North Lamar Transit Center upgrades nearing completion – but there are still no public toilets

Capital Metro is putting the finishing touches on a half-million-dollar renovation of the North Lamar transit hub. The facility was built as a Park and Ride in 1986 – a year after CapMetro was founded – near the intersection of North Lamar Boulevard and US 183.

The rehabilitation project is designed as a short-term solution for a facility that could potentially see more than $ 100 million in upgrades. Austin’s two light rail lines are slated to end at the NLTC when they begin operating later this decade.

For now, the NLTC serves as a connection point for CapMetro’s local bus lines 1, 323, 350, 383 and MetroRapid Route 801.

The renovation included:

  • repair of the roof of the pavilion
  • new lighting
  • two new Capital Metro bus shelters
  • additional benches and bins
  • removal of a brick wall obscuring an unobstructed view through the pavilion
  • cash machine and ePaper digital message sign

Capital Metro still plans to install a sign on the pavilion, add security cameras and install additional lighting. When completed, the cost of the project will total approximately $ 570,000.

A brick wall at the transit center was demolished to provide an unobstructed view through the pavilion.

Most people moving through the transit center seemed to appreciate the improvements.

“It’s a lot better than before,” said Douglas Curtis, who had just stepped off a bus. “It was really bad.”

“Out of 1 in 10, I give it a 7,” said commuter Aldric Yett. “Before, it was a 4.”

Other runners said they wanted the agency to heed long-standing calls to add public toilets to the NLTC.

“We all need a toilet because sometimes we can sit on the bus for up to two hours to go somewhere,” said Nellie Elizabeth Moore after getting off.

“Anytime you don’t have a public toilet and it takes an hour and a half to get anywhere in town, people are going to have to pee,” Keiarra Ortiz said while waiting for a bus.

A small, self-contained toilet at the NLTC is locked and requires a badge to access. The facility is reserved for bus drivers and other agency employees.

Capital Metro told KUT that although it has not included a public toilet in transportation facilities in the past, the agency is considering doing so.

“We have presented our board of directors with the review of public toilets over the years and are working to identify how they might be integrated into our facilities in the future, especially as part of Project Connect,” said CapMetro in a press release.

The NLTC remains a focal point for Project Connect, the $ 7.1 billion transit expansion approved by voters in November 2020. The main feature of Project Connect – a pair of light rail lines – will begin at once. at the NLTC, will head south and diverged at Republic Place in downtown Austin.

    A section of the Project Connect map showing the orange and blue lines ending at the North Lamar transit hub

A section of the Project Connect map showing the orange and blue lines ending at the North Lamar transit center. Future phases of transit expansion require the Orange Line to continue north to Tech Ridge Park and Ride.

The first plans call for the light rail platform to be installed next to the NLTC in the median of North Lamar Boulevard. Planners are currently focusing on how to connect this central hub to bus services in an area designed to prioritize vehicle traffic.

“They present challenges for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Jana McCann, architect and urban designer hired by CapMetro to work on the project, during a community design workshop to gather public feedback.

A presentation slide from Capital Metro showing how plans call for the orange and blue lines to arrive next to the North Lamar transit hub

This presentation slide from Capital Metro shows how the plans call for the orange and blue lines to arrive next to the North Lamar transit hub. The designers are trying to develop a way for people in the transit center to cross Lamar and reach the railway platform without having to dodge traffic.

The construction of the light rail station is still a long way off, but is expected to usher in big changes.

“The North Lamar Transit Hub station will likely represent an investment of over $ 100 million at any given time,” Randy Clarke, CEO of Capital Metro, recently told members of the board of directors. “You talk about a large regional transit center. “