LEANDER, Texas - The last few trains that rolled out Monday morning from the Leander Park and Ride Station did not represent the end of a ride. It was a possibility for commuters like Caroline Nicholson until every vote was counted Saturday night.
"I’m really excited, I was a little nervous that this would not be here," said Caroline Nicholson who voted for Prop A.
Leander voters, on Saturday, approved a proposition to provide a one cent sales tax to CapMetro. The vote not only keeps the trains arriving, but also the commuter buses as well as a pickup van service.
That three-tier transportation plan is a big part of the day for David Conrad. He spoke to FOX 7 before riding the rail into Austin.
"It means a lot to us. For example, I have a one car family, 2 little kids, and the way that we make it work, may wife and I, is that I take the vans and buses to the train, and not have to worry about how I’m going to get to work, or even, how I’m going to get to the next station down there. It's a huge relief we were worried for months," said Conrad.
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Several people who live outside of Leander and use this transportation hub could not vote on the proposition.
That was a concern for riders like Carrie Van Metran. She lives in Liberty Hill but shops in Leander. She was one of the few commuters using the train Monday morning, but she eventually expects to see fewer empty seats.
"I’m trying to get back to riding the train, I’m glad that it passed," said Carrie Van Metran, a commuter from Liberty Hill.
The penny sales tax for CapMetro in Leander last year generated almost $10 million. Those who opposed the transportation partnership argued it gave away too much for too little in return.
The growth that’s taking place in Leander is expected to increase ridership, and its expected to increase the sales tax revenue for CapMetro. City leaders wanted to address that, and worked out a deal to have the transit agency send some money back.
"I think it’s a matter of equity and fair share it’s also during the period of time which the city is building out," said Leander City Manager Rick Beverlin.
The new deal, according to Beverlin, will give the city $2 million this year from CapMetro. There will also be an additional $7 million from a special transportation fund.
"It’s a guarantee that we will get a portion of funds back over the next 10 years with the majority the money coming upfront," said Beverlin.
After the 10-year deal expires, there could be another vote.
"I would hope that we would be able to expand on this relationship and go ahead and revisit another interlocal agreement at some point. I think the proof will be in the pudding over the next few years as we approach 100,000 in population," said Beverlin.
If Leander had voted pulled out, transportation services would have ended almost immediately but the sale tax was expected to continue for about 4 years. That’s because the city is still responsible for $42 million in debt.
A contingency transportation plan was put together if voters had decided to leave CapMetro. That plan involved hiring an independent transportation company to provide commuter service.