Round Rock City Council approved the extension of its service agreement with Capital Metro through Sept. 30, 2022. This two-month extension comes with a cost adjustment to the original agreement of $388,201 and was approved by the council at its meeting Sept. 9.

This extension raises the total cost of the agreement to $5,246,443 from $4,858,242 to cover the $186,261 in fare box revenue shortfall and $201,940 cost of running the buses for an additional two months. These funds are paid out of the city's general fund.

Transportation Director Gary Hudder said the extension was proposed as a means of lining up the budgets between the city and Capital Metro to cover a shortfall in the fare box. The extension also allows the program to coincide with the end of the fiscal year for both the city of Round Rock and Capital Metro.

"Part of our agreement with Capital Metro requires a certain level of fare box recovery, which we were unable to do during the COVID[-19] downturn," Hudder said at the Sept. 7 packet meeting. "Funds are covered in the program to refresh counts. We received a significant amount of federal COVID[-19] relief funds for the transit program, so we have the funds available to cover this."

Hudder said the shortfall was caused by a lack of ridership in the area, as Capital Metro did not run routes for long stretches of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically, he said, the city has never fully reached the projected fare revenue to be paid to Capital Metro, but the pandemic severely impacted this amount, and the transportation authority "wasn't happy."

He also said the city was not in control of whether Capital Metro routes were continuing to service the area during the pandemic, in response to a question about responsibility from Mayor Craig Morgan. Morgan also asked if the contract does not provide exceptions for extraordinary circumstances, such as the pandemic.

"I get it if we caused it; there is no doubt," Morgan said at the packet meeting. "I'm not against Capital Metro, I'm a strong proponent of the transit system. But I do have some trouble with that this wasn't due to the city. That's $186,000 that maybe we could use for something else."

The city has contracted with Capital Metro since 2017 to provide public transportation to its citizens, both locally and between Round Rock and Austin.