Get on the E-Bus to avoid the BAT bus!

Yesterday Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and his staff brought over the BAT (Breath Alcohol Testing) bus to Capital Metro headquarters for some show and tell.

Are you familiar with the Austin Police Department’s BAT bus? Here’s a KXAN video tour of the bus.

I advise watching the video, because the only other way to see it up close and personal is if you are escorted there in handcuffs, and it won’t be Christian Bale to show you around but one of APD’s finest. The BAT bus is a mobile mini police station specifically for the processing of those arrested for DWI. Officers can handle paperwork and administer the breathalyzer test at the bus, greatly reducing the amount of processing time required at the jailhouse. Because it’s mobile, APD can target specific neighborhoods (read: Downtown) as needs arise.

Police Chief Art Acevedo, Assistant Chief David Carter and Commander Troy Gay show Capital Metro CEO Fred Gilliam the BAT bus.

Police Chief Acevedo addressed the Capital Metro Board yesterday to thank them for the successful partnership that APD and Capital Metro have enjoyed. You may recall last month we detailed the training class we held to help police officers prepare for operating the BAT bus and obtain their commercial drivers licenses. The BAT bus itself was also donated to APD by Capital Metro, and in July it went on its maiden run. On a Friday or Saturday night, around 1:30 in the morning, police cars start streaming into the parking lot where the bus is parked, according to one officer. As many as 25 people a night might have a brief layover at the BAT bus before getting whisked off to the pokey.

Of course, you can avoid the threat of getting hauled to the BAT bus altogether by leaving the keys at home and taking Capital Metro. Tonight, Capital Metro’s three E-Bus routes start up for UT’s Fall 2009 semester. Although anyone can ride the E-Bus, it predominately serves college students and ferries them safely to/from the downtown entertainment district and the UT Main Campus, West Campus, and East Riverside neighborhoods. E-Bus Routes operate from about 8:30 p.m. to approximately 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when school is in session (except holidays). An average of 2,000 riders a night make use of the service, unclogging downtown and making Austin streets safer.

And don’t forget about the six Night Owls, which operate every night of the week except Monday nights and serve the downtown entertainment district and neighborhoods all over the city, from about midnight to 3:30 a.m. Catch a local route to downtown, and then ride a Night Owl home. Check out the Night Owl maps and schedules.

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