Austin Transit Partners outlines five LRT options as part of Project Connect

March 24, 2023
The options would deliver significantly less light-rail infrastructure than originally planned, but ATP says the revised scope represents a core system that will meet improved mobility goals.

Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) outline five options that will bring light-rail to Austin as part of the region’s Project Connect plan to expand transit options to one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the U.S.

The five options being explored represent what ATP calls a core system. When Austin area voters approved a November 2020 proposition to increase property taxes and dedicate a portion to the transit system, they were promised a bold expansion plan that included more than 28 miles of light rail. The five options ATP is considering range from 6.6 miles to 10.1 miles.

The reduced size of the light-rail options will still meet the needs of the community to increase capacity of the city’s transportation network, improve transit access to affordable housing and jobs and support growth and connectivity to regional activity centers while remaining financially viable and technically feasible.

“This is an exciting day for Austin because our city is close to building a core Austin light rail that is equitable and helps our growing mobility needs,” said Greg Canally, executive director of ATP. “After decades of failing to make progress on light rail, in 2020, nearly 60 percent of voters sent a clear message they want to invest in transit and specifically, light rail. I am proud of the transparent and data driven process ATP has conducted over these last months to develop these options. I encourage people to share their opinions with us because that will inform ATP’s decision-making process as we move towards a staff recommendation in mid-May.”

Three of the options - On-street: 38th to Oltorf to Yellow Jacket, On-street: North Lamar to Pleasant Valley and On-street: 29th to Airport – would allow for future expansion, including platforms, while the Partial underground: UT to Yellow Jacket option would make future underground expansions possible.

On-street: North Lamar to Pleasant Valley would serve the most average daily riders. The North Lamar to Pleasant Valley and 38th to Oltorf to Yellow Jacket option would serve the most affordable housing.

“Austin has always been a city fueled by the power and passion of its people,” said Austin Mayor Kirk Watson. “This light-rail system is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help folks throughout Austin access jobs, healthcare, childcare and everything that our city has to offer. Light rail has been an elusive goal for Austin for well over two decades, and now, thanks to the community working together, it’s really going to happen.”

ATP is asking for community feedback on the five options, which can be viewed more fully at A staff recommendation will be developed with community input, and a final option will be selected by the ATP Board of Directors in June.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.