More transit options to be available to Northwest Austin commuters in 2017

Capital Metro operates several Express bus routes between the Leander, Lakeline and Northwest Austin areas to downtown Austin using Express buses and Park & Rides.

Capital Metro operates several Express bus routes between the Leander, Lakeline and Northwest Austin areas to downtown Austin using Express buses and Park & Rides.

1On weekends, the drive from Jeremiah Bentley’s Anderson Mill home to his office at Hwy. 290 and I-35 takes 18 minutes. But during weekday rush hour that commute is between 35 and 45 minutes as he traverses the entire length of US 183 in Northwest Austin.

“I get it pretty much the entire length of the traffic jam,” he said. “The way I’ve dealt with it before is to leave super early.”

Bentley, who is the senior manager of marketing and community affairs for Texas Mutual Insurance Co., will soon have another commute option when his company begins a ridesharing program through Capital Metro.

Texas Mutual is one of several companies working with nonprofit Movability Austin, which helps companies find mobility and parking solutions for their employees. Options include providing discounted transit passes, setting up rideshares in vanpools, telecommuting or offering flexible schedules.

Movability Austin Program Manager Alix Scarborough said about 90,000 employees commute to downtown Austin, and most drive alone during peak periods. She said Movability Austin members, including Texas Mutual, commit to a 20 percent reduction in the number of a company’s employees driving alone to work.

For many employers, the cost of providing parking for all employees is no longer feasible, she said.

“As the Facebooks of the world and other high-tech companies are starting to squeeze more people into fewer square feet, they’re finding they’re running into those [parking] allotments a lot faster when it comes to parking,” Scarborough said.

When Movability Austin first meets with an employer, it surveys the company’s employees about which commute options they are interested in. Next the company will get a plan with a range of options that employees could try, including using transit.

Scarborough said she often meets Northwest Austin residents who are unaware they have public transit options so close to home.

“This is one of the best areas of town to be served by commuter transit options,” she said. “Most people assume if they can’t see the bus stop near their front door it’s probably not nearby.”

nwa-2016-11-14-2

Express bus changes


In 2017, Northwest Austin residents will have even more options to catch an Express bus from one of five area Park & Rides when Capital Metro will launch two new bus routes and add new trips to existing routes. Once the MoPac express toll lanes fully open, the Express buses will be even more efficient as well as operate longer hours, said Caitlin D’Alton, a transportation planner with Capital Metro.

“Currently we really limit for the most part the hours because we’re constrained by the congestion on the corridors we operate on,” she said.

One of the new routes will operate from a new Park & Ride that Capital Metro created at the New Life Church parking lot near Howard Lane and MoPac. Route 980 will operate from the Park & Ride to downtown Austin. D’Alton said the route could provide some relief to MetroRail service, which often sees overcrowded trains in peak hours.

“We saw this as an opportunity to attract a new market,” she said. “Rail is a very attractive option, and depending on where you’re traveling it’s very useful. This service provides another option.”

The second new route, 981, will operate from the Great Hills Park & Ride at the Great Hills Baptist Church parking lot. Both routes will operate only during peak hours.

Capital Metro is also planning to roll out new trips on existing Express bus routes 982, 985 and 987. Route 983 will be eliminated because of underuse, but D’Alton said it was also a duplicate route and passengers will be able to take a similar route.

For some passengers, the Express buses will drop them off in downtown Austin first versus at The University of Texas because the buses will use the MoPac express lane, D’Alton said.

“We have heard feedback from our customers that they would like to have the option of getting to downtown first,” D’Alton said. “… We thought it was a good time to put in that service and open up a new market.”
By Amy Denney
Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and then senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition and covering transportation. She is now managing editor for the nine publications in the Central Texas area.


MOST RECENT

The Texas Legislature is responsible for drawing lines for new state and federal districts. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Redistricting process affecting every level of government gets underway in 2021

The state's process is largely a political one, while the city's process is left to an independent commission.

Photo of the Travis County sign
Travis County votes to accept application for Silicon Silver development incentives agreement

The company behind the project will be named once it submits an application and pays a $150,000 fee—the same as Tesla paid to apply for its hefty 2020 agreement.

Previous headliners included Cody Johnson, Turnpike Troubadours, Aaron Watson and Mark Chestnutt, among others. (Courtesy KOKEFest)
KOKEFest releases dates in Hutto; Marisol's Mexican Grill taking orders in Georgetown and more area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Williamson County will add two new justice courts over the next two years. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County looks to add two new justice courts

The county will request state legislative approval to add a new district court and a new county court of law, officials said.

Austin ISD reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases the week of Jan. 4, but that number has decreased for two consecutive weeks, according to the district. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD sees 70% drop in on-campus students over past 2 weeks after district asks families to stay home

The district saw a 11,839-student decline in on-campus learning as AISD families opted for online learning from Jan. 12-22.

City officials are facing growing pressure to address the growing visibility of homelessness in Austin. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sanctioned homeless camp proposal gains attention from Austin leaders as pressure mounts

Mayor Steve Adler said the urgent need for shelter space and housing could overrule initial objections to sanctioned homeless encampments.

See how COVID-19 continues to impact Travis County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Despite drop in hospital admissions, Travis County adds 4,039 new COVID-19 cases over past 7 days

Overall, Travis County has reported 65,507 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Following feedback received during town hall meetings and the board's Jan. 21 meeting, the PfISD board of trustees will discuss amended proposals more in-depth at the February workshop, scheduled for Feb. 4. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Amid Pflugerville ISD growth, residents weigh in on rezoning proposals

Following feedback received during town hall meetings and the board's Jan. 21 meeting, the PfISD board of trustees will discuss amended proposals more in depth at the workshop scheduled for Feb. 4.

Here are the latest coronavirus case count updates in Williamson County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Williamson County nears 30,000 total confirmed COVID-19 cases

Here are the latest coronavirus case count updates in Williamson County.

Construction at Q2 Stadium is on schedule to be completed by late March or early April. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin FC will play at newly named Q2 Stadium starting this summer

Austin FC announced the naming partnership with Austin-based tech company Q2 Holdings Inc. at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 25.