We’ve recently received several questions from University of Texas at Austin students concerning possible changes to current UT Shuttle routes. We’d like to clarify the issue a bit and offer some answers to these questions.
First, how did proposed changes come about?
Capital Metro regularly takes the pulse of the system, adjusting service to better meet the needs of our riders. We’ve recently been hard at work updating bus service through a major planning study called Connections 2025. Through this process, we’re seeking to create a more frequent, connected and reliable network so that people have even more access and transit choices to get around. You can learn more about the Connections 2025 transit network draft plan from the Connections 2025 website or by watching this video.
The resulting transit network draft plan, developed using public feedback collected throughout the year, includes recommendations that would result in an effective, easy-to-use transit system — one that would be able to grow as the region grows. The draft plan, if adopted, would serve as a guiding framework, one that will help the agency develop more detailed service plans and the corresponding budgets to bring service improvements to fruition.
Our current goal is to take all of the feedback we receive and refine the plan before seeking the approval of our board in November. It is important to note that once the plan is approved, changes wouldn’t happen immediately but would occur, instead, in phases. Some of the proposed changes might come relatively soon, while others would be contingent on previous changes being implemented first, such as infrastructure improvements like sidewalks and/or available funding. In addition, Capital Metro will need the approval of the UT Shuttle Bus Committee before making changes to UT Shuttle service. Exact dates for when specific changes would occur have not yet been determined. Our goal is to begin to set priorities based on what we hear from the public.
Now, to your questions …
Almost all of the questions we’ve received from students so far concern “removing” routes 18, 21, 22 and 663 from servicing the married student housing on Lake Austin Blvd., and seemingly doing away with this direct connection to the UT campus. The comments we’ve received suggest that one route with 30-minute frequencies is not enough to serve the complex, and that students will completely fill the bus, while others won’t have reliable service to and from campus.
Here’s some news that should be a relief to those student residents:
The draft transit plan actually proposes more frequent, later-running and expanded weekend service in the area around the Colorado Apartments. A proposed east-west MetroRapid route, the 804, would operate from Brackenridge Apartments and serve the Colorado Apartments. This new 24/7 route would operate every 10 minutes during the morning and evening peak hours. Taking Route 804 would require students going to UT to transfer at Republic Square, but with three other MetroRapid routes serving that station, all going to UT, it should be a very quick transfer, adding just 3 minutes to a student’s travel time. Students wanting a direct trip to UT could still ride Route 18, which is proposed to operate every 15 minutes instead of every 30 minutes. It is true that Capital Metro has proposed to retire Routes 21 and 22; the segment along Exposition has low ridership and so Capital Metro hopes to reinvest those resources into the more frequent service. The community feedback we gained during the Connections 2025 process revealed that the public wants Capital Metro to focus on frequency.
We want to hear from you!
Though the draft plan was released last month, we are still taking public feedback and want to hear from UT students. There are several ways to help the agency shape the transit plan: participate in one of several open houses this week, take the online survey, email your ideas and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 512-369-6000 or post them on Facebook and Twitter.
In 2017, we will again reach out to the public through a series of service change-related engagements to discuss the ideas we’ve collected, concentrating on those that can potentially be implemented during the first year of the plan. Each service change phase will involve additional rounds of focused and detailed outreach efforts before changes are implemented, so there will be plenty of time to discuss and define each phase of the plan.