M1EK is relentless on CapMetro

While I remain optimistic about the forthcoming Commuter Rail, M1EK makes some convincing arguments about how the system leaves room for improvement.

Downtown Austin Parking + the most interesting presentation on parking in the history of the world.

Downtown Austin Parking = FAIL

Downtown Austin Parking = FAIL

The most interesting presentation about parking in the history of the world (pdf).

(Okay, this is about parking so it’s dry as your grandmothers turkey.  But, in the world of parking, this is a home run presentation.  I’ve heard from DANA board members that Patrick Siegman, the guy who wrote the presentation, is an amazing speaker on the topic of parking and new urbanism.)

I’ll help out… below are three major reforms that could be applied to Downtown Austin parking.

1. Charge fair-market prices for curb parking
2. Spend the resulting revenue to pay for neighborhood public improvements
3. Remove the requirements for off-street parking

Over the past 48 hours there’s been lots of discussion over at Austin Contrarian about parking issues. This is encouraging because sometimes I wonder if our citizens recognize the immense impact that parking guidelines have on the look and feel of our city.  Downtown Austin apartments, condos, and retail are putting more stress on the availability of [convenient] parking.  Parking has a causal relationship with keeping cars on the road, walkability, and overall neighborhood-ness.

In October I was fortunate to be included in a delegation of Austinites sent to Vancouver in order to learn about how they’ve managed rapid growth and become one of the most admired cities in the world. One of their council members, Gordon Price, delivered one of the most impassioned orations about smart urban planning.  He made one particular comment that struck me…

“Show me your parking ordinance, and I’ll show you what your city looks like!”

Personally, this was a revelation.  Will Austin City Council adopt new parking rules that will encourage use of mass transit and walkability?  I hope so.  The alternative is more cars, more roads, and more scorched earth strip malls.

Rail, rail, rail – why Austin needs more rail!

future of downtown Austin rail?

future of downtown Austin rail?

• Transportation is the most significant challenge facing region
• Lack of mobility is affecting Downtown’s role as cultural & commercial heart of region
• Lack of transportation options affects affordability & social equity
• Automobile dominance impairs ability to create pedestrian-oriented Downtown
• Rail provides opportunity to carry many more people in the same space compared to roads

World class cities are often defined by their rail system.  Austin has an opportunity to pool the economic resources from San Marcos to Round Rock with a rail system.  Companies looking to establish a headquarters look to cities with good mobility for its employees and customers.  Rail is an investment in our city that will provide a return in job growth, less sprawl, and less reliance on cars and foreign oil.

link to City Council presentation from Nov. 6th. [pdf]

MetroRail now set to launch March 30

Capital Metro announced the new launch date on Wednesday after the transportation authority’s board met to evaluate progress. The commuter rail was supposed to begin service this year but construction delays
with two of the line’s stops along with delays on the route’s signal system prompted Capital Metro to push back the launch. [link]

I Heart the Dillo, and You Should, Too.

Austin Dillo

Austin Dillo

Free ‘Dillo service (the trolley-like buses downtown) is getting a make-over.  With a lot of work by the city and cap metro and with heavy input from your representatives at DANA (the Downtown Austin neighborhood Association), the ‘Dillo map has  been simplified into an easy to remember North/South, East/West route with a greater frequency of buses (every 5 minutes during the week) that is expected to make the service more convenient for every day riders and casual users trying to get around town.

If you want this phenomenal service to continue, I recommend using it and using it often.

BTW – my favorite route?  It’s the one that goes from 5th and Red River to Whole Foods back to 5th and Red River.  HOW COOL IS THAT?

You can download or print the new map here:
http://www.capmetro.org/riding/current_schedules/maps/new%20dillo%20m…

If you were a regular user of the service and want to know how your commute
has been impacted, Cap Metro has posted additional information here:
http://capmetroblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/if-you-loved-red-dillo.html