After listening to rider input since unveiling its new service plan, Capital Metro is reconsidering some changes to bus routes and on Nov. 16 postponed approval of the plan to January.

The agency embarked on an update to its service plan called Connections 2025 a year ago to propose changes aimed at providing more frequency and connections between routes. The draft plan was unveiled Aug. 22.

Capital Metro’s board of directors has already approved two recommendations from its consultant, Transportation Management & Design Inc., to eliminate the premium fare on MetroRapid and Flyer routes and to realign several of its Express bus routes in Northwest Austin to the new MoPac express toll lanes when those open.

Capital Metro Mueller routes Capital Metro is reconsidering changes to bus service in the Mueller development.[/caption]

The board has not yet approved the remainder of the recommendations and postponed that vote to its Jan. 23 board meeting. The postponement comes after dozens of residents contacted Capital Metro over concerns of bus route eliminations.

“Service changes such as these typically do have people who, unfortunately, lose service,” Capital Metro planner Lawrence Deeter said. “We worked really hard as a team to minimize that impact. About 98.5 percent of existing customers served are covered with service within a 1/4-mile walk.”

Capital Metro Lake Austin Capital Metro is reconsidering changes to bus service in the Lake Austin Boulevard area.[/caption]

Based on input, Capital Metro revisited some route eliminations and proposed changes:

  • Route 5: The route will now have peak-only service from South Fifth Street at Westgate Boulevard to The University of Texas.

  • Mueller: A proposed circulator will be replaced with service by routes 10 and 335 along Mueller Boulevard and Berkman Drive. The agency said if the city of Austin upgrades Berkman with transit priority features, it could route a proposed new MetroRapid Route 820 on Berkman.

  • Route 663: The route would be reinstated to UT with 15-minute service in peak hours and 30-minute service in off-peak hours and weekends. A new Route 804 would be shortened and no longer travel west of MoPac. Route 17 would also have shorter service.

Capital Metro Westlake Capital Metro is moving forward on a proposal to eliminate a bus stop in the Westlake area on Route 30.[/caption]

But not all route eliminations were reconsidered. Some routes did not meet minimum standards Capital Metro has set for maintaining service, Deeter said.

“Many [routes] have been poor performers for a while,” he said.

Deeter said the agency prefers to have routes with at least 15 riders per hour, and some routes, including a segment of Route 30 that services Walsh Tarlton Lane and Bee Caves Road near the West Lake Hills and Rollingwood area do not meet that standard, he said.

Several residents spoke at the Nov. 16 board meeting in opposition to the elimination of part of Route 30, saying many area residents, students and employees would be affected, including at Eanes ISD schools, Randalls and an adult transition center.

Capital Metro Tarrytown Capital Metro is moving forward on a proposal to eliminate some bus service in the Tarrytown area.[/caption]

“If you take this bus away, [employees] really don’t have any other dependent way to get to work,” said Carla Rivera, spa manager of Massage Harmony at Walsh Tarlton and Bee Caves.

However, Deeter said Capital Metro staffers will use the postponement to take another look at the routes proposed for elimination to see if there are any other options. He said solutions might include partnering with other organizations to fund the service.

“We’re not done planning or listening,” he said. “We’re trying to continue to think, use innovative, different solutions. Things are changing rapidly in transit, and we want to see if there’s anything out there we can leverage to serve these areas.

Capital Metro Steck and Mesa Capital Metro is moving forward on a plan to eliminate Route 19 that serves Steck Avenue and Mesa Drive.[/caption]

Recommendations to these routes will not change:

  • Route 30: Part of the route along Bee Caves and Walsh Tarlton will be eliminated. Restoring service was not recommended because of low ridership at about 5.6 riders per hour.

  • Routes 21/22: The two routes would discontinue service to Tarrytown on Exposition Boulevard because of low ridership. An alternative to extend Route 335 was not recommended because of low ridership.

  • Route 19: Capital Metro proposed eliminating the route on Steck Avenue and Mesa Drive due to low ridership. However, if the city approves The Grove at Shoal Creek development and the developer provides transit features, the agency would propose to extend a new Route 345 along 45th Street, connecting to MetroRapid routes 801 and 803. Deeter said Capital Metro is still looking at if providing service to the Steck and Mesa area is possible.

  • Routes 333, 315: Capital Metro is still weighing its options for coverage in Southwest Austin. It had proposed to discontinue part of Route 333 west of Brodie to Austin Community College’s Pinnacle campus with service supplied to the campus via Route 315. Options is it considering are alternative routes to possibly connect to the Arbor Trails shopping center or have an on-call zone in which residents would call ahead for service.