In just over two weeks, more than half of all Capital Metro’s bus routes will be altered – and some will be eliminated altogether – when the transit agency rolls out its Cap Remap plan. Ahead of that launch, Cap Metro is trying to get the word out about the plan, which has been met by opposition from some riders.
The transit agency says the redesign will make the system more efficient and grid-like, favoring routes along major corridors and moving bus lines out of the interior of residential neighborhoods – primarily in Northeast and Southeast Austin.
Cap Metro says the revamp will add more than 100 new bus stops. Eighty-two of those are expected to be up and running by the plan's first week, during which the transit agency will offer free rides.
At a briefing today, CEO Randy Clarke said the agency plans on having as many as 900 Cap Metro representatives along routes to explain changes to riders before and after they effect "to ensure those customers are understanding how the routes are changing.”
Once the changes go into effect, Cap Metro is advising riders to double-check routes before traveling because, even though certain bus stops aren’t going away, many existing bus routes will be routed to a new path.
"Our operations team is going to be roaming around the city, looking at stops where service may not be available anymore, making sure people know where they have to go, making sure they can get to where they need to go," said Jackie Nirenberg, Cap Metro's community involvement manager.
Opponents have argued the redesign’s focus on corridors instead of residential routes will mean longer walks to bus stops for some riders. But Todd Hemingson, Capital Metro’s vice president of strategic planning and development, said the agency gathered extensive public input to help inform the service changes, factoring in changes in population growth, development patterns and affordability concerns across the region.
“Communities and populations are moving outside of Capital Metro’s service area,” Hemingson said, “or from the urban core out to the edges because of that affordability challenge.”