Assistant City Manager Robert Goode cited a number of possibilities for filling that operating cost gap: money from Capital Metro, the city's general fund, advertising and naming rights for parts of the system (such as stations), special property tax levies for commercial districts along the line and contributions from "partners" such as state government or the university.
For now, nothing is nailed down, Goode and Spillar said. "I would hope we would have a plan to fund that before we go to the voters," Spillar said.
City officials last week unveiled not only the first phase route, but also a 4.1-mile second phase to the south and east that would include a second north-south route through downtown on Congress Avenue and San Jacinto Boulevard, a new bridge over Lady Bird Lake south of Trinity Street (probably open only to trains, buses, pedestrians and cyclists) and a leg along East Riverside Drive to South Pleasant Valley Road.
At a meeting Friday, the city attached a tentative $500 million cost estimate (in 2012 dollars) to that second phase, saying it is unlikely to occur before 2020.
Spillar said the city's initial pursuit of federal money would cover only the first phase from Mueller to downtown. The second phase would involve a separate federal application and a second decision by the federal agency.
An overall transit plan, still in draft form, includes other urban rail branches that might be built even further into the future, including extending the Riverside line to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, a South Congress Avenue route and legs along Guadalupe Street and North Lamar Boulevard, West 35th Street, and Barton Springs Road. The rough estimate for all of that, also in 2012 dollars, according to the city: $2.1 billion.