Long, long ago, they were once thriving, bustling bus stops dotting the city of Austin until, one day …
The mysterious disappearing act
Every city with transit has them. Ghost stops are inactive bus stops that still reveal traces of their former existence. These stops are now inactive because routes have changed over the years and no longer serve specific locations. Then, POOF! They vanish into thin air.
Shadows of their former selves
Most ghost stops are unrecognizable to the naked eye as they don’t feature any infrastructure. When Capital Metro closes a stop, we do away with the pole, bench, litter container and other items. Since most of these items are simply bolted to the concrete, they are easy to take out. Often, the only evidence that a bus stop once existed is the different appearance of the sidewalk or the concrete bus pad amidst the asphalt in the street.
Buried 6 feet under
Though Capital Metro’s newer shelters feature a bolt-down design for easier maneuverability, shelters that are older than 20 years are constructed with a pier foundation anchored 6 to 10 feet underground. These are expensive to remove, and so a few of these can still be found lurking along Austin streets.
Sometimes these mere skeletons of bus stops lie in wait until they can spring back to life. If we were to reinstate service to an area and could make use of a ghost stop to serve the new route, it would likely be re-activated rather than funding the building of a new bus stop nearby. Some ghost stops are, in essence, undead and waiting to be revived.
Capital Metro maintains a database of all of our stops throughout the city, including ghost, or inactive, stops. The list of inactive stops does not, however, indicate whether shelters still remain at each. For the fearless, some sleuthing via Google Street View or on foot will reveal the ghastliest ghost stops — those with shelters still in the ground that aren’t served by any buses.
Ghost stop at the southwest corner of S. 1st Street and Barton Springs (in front of the Whataburger): this used to serve the Route 30 and Route 5 when they went all the way to Congress Ave. via Barton Springs Rd. When the transit priority lanes were added on Guadalupe/Lavaca, these routes were redirected to make use of the lanes and benefit from the time savings and accommodating easy transfers between services downtown. Now, since those services turn left on S. 1st to go over the South First Street Bridge, they cannot service this stop and instead stop adjacent to the Hooter’s at Riverside and S. 1st before heading downtown.