Swap and Swipe: New Shuttle Buses Now Serving UT

Do you remember where you were in 1998? Bill Clinton was president of the United States, the Spice Girls were a pop-hit sensation, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion was number one on the Billboard charts, flip phones were the latest technology in cellphones, and the burnt orange and white UT Shuttle buses began serving the UT campus.

Much has changed in 18 years, including the technology available for Capital Metro’s buses. Just like your old hand-me-down 1998 Honda Civic, current UT Shuttles don’t have the advanced features of today’s buses and, after 18 years, have outlived their lifespan.Shuttle NEW

Here’s some exciting news though – Capital Metro is trading up! We’re swapping out the older UT Shuttle buses with a new fleet of state-of-the-art buses to serve the University of Texas at Austin campus. We’re gradually phasing out the old buses so, in the meantime, you’ll see a mix of orange and white buses and the new blue vehicles along UT Shuttle routes. The full switchover to the new buses is expected to be complete in January 2017.

And these aren’t your parents’ old buses! The new vehicles have many updated features: cushioned seats soften the ride; separate air conditioning systems for the driver and passengers make everyone comfy; HD cameras with front, back and exterior side views for added safety; Braille placards to direct riders who are blind to priority seating; larger secure wheelchair riding areas; bright energy-efficient LED headlights; and additional turn signals and brake lights to make the bus more visible to other motorists.

They’re also equipped with fare boxes at the front of each bus, requiring UT students, faculty and staff to swipe their active UT ID cards to ride.

The new buses, which began rolling out onto Austin’s roads this month, have caused some consternation simply because they look different – they’re now Cap Metro blue instead of burnt orange and white.

Because we know that change can be hard, we’re here to answer some questions about the new buses:

“I am proud of everything burnt orange and white! So, why are the new UT Shuttle buses blue?”

Capital Metro is in the process of updating the branding on its services, which includes using the color blue to indicate Local service (which UT Shuttle service is a part of). In the past, whenever a Local bus required service, we had to use whatever bus was available to temporarily replace it, which included orange and white shuttle buses. This sometimes caused confusion among non-UT riders when they saw a UT Shuttle bus pull up to their stop. Now that all Local service will be using the same color vehicles, buses will be interchangeable with a simple switch of the digital destination sign. Much less confusing for everyone!

“So, how will I know what bus to ride now?” You can check the new blue buses for the route number along with the UT logo on the buses’ digital signs

 “So, what do I have to do to ride the UT Shuttle now?” UT students, faculty and staff now board at the front of the bus, then swipe their active UT ID cards to ride. It’s that simple.

“Why do I now have to swipe my ID to board and ride?” The new fare boxes ensure that those swiping have current valid IDs. The swipe and board system also enables us to more accurately count the rides we provide to UT riders, which helps with overall service planning and budgeting.

“Doesn’t having to swipe when boarding take a lot of time and slow down the trip?” It is common practice for transit companies to require swiping passes or depositing money when boarding a bus. The time it takes to swipe and board is factored into service schedules and isn’t shown to result in delays.

“What if I have another question?” Check our website, capmetro.org, or contact the GO Line at (512) 474-1200.

We know it’s hard to say goodbye, so share your memories and photos of riding the burnt orange and white UT Shuttles with us on Capital Metro’s Facebook and Twitter pages. To paraphrase another popular nineties band, Boyz II Men, “We’ll take the memories to be the sunshine after the change.”

ut_shuttle (002)
Capital Metro’s previous UT Shuttle



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