invoke anything the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles considers to be indecent.

Drive.ai

The booming North Texas city of Frisco is reportedly set to get the nation's first self-driving car service.

The service, reported Monday by The Dallas Morning News, will first be accessible in July for roughly 10,000 employees working in a bevy of corporate offices located less than a mile away from The Star, a retail and dining area that also serves as headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys. The service will also be free for the first six months. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Farm-to-market and ranch-to-market roads have helped rural Texans get around since the 1940s. But what happens when these roads become completely surrounded by the city, with fewer ranches and farms on route? The seemingly odd road names caught one listener's curiosity.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Dockless vehicle providers now have rules for operating in Austin after a City Council vote early this morning, giving providers a framework to deploy dockless bikes and scooters legally by as soon as next week.

The unanimous vote rolls dockless vehicles into a city ordinance banning abandoned vehicles from blocking rights-of-way like sidewalks and sets up a framework to penalize dockless vehicles operating illegally in Austin.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Austin voters now have a clearer roadmap for a slate of bond-funded projects intended to relieve congestion and improve city infrastructure on a massive scale.

With little more than a guarantee from the Austin City Council, voters overwhelmingly approved a $720-million mobility-focused bond in 2016. Council voted Thursday to approve a construction plan for some of those projects, which will build out new bike lanes, sidewalks and road redesigns.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The MoPac express lanes opened in 2017, years behind schedule, to offer a faster option for drivers willing to pay a toll. But what if you pay and the lane is no faster – or even slower – than the main lanes? 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Sometimes solving a problem creates a problem.

The city’s transportation department hosted a roundtable this morning to avoid that very maxim as it relates Austin’s rollout of dockless bikes – those smartphone-enabled rental bikes that have cropped up (and all over) cities like Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Dallas.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Researchers from UT Austin's Urban Information Lab have created an interactive map that overlays research on so-called transit deserts to pinpoint which Austin neighborhoods have the least access to public transportation compared to demand.

Junfeng Jiao, lead researcher on the project, says the calculus is more than simply measuring the distance between your front door and a bus stop.

Capital Metro

Capital Metro has revealed the latest designs for a new downtown MetroRail station. Updates include three new railway tracks and five new trains, which will accommodate more traffic than the current station’s single track and train. 

Jeff Heimsath for KUT

Austin is (again) flirting with the idea of a light-rail system, it seems.

A tweet has given us a glimpse at Cap Metro’s plans to build out a light-rail system in Austin that would cost anywhere between $1.4 and $2.1 billion. The tweet appeared to show a Project Connect-branded outline of a route that would run along a 12-mile stretch, connecting Guadalupe Street and Lamar Boulevard north to Highway 183, with room for more lines.

TxDOT

The biggest roundabout in Austin will open at the intersection of the southbound frontage of I-35 and 51st Street on Sunday. But first TxDOT will have to close it completely for a few days to put the finishing touches on it – which means getting rid some of the intersection’s main features.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This post has been updated to reflect the Austin City Council's approval of the pilot program.

Nobody wants to be the withholding stepparent.

That’s why, when dockless bike companies Ofo and Spin rolled out over SXSW last year, they put the city in a tough spot.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Interstate Highway 35 is many things to many people. It is a vital thoroughfare for commerce and shipping. It is also an economic and social barrier through much of Austin. And nearly from its construction, it has been a source of frustration for drivers stuck in its traffic. I-35 has inspired a number of questions and even legends about its design and those who made it.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez

Bike Austin is offering free cycling classes to the public starting next week, thanks to a new partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation.

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

The Capital Metro Board of Directors has chosen Randy Clarke to replace Linda Watson as its next president and CEO.

Clarke comes to Cap Metro from the American Public Transportation Association, where he had been vice president of operations and member services since May 2016. Before that, he was director of security for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Central Texas until 7 p.m. Patchy drizzle is creating slick spots on roadways. The Austin-Travis County Traffic Report Page showed dozens of incidents as of 6 p.m.

Texas Advanced Computing Center

A new partnership between UT-Austin and the city plans to automate the data-gathering process for traffic studies, while making the results immediately available.

In theory, it's simple: Take the video from the city's 360 traffic cameras and make a computer count all the bikes and buses and pedestrians and cars on a given roadway.

In reality, it's not that simple.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The City of Austin has unveiled its pitch to revamp Guadalupe Street near UT campus in a plan that favors bike- and bus-minded improvements.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Traffic is terrible.

City and state officials are really good at counting cars to see how terrible traffic is and how it got that way, but that sort of data collection doesn’t exist for bike and pedestrian traffic. New research hopes to change that.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Priscilla Jove, 19, sat cross-legged on a bench at a bus stop on the corner of West Oltorf Street and South Lamar Boulevard. A student at Austin Community College, Jove was heading to a biology study session. She said she’s not just curious about the human body, but also human behavior, and that's one reason she rides the bus.

“All different sorts of people ride the bus,” she said. “It’s a great way to learn about them, to see how they behave, how they interact with other people.”

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