MetroRapid buses get priority along new routes

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For some, riding the bus will be a quicker. For others, you may have your foot on the brake a little longer.

MetroRapid will two routes running from the north to south ends of the city. Route 801 begins near Howard and Interstate 35, running down Lamar Boulevard, Guadalupe Street, Lavaca Street and Congress Avenue. Route 803 will run from the Domain to Southwest Austin.

With the route crossing so many intersections, the buses could affect your drive, seeing as how MetroRapid gets priority at stoplights.

Austin’s transportation department said there are 106 total stoplights on the current MetroRapid bus route. Nearly 80 of them are programmed so that if a bus is behind schedule, the driver can request the light stay green for six seconds longer.

“To tell you the truth, traffic’s so heavy right now I don’t know that drivers would notice the difference,” one motorist said.

Others disagree.

“Six seconds can hold you up. That’s a lot of cars that can go through a light in six seconds.”

At the busy intersection of Ben White Boulevard and Congress Avenue, six cars were able to drive through the intersection in a six second time frame.

The transportation department says drivers really shouldn’t notice the difference, and the reason for it is to provide better service for those riding the bus.

“I’m willing to give it some time just to see how it works out, but the key is they gotta get the ridership up,” one man said.

Getting first priority at intersections is just one feature of MetroRapid buses. The buses will also be equipped with WiFi so rider can get work done while on your way to work. Riders can also use their smartphone to buy tickets through a new app. When you board the bus, you don’t need a paper ticket, you can just scan your phone.

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