Here's an idea for consideration:
1) Dissolve Capitol Metro (CM), sell off its assets and sweep their existing ($0.01) sales tax into the city coffers as a transit tax. This will instantly DOUBLE the city's sales tax revenue to around $400M/year. The asset liquidation, along with CM's $140M slush fund, can provide an initial transit stipend to move our city into a more proactive role in providing effective transit to its citizens.
2) Create a city program to qualify and register transit challenged citizens who rely on CM's public transit.
3) Negotiate a 'special transit rate' with Uber/Lyft (or any other qualified private transit provider) for registered transit dependent citizens. Provide transit subsidy for handicapped and low income citizens.
4) Create a city shuttle system with two tiers of service: 1) local inner city circulators similar to the old 'Dillo' system and 2) a small fleet of buses for special events and express commuting.
5) After a reasonable evaluation period, when program costs are known, refund the excess tax receipts to taxpayers in the form of a lower city property tax rate (potentially saving homeowners as much as 10% on their city tax bill).
CM is literally 'off the rails' in it's operational costs and spending. In this year alone 45% of its capital expenses will go to MetroRail commuter rail - a 'black hole' that serves less than 2,000 round trip riders/day at a loss of nearly $40/rider/day.
CM's budget is $300M; it's fare receipts are only about $24M. That's a DEFICIT of over a QUARTER BILLION DOLLARS per year! It funds a bloated bureaucracy of over 300 people - none of whom do any actual 'hands on' transit work. CM's funding COULD fuel a transit revolution for our city if we are bold enough to move forward with new vision.
We're entering a new age of transit where programs like Uber, Lyft along with self driving vehicles can increasingly assume public transit duty. This 'on-demand' network can provide a more efficient, cost effective transit option to more citizens than our existing archaic public transit system.
1) Eliminates inefficient taxpayer funded overhead.
2) Provides a more responsive and timely public transit option at lower cost.
3) Minimizes the limited routing problem. Service would instantly be available throughout the city/county.
4) Reduces vehicles on the road and their subsequent emissions.
5) Eliminates empty buses that hinder traffic flow and cost taxpayers to 'go through the motions'.
6) Reduces property taxes and improves Austin affordability.
Continuation and expansion of the same old failed schemes of 'mass transit' pursued by other cities is following - not leading. Austin can have an opportunity to demonstrate it's a progressive city that can think outside the box. We CAN lead the way in the use of these new technologies/methodologies. The money we spend on CM serves very few citizens at an exorbitant cost, it could fuel this next generation transit option.