Changes are on the way to Capital Metro's Downtown Station. It's the end of the line for MetroRail service right in front of the Austin Convention Center. Our City Reporter Jeff Stensland shows us the potential new station designs.
Changes are on the way to Capital Metro's Downtown Station—meaning the end of the line for MetroRail service in front of the Austin Convention Center.
Only in service less than five years, MetroRail is shoulder to shoulder during rush hour, and Capital Metro's Todd Hemingson says Downtown Station is overwhelmed during major events.
The transit agency is considering three potential designs for a permanent station.
"Part of what we are trying to do is spark peoples' imagination and say, 'What kind of creative, innovative, beautiful things can we have there that make this a great public space," Hemingson said.
Right now, part of Fourth Street is used by cars, as well as trains, bikes and pedestrians, but Cap Metro wants to have three tracks coming into here instead of one, which may mean cars will have to go.
Melissa Zone is a regional planner, and one of about 50 people who weighed in on designs Saturday.
"I can see this area growing and becoming more inviting," she said "Not only that are coming in for transit reasons, but the people that are there for other reasons."
Zone says the station needs to be inviting.
"People feel safe,” she said. “The accessibility that where they are going, they can access that from this station."
One of Austin's original squares is just north of the station.
Hemingson hopes the upgrades will be a jumping off point for this part of downtown that's quiet outside business hours.
"One of the objectives is to make it more active, make it a place where people want to be,” Hemingson said. “One of the things we are looking at is how we can work with Brush Square and make it into more of a real park."
The new station will be paid for with leftover grant money from the failed urban rail proposition.
Capital Metro says that money is earmarked for rail investment so it cannot be diverted to bus operations.
Cap Metro has four new trains on order to double its MetroRail capacity.