One of my colleagues, Tom Cheung, poses an interesting take on the MetroRail that was recently built in Austin. He makes a point that the MetroRail only services an extremely small area, whereas the established bus system services a vast majority of Austin. Tom takes an exceedingly critical view on the MetroRail, stating that "The only good thing that can come from this are for Austinites having the ability to say that their own city has a rail system". While I agree with Mr. Cheung on the fact that the MetroRail should not be expanded, I do not believe that it is as bad as he makes it out to be.
The MetroRail offers a direct mode of transportation between downtown Austin and Leander, allowing residents of Leander a safe option to explore and participate in Austin's vibrant and well-known night life. The schedule even accommodates for this by having later runs on Fridays and Saturdays past midnight. Although the MetroRail currently is not showing very strong numbers, it's possible that expansion may benefit the city of Austin. The reason I believe the MetroRail fails is because of the layout of the city. If you look at a city that has a thriving subway or rail system, like New York, it's because the streets are always packed, the subway the only alternative for fast transportation. In Austin, the streets are only crowded in the downtown area. Since suburban areas are so far away, it's more efficient to drive to work every day. The MetroRail offers 2 recognizable benefits. One, it is a greener and more environmentally friendly way to travel. If it was expanded, it's clear that we would cut down on our carbon emissions. Second, it could be used to eliminate some of the rush hour traffic that plagues Austin highways. Being stuck in gridlock is a trademark of driving in Austin, and the expansion of the MetroRail system would help to alleviate this.
Overall, I don't believe that expanding the MetroRail would be a good idea because of the reasons Tom listed, that costs would be too high and the demand isn't near high enough. However in the future, as the population of the city grows and technology advances, it seems like it would be a viable option.