Officials are working to lay the foundation for transportation options in New Braunfels as the Transit Development Plan nears approval, which combines microtransit and a fixed-route system for a hybrid solution that will evolve in the coming years.

Terms to know

A microtransit transportation system is a more flexible service in which riders can travel anywhere within a set area. In this instance, microtransit would be set to the city limits.

A fixed-route system has more structure to it and would establish a handful of set routes throughout the city that cover “key areas,” said Ed Elam, vice president and director of transportation for the city’s partner Alliance Transportation Group.

How we got here

Officials with the city and Alliance Transportation Group have worked for most of the year to narrow down the possible transportation options that will be offered through the transit plan while taking into account financial costs for different scenarios and input from residents.

What they’re saying

Based on an online survey taken by nearly 1,000 residents, 54% preferred a fixed-route system, while 24% preferred microtransit. Residents also noted the lack of availability and routes was a barrier to utilizing public transportation.

The cost

Elam presented to City Council on Oct. 16 the city’s estimated operating costs for the two transit system options, which top out at around $3 million.

Additional federal and state funding brings the grand total for both systems to nearly $8 million.

However, the plans are not concrete as the county’s contribution for the systems is unknown.

Diving in deeper

Implementation of the hybrid transit plan is broken down into short-, medium- and long-term phases with an estimated launch of microtransit in about one year.

Following the microtransit implementation and the forthcoming fixed-route additions, city staff will analyze ridership data to make adjustments to routes as needed, Elam said.

In addition to data analysis, city staff will also seek to update the Transit Development Plan every five years to ensure the services provided are effective and efficient, according to agenda documents.

Demand and ridership could also open the door to expanded routes and service areas in the long run.

Next steps

City Council will vote to adopt the Transit Development Plan later this month, kick-starting the one-year timeline to get microtransit up and running throughout New Braunfels.

Following the adoption of the plan, council and staff will determine whether the city will helm the systems or outsource it to a third party.