Capital Metro to increase MetroRapid frequency, add 16 new stations

Capital Metro is planning to build eight stop pairs for a total of 16 new stations along its Capital MetroRapid bus routes.

Capital Metro is planning to build eight stop pairs for a total of 16 new stations along its Capital MetroRapid bus routes.

The city of Austin’s public transit agency plans to increase frequency and add 16 new stations along its MetroRapid bus routes by August 2017.

Capital Metro’s board approved a $10.2 million contract July 25 with Nova Bus to buy 15 new buses: seven 60-foot accordion-style buses and eight 40-foot buses. These will serve routes 801 and 803 running between North and South Austin.

Expanded hours and increased frequency on MetroRapid is planned to start in August 2017 and are also included in the proposed fiscal year 2016-17 budget. Proposed service changes are subject to Capital Metro's board of directors approving the budget Sept. 26.

“[The changes] will make the service more attractive across the board,” said Todd Hemingson, Capital Metro’s vice president of strategic planning and development. “It’s increased freedom. You [will be able to] walk out and know the bus will come at any moment.”

Faster service

Frequency would increase from running every 13 minutes to 10 minutes on weekdays and every 15 minutes on weekends. Buses would operate with longer hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Changes will amount to an additional 70,000 new service hours each year, Hemingson said.

He said planning for MetroRapid began in 2008, and the agency had estimated the time it would take for buses to run from one end of the route to the other.

“The time we assumed turned out to be longer because of increased congestion,” Hemingson said. “… We really need to ramp up our service. The bottom line is we’re trying to get to service every 10 minutes.”

When the MetroRapid project came in under budget, the Federal Transit Administration—which awarded the agency $38.1 million for the $47.6 million project—told Capital Metro it could not use the remaining funds to add new stations or buses to increase frequency.

Capital Metro was later denied another federal grant to increase service, and the city of Austin also did not provide funding under the Quarter Cent Fund, which is funding that stemmed from the failed 2000 light-rail proposition. Capital Metro agreed in 2001 to share 25 percent of its annual revenue—money previously allocated toward light rail—with the city to fund transportation projects.

Reducing stop gap

Capital Metro will also build eight station pairs for a total of 16 new stops before expanded service begins in August 2017.

Two stop pairs would be on Route 803, which serves Burnet Road and South Lamar Boulevard from The Domain to Westgate shopping center. Route 803—operating along North Lamar Boulevard and South Congress Avenue between the Tech Ridge Park & Ride and Southpark Meadows—would get the remainder.

Hemingson said agency staffers analyzed station locations by using ridership data from MetroRapid as well as on local bus routes. Capital Metro also gathered public input, such as from Wheatsville Co-Op, which advocated for a stop outside its store at 3101 Guadalupe St., Austin.

“There was a gap in the network for MetroRapid they wanted to see resolved,” he said. “[After] we were doing planning of these stops a number of years ago, these corridors ... exploded with growth. There are developments there now that we didn’t know were coming.”

He cited Camden Lamar Heights on North Loop and Lamar and the area surrounding the Broken Spoke on South Lamar as examples.

In the following interactive map, the locations in red are proposed Route 803 stops. Locations in black are proposed Route 801 stops:

By Amy Denney

Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.


An aerial rendering of the schematic design for Dripping Springs ISD's fifth elementary school.
Plans progress on Dripping Springs ISD bond projects, new school construction in 2020

Construction will move forward at several Dripping Springs ISD school sites, both new and existing, this year.

(Courtesy Whataburger)
Whataburger opens new location on East Oltorf Street

This is the burger chain's 19th location in Austin.

Travis County commissioners participated in budget hearings during the fiscal year 2018-19 budget process. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis Central Appraisal District board will host in-person meetings for informal protests in 2020

The Travis Central Appraisal District board of trustees voted to bring back in-person meetings for informal protests this year.

Residents can expect mailers to arrive by mid-March requesting they participate in the 2020 census. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)
Austin-Travis County officials establish nonprofit to raise funds to support complete census count

Officials in Austin and Travis County have formed a complete count committee to support the 2020 census effort.

Austin Transportation installed "No parking" signs in 2019 on South Congress Avenue to discourage illegal parking in bicycle lanes. (Courtesy Google Maps)
Austin to start issuing tickets to drivers who park in bike-only lanes in effort to improve safety

Drivers who illegal park in a bicycle lane could receive a $300 fine and have their vehicles towed.

A photo of the Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees having a discussion at a meeting.
Dripping Springs ISD discusses next steps for bond advisory committee selection

Dripping Springs ISD's board of trustees is ready to consider applications for the district's new bond oversight group.

The first two Proterra electric buses arrived in Austin, and Capital Metro will roll them out in late January. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Capital Metro starts electrifying its transit fleet; first 2 electric buses go into service Jan. 26

Capital Metro will roll out the first two electric buses in late January.

A photo of latte art.
Summer Moon Coffee to open at Circle C Ranch

A new coffee shop is set to open in a previous South Austin location of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Austin City Council is considering an end to enforcement of low level marijuana possession laws. (SHELBY SAVAGE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER)
Support grows among Austin City Council members who want to end local penalties for low-level marijuana possession

If successful, the Austin Police Department would no longer hand out arrests or citations for possession of marijuana with no intent to distribute.

Delays have pushed back completion of the much-anticipated Bee Creek Sports Complex to spring 2022. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Utility and other hurdles delay Bee Creek Sports Complex

Though it was initially planned to be ready for play by 2020, delays pertaining to construction and, more specifically, to water service, have pushed the completion date of the much-anticipated Bee Creek Sports Complex to spring 2022.

zanjero park water
Travis County commissioners pursue easement to bring water to Las Lomitas subdivision

Travis County commissioners are working to address colonias—unincorporated areas in the county that lack basic utilities.

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Austin Public Health confirms city’s first rubella case since 1999

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999.

Back to top