Apurva Sukthankar picked a good day to take the bus in Austin for the first time – the fare was free and Capital Metro staff were out assisting riders Sunday, the first day of the Cap Remap launch.
“I’m new to this town,” Sukthankar said while waiting for the 801 Metro Rapid bus on Guadalupe Street. “I just moved in a couple days ago, so this is my first time that I’m taking this route, and I’m going to downtown Austin just to explore the place.”
Sukthankar doesn't have a car and plans to use the bus as her main mode of transportation.
The overhaul to the bus system affects more than half of all routes across Austin and brings 14 high-frequency lines running at least every 15 minutes. As a new rider, Sukthankar said she was glad she didn't have to adjust to any route changes and that she likes the idea of having frequent service around town.
Yoshi Kasaraha, a graduate student at the University of Texas, takes the bus from Hyde Park almost every day to get to campus. On the day of the Cap Remap launch, he said he had heard about the changes, but still wasn’t sure whether his regular routes would be affected.
One of the goals of the plan is to route more buses onto major streets, taking them off smaller neighborhood roads. Cap Metro says that will help make the bus network more efficient as a whole. Kasahara said he wouldn’t mind adjusting his commute if it makes for a better citywide network.
“If that is the purpose of the change, I think that it would be a good change,” he said.
Still, other riders have voiced their disapproval. One common complaint is that riders will have to walk farther to get to a bus stop.
CEO Randy Clarke said in a statement yesterday that Cap Metro recognized the changes were not going to be "perfect" and that the agency would analyze the data and feedback to make adjustments where needed.
"This is a reset of our system and the result of two years of planning and extensive community outreach," he wrote. "We are making a shift from looking at an individual route to a network of better-connected routes.”
Cap Metro is offering free bus fare this week as riders adjust to the changes.