Changes coming to Austin’s transit could impact commuters

The new MetroRapid 803 bus service started August 24, 2014.
File Capital MetroRapid 803 bus (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A big vote on Monday could impact Austin commuters with Capital Metro’s long term transit plan.

The Capital Metro board voted to approve the final plan for Connections 2025, a five-year planning study designed to improve the frequency, reliability and connectivity of the CapMetro bus system. Part of their plan includes tripling the number of frequent routes that run every 15 minutes or less from six routes to 17. Their goal is to make CapMetro service more reliable by improving arrival times.

Thousands of people in the community have been surveyed in three rounds of community meetings. CapMetro says the biggest take away is that riders want more buses, more often.

Some changes have already started like the reduced fare rates for MetroRapid and MetroFlyer routes. All MetroBus, MetroRapid and MetroFlyer services will cost $1.25 for a Single Ride, $2.50 for a Day Pass, $11.25 for a 7-Day Pass and $41.25 for a 31-Day Pass.

The results of the plan is based on community feedback. A new route was added in Manor last year due to the response from the locals.

“In looking at where we could build out this high frequency route network, we looked at corridors that have been high demand and corridors that we know today are already performing really well. We are looking to invest in that some more. So the corridors that have been performing well, they have good ridership, we’ve seen demand there are some of the ones we are looking to add more buses to,” says Melissa Ayala, with CapMetro.

Project Connect is looking to improve existing high-capacity transit services, such as MetroRail and MetroRapid. The Downtown station for the MetroRail is currently in plans for a massive overhaul. The project will be paid for by a $22 million grant from TxDOT and is expected to be complete in 2019.

The last major update in Austin was in 2010 with the creation of the MetroRapid buses on Congress Avenue. There was also a dedicated bus lane added downtown on Guadalupe and Lavaca Street.

Even if the plan is approved by the board, that does not mean it will immediately go into effect. It is a two step process, which must first get approved before more studies and public meetings. Austinites will have another chance to weigh in on March 4 from 8:30-1 p.m. at the Bullock Museum.

Additional details about Connections 2025, including an online interactive map and video, can be found at connections2025.org.

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