Light Rail advocates want November ballot

It has been almost two years since a plan to build a light rail line through Austin failed. Now, a new effort is underway to get the idea back on track.

Cap Metro bus riders arriving at Republic Square in downtown Austin Wednesday were asked to provide some feedback on the public transportation service.

Among those providing a few ideas was Dick Kallerman. He suggested a better outreach campaign may help convince more people to get on board.

"If people start thinking in turns of urban, urban living, mass transit it part of it. If you get in a car it’s a contradiction, if you think you are an urbanite living in a city and you get in a car, it means you really don’t know what urban living is all about."

Members of the Austin Zoning and Platting Commission, Tuesday night, also weighed in on the city's mobility problem. A resolution was approved calling on the city council to put a transportation bond proposal on the upcoming November ballot. The commission's resolution does not single out one idea. Mario Champion, a member of the city Urban Transportation Commission, which made a similar recommendation earlier this month, says voters should be giving options and vote on several different plans. 

"So if we can separate out non-car and car mobility bonds we can have a clearer understanding of what people are willing to pay for," said Champion.

In 2014, a multi-million dollar bonds proposal to build light rail through UT and downtown was rejected by voters.

Now, a group of rail advocates is pushing a different route, one they believed can win at the ballot box rail advocates are pitching a different route believing it could have a better chance of winning at the ballot box.

The Central Austin Community Development Corporation has a light rail plan that bisects the city. The first phase would run primarily down North Lamar.  The group says passage of an $80 to $120 million November bond would fund engineering work. Another bond issue in 2018 would start construction. With federal grant money, by 2024 the entire light rail line could be operational. 

The CDC plan has not been officially endorsed by the urban transportation commission but champion believes the Lamar route could be fast tracked.

"We have left it, at the Urban Transportation Commission; we have left our resolutions up to staff, because there is a lot of planning the staffers have done, and looking at a lot of different routes. I would personally love to see a minimum operating segment that includes Guadeloupe - Lamar, I would be quite all right with a referendum that’s says we need to devote money to looking at rail, including the plans we already have,” said Champion.

There is one big road block to getting a light rail bond package on the November ballot. Mayor Steve Adler. His spokesman Jason Stanford tells FOX 7, the mayor is willing to consider a mobility bond proposal but not one that includes rail. Adler wants to develop a new rail strategy and doesn't believe there is enough time to do it by this fall.