Capital Metro considers first fare increases since 2010

Capital Metro is considering changing its fare structure, including raising fares for the first time since 2010.

If approved, the changes would increase the agency's base fare in 2015 from $1 to $1.25 for local bus service and from $2.75 to $3.50 for MetroRail. It would also increase the cost of the seven-day pass from $9 to $11.25 in 2015 and increase the 31-day pass from $30 to $33 in 2014 and increase again to $41.25 in 2015.

Capital Metro could also implement a new premium bus service fare of $1.50 for MetroRapid bus service, which is set to start in early 2014 and provide rapid service on North Lamar Boulevard, Burnet Road, South Lamar Boulevard and South Congress Avenue. The base cost would increase to $1.75 in 2015.

The recommendations come from consultant Nancy Edmonson, who reviewed the fare objectives adopted by the Capital Metro board of directors in 2011. Those objectives include boosting fare recovery to 20 percent from the current 12 percent and establish equitable fares for all riders and services. She proposes to roll out the recommendations in the next three years.

Edmonson said reaching a 20 percent fare recovery would be difficult. If the board wanted to achieve that goal by fiscal year 2018, she said the board would have to keep increasing fares by 30 percent each year. With the changes she is proposing, the agency could increase its fare recovery rise to about 14 percent.

"Fares would have to move a whole lot to have as much impact as you want," she said. "It takes huge increases to make that fare recovery number move around a whole lot. Maybe it's time for a discussion on what is realistic."

Board Chair Mike Martinez said with the agency's rate structure, he would like to see it stay in the lower end of cost compared to other agencies in the state.

The agency's base fare was 50 cents from 1985 through 2008 and then increased to 75 cents in 2009 and to $1 in 2010. The agency also started charging half-priced fares for seniors and people with disabilities in 2011.

Edmonson said Capital Metro has some breathing room because its fares are so low, and the agency has one of the lowest base fares compared to other peer cities such as Fort Worth; San Antonio; Houston; Denver; Tucson, Ariz. and Kansas City, Mo. Dallas and Sacramento, Calif. have some of the highest base fares at $2.50.

"You have room to go up and not overburden people or be out of line with what your peers are doing," she said.

John-Michael Cortez, Capital Metro's manager of community involvement, said that in the past several months, staff have talked with customers about the challenges and benefits of the agency's current fare structure. Cortez said customers want more convenient options to pay and more places to purchase passes in the community. He said customers like having a $1 fare because it means they do not need change.

Capital Metro will develop a community information and feedback campaign in the next few days regarding the fare structure and increases and roll that out this summer. Staff will report back to the board in September during the fiscal year budget discussion for any fare adjustments to be considered for adoption.

By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.


Photo of Austin Community College pharmacy students preparing vaccines
Austin Public Health ramps up COVID-19 booster shot offerings, prepares for pediatric vaccines

High-risk individuals who received Pfizer are Moderna doses six months ago or more are now eligible for boosters—as are most recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The first-ever Williamson County Fair and Rodeo opens its gates to guests Oct. 21 with live music, carnival rides, food vendors, rodeo events and more. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Inaugural Williamson County Fair and Rodeo underway; delivery drones coming to Friso and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 22.

Rock Rose Avenue in Domain Northside
British fragrance house Jo Malone London to open and 5 other stores coming soon to The Domain, Domain Northside

Check out these new stores, including international fashion giant Gucci, coming soon to North Austin.

Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey briefed City Council on Austin's spending of more than $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding on homelessness Oct. 21. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Officials share outlook of 3-year plan to house 3,000 homeless people in Austin

Although the path to build more than 1,000 new spaces for those without shelter will take time, officials believe the goals are achievable.

Photo off APD sign
Austin police cadet academy review notes positive strides but says instructors lack buy-in to 'reimagined' concept

Reforms at the Austin Police Department academy are mixed so far, while the department and outside evaluators agree on several potential improvements going forward.

A $6.7 million budget amendment was approved by consent at the Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 21. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees approve $6.7 million in budget amendments

A $6.7 million budget amendment was approved by consent at the Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 21. The budget amendment was requested to cover planned expenses for Career and Technical Education projects, instructional professional development, equipment, substitute teachers and the increase of insurance premium costs.

Some of these projects have been previously accounted for under the 2018 bond plan, while others were recommended by district staff. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Round Rock ISD board approves campus infrastructural improvement contracts

At the Oct. 21 meeting of the Round Rock ISD board of trustees, several projects to renovate or improve infrastructure of campus facilities were approved.

North Austin home under construction
Homes prices across Northwest Austin fall for third straight month

The median home price in Northwest Austin dropped to its lowest figure since March 2021.

Cumby Group is planning development for three adjacent multifamily projects on Manor Road in East Austin, including The Emma apartments. (Courtesy Cumby Group)
3 years in, Austin is falling behind on goals in affordable housing plan

From 2018-20, the city only reached 12% of its 10-year goal to build thousands of new homes and rental units.

Taco Palenque is now open as drive-thru only in Round Rock. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Taco Palenque opens in Round Rock; Plano ISD considering two draft calendars for 2022-23 school year and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 21.

The Austin Transit Partnership is exploring above- and below-ground options for a transit center at the East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley intersection. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)
Project Connect plans to explore above-, below-ground options for East Riverside/Pleasant Valley Transit Center

After hosting a community design workshop, the group overseeing Project Connect designs is moving forward with options for both an underground and above-ground station at the intersection.

Medici Roasting
Local coffee chain Medici Roasting opens cafe in The Domain

Medici Roasting is now open in The Domain inside the Flatiron Domain building.