Capital Metro considers more frequent bus service, new routes

Consolidating part of the local bus Route 1 and MetroRapid Route 801 are in Capital Metro's proposed service plan changes.

Consolidating part of the local bus Route 1 and MetroRapid Route 801 are in Capital Metro's proposed service plan changes.

Updated Feb. 24

Capital Metro’s board is nearing the finish line on a more than yearlong process to update the agency’s transit service plan for Austin.

The goal of the 10-year plan, called Connections 2025, was not only to increase ridership but also look for ways to help residents access Capital Metro’s bus and rail services. Capital Metro also seeks to have a financially stable plan as the agency’s main source of revenue—sales tax—has seen a slow-down in growth, said Todd Hemingson, Capital Metro’s vice president of strategic planning.

Increasing the frequency of bus service is the agency’s top priority and will likely be achieved by consolidating low-ridership and duplicate routes, reallocating money for increased service in areas with more demand, and adding new MetroRapid bus routes that will eventually operate on a 10-minute frequency.

“In a world with many mobility choices we need to be competitive and have an attractive service, and frequency is the best way to do that,” Hemingson said.

The board will vote on the Connections 2025 plan during its Feb. 27 meeting.



Further feedback needed

Hemingson said approval of the plan does not equate to approval of the service changes. He said the plan is to be used as a framework for making future decisions on service changes, and each proposed change would require an additional six-month study that includes public input.

“It’s a two-step process: the first is the plan approval to provide guidance, and the second step is the service change analysis and a second board action,” he said.

Public input meetings are expected to begin this summer and continue through September at which point the board would have to make another vote to finalize any service changes. Implementation of the plan will begin in spring 2018.

Lawrence Deeter, Connections 2025 project manager, said resident input would be used for determining stop locations on new routes and how bus stations might look.

Part of Route 1 and all of Route 3 would be eliminated under the proposal and absorbed by MetroRapid routes 801 and 803.

Deeter said station spacing would go from every quarter-mile on routes 1 and 3 to about every one-third mile on the consolidated routes after new stations are added or existing stations are relocated.

He said Capital Metro's goal to have transit service within a half-mile walking distance.

“A half-mile is still within walkable distance,” Deeter said. “The traditional thought is people are willing to walk up to three-quarters of a mile.”

Alternative transportation

In areas where service might be eliminated—Route 19 in Northwest Austin, Routes 21/22 in West Austin, part of Route 30 near Rollingwood and part of Route 333 in Southwest Austin—Capital Metro could create innovation zones to study alternative transportation options when a standard fixed-route with a 40-foot bus is not adequate.

Options would include ride-hailing companies or on-demand service such as Chariot, in which users request shuttle service via a smartphone app.

Some residents have been critical of proposed changes, namely route eliminations.

Rosewood resident Heidi Ross said she opposes eliminating Route 21/22 in the Tarrytown area because her son and his friends take that route to school. She said she is pleased to know Capital Metro would not eliminate any service until other options are proposed as part of the innovation zone concept.

“I urge you to support that solution where there’s no loss of service along the corridor,” Ross said.

Public input

Great Hills resident Cindy Hintikka said she wishes the board would increase service west of MoPac instead of eliminating routes.

“This is simply going in the wrong direction,” she said. “We must get people out of cars and into buses.”

Zenobia Joseph has repeatedly told the board about her displeasure with the proposed elimination of Route 392 in North and Northwest Austin in favor of more service on routes 383 and 323. She said the changes would also reduce the number of routes—from five to two routes—making stops at the Lamar Transit Center at Lamar Boulevard and US 183.

“It would be an injustice to the people of North Austin to consolidate those bus routes and put them into the middle of five lanes of traffic,” she said. “You will force all of the individuals who normally exit the bus at North Lamar Transit Center onto the streets.”

A map of the draft plan is available at www.connections2025.org.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to provide more accurate information on stop spacing on routes 801 and 803.
By


MOST RECENT

The first COVID-19 vaccines are on their way to Austin. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)
Thousands of Austin-area healthcare workers will receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by mid-December

The Austin area is set to receive 13,650 doses of the vaccine by mid-December for healthcare workers in Travis, Hays and Williamson counties.

Foodie's Corner and Weikel's Bakery are now open in Leander. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Foodie's Corner, Weikel's Bakery open in Leander and more Austin-area news

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

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin Public Health leaders offer insight on COVID-19 vaccine distribution schedule

Local physicians could administer does fo the Pfizer vaccine to high-priority individuals as soon as Dec. 17, one official said.

Local Austin act the Peterson Brothers perform at the historic Continental Club in 2019. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council experiment could send $15 million in hotel taxes to 'iconic' music venues, restaurants

The move represents the latest attempt by the city to save live music venues and restaurants that are struggling through the pandemic.

A proposed mixed-use development at the Brodie Oaks Shopping Center in Southwest Austin would invest $1 billion over a decade and could start construction in 2022 or 2023. (Rendering courtesy Lionheart Places/WP Visions LLC San Antonio)
$1 billion development project on its way to Southwest Austin along Barton Creek Greenbelt

The project would include 3 million square feet of hotel, residential, office, retail and restaurant space along with 13.7 acres of green space.

Early voting opens Dec. 3 for runoff elections for Austin City Council and the Austin ISD board of trustees. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin runoff elections: Who is on the ballot, where to vote and when polls are open

Polls open at 7 a.m. Dec. 3 for early voting in the runoff election. Two Austin City Council positions and two Austin ISD board seats are open.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
First allotment of COVID-19 vaccinations expected to arrive in Texas in mid-December

About 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been allotted to the state of Texas and will arrive the week of Dec. 14.

Frontyard Brewing opened Nov. 14 in Spicewood. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
New brewery opens in Spicewood and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community updates from Central Texas.

Traffic moves along the upper decks of I-35 near downtown Austin on Dec. 1. The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking public feedback on a $4.9 billion project to improve the 8-mile stretch of I-35 through downtown. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
TxDOT is spending billions to fix I-35 through downtown Austin, but some community members say the state is wrong in its approach

A report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute released Dec. 1 said the 8-mile stretch of I-35 from Hwy. 290 to SH 71 is the most congested roadway in the state.

Pravo Construction opened a new headquarters at Two Barton Skyway, 1601 MoPac, Austin, on Nov. 1. (Courtesy CBRE)
Now open in Austin: New coffee shop, offices and medical clinics arrive south of river

New businesses operating in Austin include MilkRun, which delivers dairy, meat, produce and other products from local farmers to customers at home.

Graphic of a coronavirus unit
COVID-19 rates after Thanksgiving have yet to climb, but experts say spike could still be coming

As Austin awaits a vaccine whose first doses could arrive by the end of 2020, health officials say the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings on the spread of the virus could take time to show up.