Photo by Capital Metro
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Cap Metro reviews details of first interlocal agreement with Austin Transit Partnership

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted Monday to approve a resolution authorizing Randy Clarke, the president and CEO of Capital Metro, to finalize a three-year interlocal agreement with Austin Transit Partnership.

In addition to discussing some of the chief details of Capital Metro’s role in the agreement, the board focused its attention on the timeline of the allocation of funds.

The agreement will be required as ATP begins to ramp up its services, Chief Operating Officer Reinet Marneweck explained to the board members.

“Cap Metro will provide administrative support and aid to ATP as it gets off the ground, as well as those elements of the program that Capital Metro will be providing – the bus-related projects, the Red Line, and the pickup services,” Marneweck said.

The three-year term of the agreement, Marneweck explained, is merely preliminary, and intended to be extended for additional years of funding as ATP projects are implemented.

“This is ILA number one, and we should expect more ILAs to come in the future as the relationship evolves,” she said.

According to Marneweck, the relatively short duration of the agreements despite the lengthy timeline of the overall mission helps ensure that the program schedule is adhered to, and the implementation goals are met on time.

As part of the agreement, Capital Metro will implement some of the components of Project Connect, including improvements to the Red Line, MetroRapid and Neighborhood Circulators. This is in addition to providing project management for the Orange and Blue lines. The estimated cost to Capital Metro for its role in aiding Project Connect is $260 million over the course of the three-year agreement.

While Council Member Ann Kitchen expressed support for the resolution, she also requested that the board be briefed on the timeline for $300 million in funding that is part of the interlocal agreement.

“I would like to request that we receive more information in the future, in terms of the timeline for the allocation of the $300 million that is related to equity-focused housing,” Kitchen said, referring to the anti-displacement component of the ILA. “I’d like to have a briefing to our board of that timeline, so that’s one request. And I’d like to understand the timeline for the ILA between ATP and the city.”

CEO Clarke indicated that the $300 million would be spent over the course of 13 years.

“We’re happy to go over more of the details in the future,” he said, “but it’s $100 million over the first three years, then $100 million over the years four through eight, and then another $100 million for the last four.”

Clarke went on to describe the potential implications of putting more funding into the plan – an idea that will be discussed at ATP meetings in February.

“The Cap Metro board and City Council might have to get together to vote, to change the actual sequence plan that the voters approved,” Clarke said.

Kitchen thanked Clarke before reemphasizing the need for the Capital Metro board to be briefed on budgetary updates.

“The integrated financial model is something that, from an understanding perspective, as a briefing item, would be a good thing for Cap Metro to hear,” Kitchen said.

On the subject of the fund-allocation briefings, Marneweck highlighted the dynamic nature of the plan.

“The timing of the model is a conceptual plan,” Marneweck said. “Over the 13 years there will be changing priorities, but I think we all are in agreement that the Orange Line and the Blue Line schedule is the top priority.”

Clarke, in agreement, said, “Right now we are barely to the first pitch of the baseball game.”

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Project Connect: This project brought together a series of Central Texas transportation agencies looking to build high-capacity transit options in the region in the wake of CAMPO's 2035 regional transportation plan. The City of Austin's much-discussed 2014 Urban Rail plan was part of Project Connect's efforts.

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