Joseph Diaz takes the 801 rapid bus every day from his home in Central Austin to the Georgian Acres neighborhood in North Austin to get to his job. The bus lets off at the North Lamar transit station on U.S. 183. Diaz, 22, walks across the highway to check in for work at Jail to Jobs on East Powell Lane.
He is one of the many people who rely on public transportation to get into and out of the area. Georgian Acres is what University of Texas at Austin Community and Regional Planning Associate Professor Junfeng Jiao calls a “transit desert” — a term he coined to describe a region with high demand for transportation service but low supply. In the primarily Hispanic and low-income neighborhood along U.S. 183 and Interstate 35, commute times are 67% longer than the city average.
“People who live there mostly have to rely on bus service,” Jiao says. “However, they don’t have enough bus service to the neighborhood.”
To solve that problem, Jiao is working with the City of Austin and the nonprofit Jail to Jobs to bring more transportation options into the neighborhood by building a community mobility hub, which will benefit people like Diaz and others who live in or commute to the area. The solar-powered hub will have access to a neighborhood bus system, a bike-share station, e-scooter stations, and possibly Uber and Lyft parking spaces. In addition, it will offer free Wi-Fi and other community services like a mobile health clinic and food pantry. “It would be really nice to have that here, close by,” says Diaz.
(More infromation about this project can be found in the following report)