AUSTIN, Texas - Stepping off a short train ride from the Capital Metro MLK station to Plaza Saltillo, Mayor Steve Adler and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg talked transportation.
"I am so deeply impressed by what I see going on here in Austin when it comes to transportation and mobility," said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg said he is impressed with the city's new mobility plan, called Project Connect. It aims to expand rail and bus options, and even address displacement.
"Austin, you have a lot to be proud of, and I know you are just getting started. I can't wait to team up with you to make these visions a reality," he said.
The secretary also said billions of dollars are on their way to Texas for similar efforts across the state.
"I think this is going to be a great place to showcase what the future of transit looks like, and we will be supporting that with major federal investments across every mode of transportation here," said Buttigieg.
He emphasized Austin's skyrocketing home costs as well as rent. Buttigieg said it may not be something you think about often, but transportation and housing are connected. He believes they need to be examined and analyzed together to create the best solutions.
"Folks are forced to live possibly far away, so they can afford a home, or folks are forced to live in unaffordable housing, so they can be close to work," he said.
City and county leaders agree that options create opportunity.
"Maybe that means that they won't have to be in the back of the bus during rush hour traffic trying to get across town to pick up their little sister. Maybe they won't have to get up so early," said Yasmin Smith, chairperson of People United for Mobility Action.
"Dove Springs, the Expo Center, pleasant valley, all of these communities have been historically underserved and under touched. Cap Metro today is touching them first," said Commissioner Jeff Travillion, Precinct One.
As the money comes in Buttigieg is confident Austin leaders will put it to proper use.
"Living in Austin used to mean you have to have a car, you have no choice. Investing in transit opens up choices for more people," said Buttigieg.
Austin second in nation in rising rents, average rent more than $2,200
Travis County pauses applications for rent, mortgage assistance
Neighbors in South Austin put up 'slow down' signs hoping drivers, city leaders will pay attention
DOWNLOAD: FOX 7 AUSTIN NEWS APP
SUBSCRIBE: Daily Newsletter | YouTube
FOLLOW: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter