By JOSH MCDANIEL, Associated Press AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Parents should spend their summer at home, instead of at the beach, when it comes to the future of a city’s economy.
The Austin City Council on Wednesday approved a plan to fund more public transit to help cities create more jobs and boost the economy.
In a 4-3 vote, the council voted 5-1 to authorize the Austin Public Utilities Commission to invest $250 million to buy and operate new, high-capacity, low-cost regional light rail lines.
The $250-million investment includes $120 million for light rail in North Austin, including a $50 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation and a $30 million grant by the city.
The money would be used to purchase a light rail line, widen it, widen a portion of the line and add more stops and stations, said Austin City Manager David Meehan.
The first of those new lines would run through North Austin and the University of Texas.
It would connect the city with downtown and the downtown area in the north of the city, with the goal of increasing density and increasing the amount of employment in the city center.
Meehan said the $250,000 grant is a first step toward what the city hopes will be a nationwide program.
The state and federal government also have grant programs that are helping cities implement transit.
He said it’s not yet clear what the federal government would contribute to the program.
Austin has seen a decline in job growth since 2011, when the city was booming.
A recent report by the state Department of Commerce found Austin had lost over 1,000 jobs since the recession began.