CapMetro approves new transit system

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CapMetro approved a new transit system which includes more UT shuttles and high-frequency bus routes last Monday.

The 10-year plan, called Connections 2025, will cost an additional $9 million per year on top of the $259 million for the current system, and will overhaul the current system in favor of additional buses running every 15 minutes. CapMetro communications specialist Melissa Ayala said in an email that CapMetro studied bus usage and realized residents wanted a more consistent bus schedule.

“Studies have shown that 15 minutes or less is the threshold for when riders no longer need to consult a schedule to catch their bus,” Ayala said. “The Connections 2025 Transit Plan would create a more frequent, connected and reliable transit network.”

The plan sets a structure for future transit developments over the next five years, including six more UT shuttles, but the plan proposes the shuttles will operate about 40,000 hours less per year. The University will pay for the buses through a partnership with CapMetro, Ayala said.

Routes near campus, including the University’s 642 West Campus and 640 routes, will be changed, but exact changes are yet to be approved of by the public and the CapMetro board. Others subject to change are the 18 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 20 Manor routes. 

CapMetro will have a public hearing at Gregory Gym from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, and after approval, changes will be put into effect June 4. 

Biochemistry junior Zara Soomro said she often takes the 640 and West Campus bus, and without them, she would have to walk about 20 minutes to class.

“(Because of the shuttles), I don’t have to walk all the way to the fine arts building or take the bus to the Capitol, that area,” Soomro said. “If you don’t know anyone who drives, it’s kind of inconvenient.”

Ayala said there are currently six frequent routes, and the plan will add 11 more, including four MetroRapid routes running every seven to 15 minutes to decrease wait times. 

Biochemistry freshman Hannah Hospital said she often rides a bus to the Austin Bouldering Project rock climbing gym. 

“There have been times where I’ve had to wait like 20 minutes,” Hospital said. “Sometimes the buses are late, which can be very aggravating.”

The plan will implement a 24/7 system of high-frequency routes that mimmic similar transit systems in major cities, such as Portland, Seattle, Houston and Denver. 

Computer science freshman Jack Crabtree said he takes MetroRapid routes from the West Mall station at UT to work late hours at P.F. Changs downtown.

“A lot of times I don’t get off work till like one in the morning,” Crabtree said. “So that’d be nice to have this route going back and forth at that hour.”

“Capital Metro has maximized resources by analyzing route productivity, resulting in a proposed budget that serves areas with the highest ridership potential that is financially sustainable,” Ayala said.