October Happy Hour: Electrified Mass Transit with Capital Metro

Sustainability and climate action require much more than just solar, so we’re branching out to spend time on another very important topic this month – public transportation. Transportation accounts for about a third of local greenhouse gas emissions and will be the largest source once Austin Energy is able to retire its portion of the coal-burning Fayette power plant.

So how do we make a dent in all that pollution? And how can we reclaim some of our time (and sanity) lost sitting in Austin’s ever worsening traffic? High capacity, rapid, convenient public transportation offers a solution. This has been an elusive goal for Austin over the years, but Cap Metro, with the support of the City of Austin, is making another go at it in the form of Project Connect. The vision for Project Connect is an interconnected system of public transportation options that connect people to jobs, education, healthcare and the places they love. This system will include fully dedicated transitways, enhanced MetroRail service, MetroRapid corridors, and more Park and Ride facilities. We’ll hear all about Project Connect from Joe Clemens, Deputy Project Manager at Capital Metro.

But that’s not all! Cap Metro is also working to electrify its fleet of buses. This is great news for everyone concerned about local air pollution, as well as climate change, because emissions from diesel vehicles, including buses is particularly harmful. Electric bus technology is now able to serve many of Cap Metro’s bus routes and will soon be able to serve the whole system. Rob Borowski, CapMetro’s Sustainability Officer, will present on the electrification initiative.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM 
Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto Blvd)


Joe Clemens is Deputy Project Manager at Capital Metro. He takes the bus or train everyday between his apartment in Crestview and Capital Metro’s downtown office. “I regularly use the 801 and Red Line. I also use transit into and out of downtown during the weekend.” You may have seen Joe hanging out at one of his favorite music live music venues — Stubbs, Mohawk, Parish, Scoot Inn or Emo’s. Some of his other local faves include Austin’s walkable downtown, Town Lake, Greenbelt, food trucks and craft beer. Joe serves as Capital Metro’s Deputy Project Manager for Project Connect, the region’s high-capacity transit plan. He’s also a representative on the City of Austin’s Housing+Transit+Jobs Action Team, which is focused on equitable development along MetroRapid and MetroRail. 

Prior to Capital Metro, Joe worked in the private sector for 15 years and completed several projects in the alternative analysis/environmental impact study stages of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts process. He’s also managed four bus rapid transit alternative analysis studies in El Paso that received FTA Small Starts funding.  Joe, who grew up in Philadelphia, recalls taking SEPTA buses between his home and high school, starting his freshman year. He also lived in Chicago for three years, where he didn’t own a car. “The elevated ‘El’ train between Chicago’s CBD loop and my Northside apartment was a convenient, congestion-proof way to get to work. Great views too!”

Rob Borowski is Cap Metro’s Sustainability Officer. Rob has been immersed in environmental issues for more than 20 years as coordinator for the Environmental Science Institute, assistant director for University of Texas’ Center for Sustainable Development, coordinator of the Clean Texas program at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and as the first manager for environmental affairs at HEB. He holds Master of Science degrees in community and regional planning and environmental management.

Key Career Accomplishments:

  • Coordinated university research center initiatives to implement multidisciplinary watershed research efforts, and integrated facilities-based energy conservation efforts.
  • Coordinated efforts to implement a multi-year, strategic planning effort for the Galveston Bay Estuary involving local, regional, state and federal agencies and stakeholders.
  • Developed Clean Texas, the first voluntary pollution prevention and sustainability program for cities, federal facilities, large and small businesses, universities and other organizations of its kind, to be co-coordinated and recognized by the state of Texas and the EPA.
  • Managed environmental affairs and implemented the first environmental strategic plan for Texas’ largest private employer, H-E-B Grocery.

Getting There:

Please consider taking the bus to the happy hour. There are many buses within easy walking distance of Scholz Garten. Plan your trip here. If you drive, State Parking Garages can be found next to, behind, and across from Scholz Garten. San Jacinto Blvd., 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and Trinity have parking garage entrances.

Support the Cause:

Although our happy hours are free and open to all, we hope you’ll consider donating to Solar Austin.  Help us keep solar energy growing in the Austin area.  You can purchase a ticket to the happy hour or use the donate button here on our website to avoid fees.