CodeNEXT Needs Additional Density on Corridors to Support Transit and Achieve Imagine Austin Mobility Goals
Building a more robust mass transit system is critical to solving Austin’s mobility challenges, but Austin’s sprawling development makes successful mass transit impossible today.
Imagine Austin recognized that land use and mobility are intimately linked, envisioning a more compact and connected city that can only be achieved by changing our Land Development Code.
CodeNEXT remains a work in progress, but a new Evolve Austin Transit Study reveals that there is much work to be done if Austin’s new code is to enable the concentration of residential and commercial development near major corridors that is critical to mass transit success.
Using the respected and oft-cited Puget Sound Regional Council’s literature review of densities required to support Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Transit Study examined the relationship between high-capacity transit ridership and the allowable housing/job densities within a 5-10 minute walk of the 35 corridors identified by Imagine Austin as potential high-capacity transit routes.
The study found that the first version of the proposed CodeNEXT would only allow the minimum 17 people and jobs per gross acre required to support BRT in just nine of the 35 corridors, meaning that 75 percent of the transit corridors Imagine Austin established would not effectively support high-capacity transit under the current draft of CodeNEXT.
Anderson Lane, Jollyville Road and Airport Boulevard were identified as the biggest missed opportunities to achieving transit-supportive density based on the concentration of housing and jobs there currently; the minimum additional density required to cross the transit-supportive threshold; and the low impact of the proposed zoning in the first draft of CodeNext.
Braker Lane, Springdale Road and Jollyville Road experienced the lowest impact overall when the proposed zoning was compared to the zoning currently in place.
Successful public transit systems must have a minimum density of people and jobs along the corridors they serve in order to operate efficiently and generate a sustainable amount of ridership. Austin has the population, power and desperate need for transit to succeed. What we’re lacking are the appropriate tools for success to materialize.
This study shows that the proposed CodeNEXT, which is critical to achieving Imagine Austin’s goals, needs to go much further to allow the minimum number of households and jobs required near major corridors to support the robust mass transit system that is vital to get Austin moving again.
As we near the public unveiling of the much-anticipated second draft of CodeNEXT, we strongly urge city leaders to make the changes to CodeNEXT necessary to achieve Imagine Austin’s mobility and sustainability goals before it’s too late.