CapMetro votes to officially remove 21st Street, Speedway bus stops

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Capital Metro | Daily Texan Staff

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 40 Acres, 642 West Campus and 663 Lake Austin were rerouted to go around Speedway and East 21st Street when construction started in 2015, Blanca Gamez, Parking and Transportation Services’ assistant director said in an email. Before Speedway’s construction started, there were stops near Perry Castaneda Library, Darrell K. Royal Memorial 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.

“It was apparent that hundreds of buses crossing this area on the hour was not going to be safe,” Gamez said. “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, is part of a plan set for June 2017 by the University and CapMetro that eliminates bus stops along 21st Street but adds additional stops to East MLK Jr. Boulevard. 

Route 663 Lake Austin will continue running up Guadalupe Street and down Lavaca Street. Route 640 Forty Acres will continue to pass by Clark Field and the Blanton Museum of Art instead of cutting through campus along 21st Street. Business honors junior Tiffany Wang said buses passing on Speedway would be a safety hazard and inconvenience buses.

“It’s a terrible road, people can barely walk through that street anyway so it doesn’t make sense for a bus to pass through that street,” Wang said. 

Gamez said students and other community members were allowed to provide feedback through social media, surveys and input meetings earlier this month. 

Michelle Sifre, architecture and interior design senior, said she was unaware of the plan and wished CapMetro had 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. “And 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 said the quickest route for her to get home, 672, stops running at 6 p.m. and so she takes route 640 or 671 instead.

“I have to walk another 15 minutes just to get to my apartment,” Aguinaga said. “It would be so helpful if the buses could run a little later too, instead of shutting down at 11.”