Millions of people travel between Austin and San Antonio annually for work, business and recreation.

According to a 2007 IH-35 Trade Corridor study by the Federal Highway Administration, the area between San Antonio and Austin contains the highest levels of automobile-related fatalities, the worst congestion, the slowest average driving speed and the highest levels of highway-related pollution in the nation.

What then, can be done to improve the commute between the two cities? Lone Star Rail District has proposed a solution: a passenger railway.

The organization — composed of elected and private officials — estimates a 2016-2017 date for federal approval of engineering and environmental studies after which it can begin construction on the passenger railway system.

When built, the passenger system will substantially benefit the economy and the environment.

According to the 2007 Austin-San Antonio Commuter Rail Project Financial & Economic Benefits Report, the railway will save between 167,400 – 339,600 hours of yearly congestion delay.

Moreover, commuters will save well over $18 million annually on fuel; air quality will improve with the removal of 2.7 million vehicle trips per year and approximately 81 accidents per year will be prevented, saving over $330 million dollars over the next 25 years.

For college students looking to spend the day at the San Marcos outlets, or for those looking for a safe way to travel to Austin without the burden of finding a parking spot and spending gas money, a passenger railway provides the perfect solution.

A passenger railway already exists in Dallas. Trinity Railway Express stretches from the heart of downtown Dallas to Fort Worth.

The 34-mile railway, serving over 7,300 passengers per day, is the 15th most-commuted railway in the country and served over two million people in 2013.

Texas prides itself in being the best, from sports to business and recreation.

The state, unfortunately, holds the distinction of being the worst in automobile-related fatalities in addition to the aforementioned list of negative characteristics along the IH-35 corridor from Austin to San Antonio.

Perhaps Lone Star Rail District’s proposal for a passenger railway will put Texas on the right track toward a better and safer IH-35 corridor.

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