Proposed changes to bus routes are a result of the Connections 2025 10-year service plan that board members approved in February. Some changes, including the elimination of the MetroRapid premium fare and increased MetroRapid bus frequency—have already been implemented in 2017.
Of the agency’s 82 routes, only 38 bus routes will not have changes, Capital Metro planner Lawrence Deeter said.
“We see a lot of benefit for our customers,” he said. “Our customers asked us for a network that is easier to understand.”
Some routes will see minor changes, such as increased frequency or slight realignments to make them straighter. However, others will have more significant changes, such as eliminating duplicate routes, Deeter said.
One of the most significant changes will be increasing bus frequency on 10 routes that will become part of the agency’s high-frequency network. On these high-frequent routes, bus service will be every 15 minutes seven days a week. The exception is on MetroRapid routes 801 and 803, which already offer 10-minute service weekdays.
“This [high-frequent network] is really the cornerstone of the proposed new network,” Deeter said.
Improved frequency, Deeter said, means riders won’t have to check bus schedules and can just walk to a bus stop on routes in that high-frequency service network and expect a bus within a few minutes.
“It means better access for our current riders,” Deeter said. “Four out of five would be within a short 10-minute walk to frequent service. That’s 80 percent of current riders benefiting and having better access to jobs and education.”
On average, riders under the new system could expect to wait an average of 7 minutes for a high-frequency bus versus 30-40 minutes currently.
“We currently have a system that is mostly designed as a one-seat ride,” he said. “These new routes work together for [transfers].”
Only two routes—reverse commute routes 122 and 970 that saw fewer than 10 riders—will be completely eliminated. Other routes proposed for elimination will be replaced with new routes or combined with routes that already operate on the same roadway, Deeter said.
These include new routes on 35th and 45th streets as well as on Rundberg, Anderson and Slaughter lanes.
With these proposed changes, Deeter said the agency expects ridership to increase. In 2015, the agency saw a 30 percent increase in ridership on the first few bus routes it added to the high-frequency network, he said.
And after Capital Metro dropped the bus fare on MetroRapid routes in January, ridership also rose 30 percent through July, Deeter said.
Not all proposed Connections 2025 changes will occur next June. Deeter said the agency is still working on the logistics of combining routes 1 and 3 with MetroRapid routes 801 and 803, respectively, to eliminate route duplication.
Future changes include adding new MetroRapid bus routes for more east-west service and eliminating routes in areas where the density doesn’t warrant traditional bus service, Deeter said. In those areas, Capital Metro will first implement innovation zones to find out what other types of transportation service, such as ridesharing or ridehailing, might make more sense. Deeter said those pilot programs are slated to being in 2019.
On Nov. 15, Capital Metro’s board of directors will vote on the proposed changes. Additional information and maps are available at www.capmetro.org/june2018. Riders may also email questions and feedback to [email protected] or call 512-474-1200.
Upcoming public meetings
- Sept. 25 • 5:30-7 p.m. • Howson Branch Library, 2500 Exposition Blvd., Austin
Served by Routes 21, 22
- Sept. 26 • 5:30-7 p.m. • Pleasant Hill Branch Library, 211 E. William Cannon Drive, Austin
Served by Routes 1, 201, 333, 801
- Sept. 27 • 5:30-7 p.m. • Hampton Branch Library, 5125 Convict Hill Road, Austin
Served by Routes 111, 333
- Sept. 28 • noon
Online webinar registration
- Oct. 2 • noon
Online webinar registration
- Oct. 2 • 5:30-7 p.m. • Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane, Austin
Served by Routes 10, 325
- Nov. 1 • noon-12:30 p.m. • Capital Metro headquarters, 2910 E. Fifth St., Austin
Served by Routes 17, 300