Jeff Wood at The Overhead Wire has been running a series on the history and politics of Austin's urban rail endeavors. Today he's posted an immaculate argument for running the line up Guadalupe and Lamar rather than out to Mueller. The aerial photo below, which contrasts the proposed line (orange) and a Lavaca/Guadalupe/Lamar alignment using current bus ridership, makes the case succinctly:
Guadalupe and Lamar are at capacity and have been at capacity for decades. Planners are shying away from them, evidently because they are too congested. But "being too congested" is the reason to make this massive investment in rail in the first place. Reserved guideway transit is the only way to significantly increase the capacity of these prime gateways to UT, the Capitol Complex and downtown. Spending a couple hundred millioin on the four-mile segment from UT to Mueller is largely a waste at this point -- that's not a congested route, and it doesn't have much existing transit ridership.