What’s So Special About Urban Rail?

We all know people who claim they will use public transit just as soon as Austin has a rail system. Some people just prefer the comfort, style, and convenience of travel by rail. In order to get a closer look at the factors behind Austinites desire for rail, we conducted a very unscientific poll of people from all different areas of town, professions and demographics. And pretty quickly two common threads emerged: time and traffic.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” William Penn

People lead very busy lives between their career, family, social activities, creative pursuits, and athletic endeavors, which means our time has become extremely valuable to us. These days, we have become accustomed to the proliferation of life changing products that allow us to access information and products with ease thanks to computers and smartphones. We have become so used to innovation and go-to devices like Google Maps, Netflix and TiVo that we prefer a lifestyle that caters to our “on demand” needs. But an “on demand” mentality can have a dark side as folks think about their individual demands by jumping into personal-use cars and creating traffic. When everyone does this, we see a Wild West-effect as situations become hectic and maybe even a bit scary in bad traffic. We are too civilized to revert to chaos and people see rail as a more civilized solution that protects us from traffic, which allows us to relax and use our time better.

  “Although I enjoy saving gas money, my time is much more valuable.”Austinite

 “The problem with the buses is that…they are stuck in the same traffic as everyone else, so you might as well take your own car.” Austinite

No one wants to sit in traffic. It’s frustrating and unhealthy. The common perception is that rail can save time because it is not generally stuck in street traffic and can control signals at intersections. Also, rail offers more convenience and consistency than other transit because it has direct routes to destinations. People wanting rail hope that it can get us out of traffic and to our destination quicker, safer, and with less frustration so that we can get on to doing what we want.  Rail also gives people time onboard to do other things like read and work on a phone or tablet.

In the meantime, there are lots of time saving transportation options in Austin currently. We, as a city, saved almost 2 million hours in traffic delays last year due to the current transit infrastructure. So, there’s no need to wait for rail to start using options. You can start by taking the bus once a week, cycling or walking for all your short trips and/or by using ParkMe to find parking before you leave the house.

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