Capital Metro is working to attract more UT students to ride buses in the upcoming fall and spring semesters by expanding its advertising and scheduling buses to run later and more frequently.
CapMetro said in an email statement its overall goal is to increase student ridership by 5 percent. In April, the board approved bus routes 801 and 803 to run every 10 minutes instead of 15 on weekdays and every 15 minutes instead of 20 on weekends.
“We are excited about upcoming service improvements that will benefit UT this fall,” the statement said. “We plan to monitor UT ridership and survey feedback to make sure we are headed in the right direction.”
CapMetro also said the 801 and 803 routes will run until 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays so students can stay later on campus.
Students have shared mixed feelings about the reliability of the bus services. Salman Siddiqi, international relations and global studies senior, spent the past four years commuting to campus through CapMetro. He said although the 801 and 803 routes have been mostly reliable, the other campus bus routes were not.
“I’ve had the regular buses skip me before, but fortunately that hasn’t happened to me on the (801 and 803 routes).” Siddiqi said.
Lonny Stern, CapMetro community involvement coordinator, said social media surveys will be sent out in order to receive more immediate feedback and make quicker improvements.
CapMetro said incoming UT freshmen should know all of its services are free for students and faculty. The company plans to broadcast this more widely during freshman orientation by setting up informational booths on campus and posting signs near UT garages and nearby parking lots.
Recent UT graduate Mayra Zamora said riding CapMetro the past four years was her lifeline for travel because she did not have a car. Zamora said CapMetro’s push for more advertising would help students become more aware of an underused resource.
“It’s something everyone here should know,” Zamora said. “If you’re not an Austinite or you’re not from Texas and coming from out of state, you may not know it’s free.”
CapMetro sustainability officer Robert Borowski said CapMetro’s push for more riders will help the city’s overall efforts to reduce Austin’s carbon footprint. Borowski said CapMetro is a participant in the Austin Community Climate Plan, an environmental plan adopted by City Council in 2015 to achieve carbon-neutral emissions by 2025 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“The impact of a single bus is less than the total impact of the cars that would have been used if everyone resorted to driving alone,” Borowski said. “Public transit is one of the mobility tools to reduce our carbon footprint.”
CapMetro said in the statement it will announce more service improvements as the semester progresses through Connections 2025, the company’s plan to overhaul and upgrade the city’s transportation network.