Capital Metro voted Monday to permanently keep the bus detours caused by Speedway construction that UT originally said were temporary.
Routes 18 MLK, 412 E-Bus, 640 Forty Acres, 642 West Campus and 663 Lake Austin were rerouted to go around Speedway and East 21st Street when construction started in 2015, said Bianca Gamez, Parking and Transportation Services assistant director. Gamez said students frequently walking around the buses was a safety concern.
“It was apparent that hundreds of buses crossing this area on the hour was not going to be safe,” Gamez said in an email. “The speed at which buses could cross this area because of the heavy pedestrian traffic was also likely to cause long delays that would leave people waiting for the bus and others being late to their destinations.”
The proposal to keep the detours, which have been in effect for over a year, are part of a plan set for June 2017 by the University and CapMetro. This plan eliminates bus stops along 21st Street, but adds additional stops to East MLK Jr. Boulevard.
Before Speedway’s construction started, there were stops near the Perry Castañeda Library, Darrell K Royal Stadium and Clark Field for the 18 MLK, 412 E-Bus and 663 Lake Austin buses. The vote officially decided those stops will not be used again upon Speedway’s completion.
Route 663 Lake Austin will continue running up Guadalupe Street and down Lavaca Street. Route 640 Forty Acres will continue passing by Clark Field and the Blanton Museum of Art instead of cutting through campus along 21st Street.
Gamez said students and other community members were allowed to provide feedback through social media, surveys and input meetings earlier this month.
Interior design senior Michelle Sifre said she was unaware of the plan and wished CapMetro publicized the proposed changes to students more.
“Their approach was really passive, like ‘Hey we’ll send them an email and that’s good enough,’” Sifre said. “For something that’s going to impact students, I think they should have been more proactive about it, something that would really get people’s attention.”
CapMetro held an input meeting March 10 at Gregory Gym where 10 people attended, CapMetro communications specialist Amy Peck said in an email. Peck said students asked questions about removing 21st Street’s bus stops, and some said they disagreed with a proposal to eliminate evening and Sunday services.
Psychology freshman Reyna Aguinaga lives in Townlake and said the quickest route to get home — 672 — stops running at 6 p.m., so she takes route 640 or 671 instead.
“I have to walk another 15 minutes just to get to my apartment,” Auinaga said. “It would be so helpful if the buses could run a little later too, instead of shutting down at 11, running until at least 11:30.”
The changes are part of CapMetro’s long-term Connections 2025 plan, which proposes more frequent bus routes running every 10 to 15 minutes.