There’s so much chatter about transportation projects that have varying degrees of reality, it’s hard to keep track sometimes.
One of those projects is coming online in the very near future and going to have big impacts on the downtown transportation grid.
Starting next year, the right most travel lanes on Guadalupe and Lavaca will become the Transit Priority Lanes for the MetroRapid busses. Vehicles in these lanes will be restricted to transit vehicles and cars making right turns.
Notably, in addition to the new MetroRapid busses, all the bus transit will be diverted to those streets from Congress Avenue, which will pay dividends for drivers on Congress and also significantly improve the pedestrian environment – the latter that I predict will catalyze more sidewalk and pocket park cafes along Congress.
Additionally, parking on the right side of Lavaca and Guadalupe will be eliminated to avoid potential bus/car conflicts. Some 95 parking spaces will bite the dust and delivery vehicles, valet and taxis will need to use side streets to load or unload.
Cyclists will use the former parking lane to the right of the Transit Priority Lanes as a dedicated bicycle-only lane. Apparently, they are looking for eventual funding (in the long-term) to install “Great Streets” wider sidewalks on those two streets as well, at which time a narrowed bicycle lane would still be maintained.
This project has cheerleaders and detractors.
Perennial transit blogger Mike Dahmus, and Statesman columnist Ben Wear have both taken CapMetro to task for the fact that the new “MetroRapid” service won’t actually be “rapid” compared to the regular bus service.
I’m choosing to reserve judgment on the project until it is up and running next year.
You have probably noticed the MetroRapid stations popping up around town, like the one pictured above that is across the street from the Dog & Duck Pub on Lavaca. For those who do not use busses regularly, finding the right spot to get on can be tricky and intimidating.
But with these new stations, I think novice transit riders, including myself, will be inclined to give it a try. One of the neat things about these stops is that they will include LED boards that show the time until the next bus arrives.