Capital Metro proposes to eliminate sole bus stop in Westlake area

Capital Metro expanded its ridesharing pilot program Pickup on Monday, Oct. 2.

Capital Metro expanded its ridesharing pilot program Pickup on Monday, Oct. 2.

Westlake area resident Sheryl Westwick said she has relied on the Capital Metro Route 30 bus for the past 25 years.

Westwick is visually impaired, does not own a car and said she depends on the Walsh Tarlton Lane at Bee Caves Road stop to get anywhere, especially to the downtown Austin programs where she is a volunteer.

In its Connections 2025 plan, Capital Metro is proposing to delete a section of Route 30 that will discontinue service from the Barton Creek Mall to the South Congress Transit Center, cutting out the Walsh Tarlton bus stop, spokesperson Melissa Ayala said.

“[My family] picked this neighborhood because of its excellent schools, sidewalks and very good bus route,” she said. “[Route] 30 has been my constant companion all these years. Its [elimination] will greatly diminish my life.”

Connections 2025

Connections 2025 is a long-range planning study that is updated every five years, with the 2010 plan responsible for the agency’s Metro Rapid Service and additional routes downtown, she said.

“It’s time to look at service again and see what’s most efficient,” Ayala said.

The draft plan was presented to Capital Metro’s board of directors in August, and she said the agency has held community meetings and reviewed resident surveys on the proposal since then. Revisions to the proposed plan based on citizen feedback will be presented to the board Nov. 16, with the agency’s directors slated to vote on the plan Dec. 14, she said.

“The idea of the plan is to add in as much frequency, reliability and connections as [participants suggested] in the community meetings,” Ayala said.

She said citizens were polled as to whether they would prefer more frequent bus service or better coverage of areas “because it is a challenge to offer both with the agency’s resources.”

“Frequency was the priority,” Ayala said. “There are some trade-offs.”

The Connections 2025 proposal for Route 30 would increase frequency and reconfigure the route to connect Barton Creek Square, Zilker Park and downtown, she said.

Eanes ISD

Superintendent Tom Leonard, on behalf of Eanes ISD, submitted a letter to Capital Metro on Oct. 24, requesting the agency reconsider its deletion of the Walsh Tarlton bus stop, said Molly May, the district’s executive director of special education.

“We specifically purchased land on Walsh Tarlton because that is the only access point for public transportation in the Eanes School District,” she said.

The district’s Adult Transition Services facility—which opened in 2012 to assist adult students with disabilities to focus on work, community involvement and continuing education—is near the bus stop.

“Our students not only use the [bus] stop to get to job placement but once they get to the [Capital Metro] downtown hub, they can transfer to any Austin Community College campus,” May said.

The stop is also within walking distance of three EISD campuses as well as auxiliary departments like the district’s transportation building.

May said EISD employees use the Walsh Tarlton bus stop to access school district jobs.

“It is not only a benefit for students but employees,” she said.

May said she anticipates the district will continue to pursue its request to retain the Walsh Tarlton bus stop prior to Capital Metro’s meeting in November.

“It is really important to remember [the Connections 2025 plan] isn’t a done deal yet,” Ayala said.