Capital Metro has released the first draft of its Connections 2025 project. It’s an effort to redesign Austin’s public transit system over the next 10 years.
Despite a booming population, Capital Metro has seen a decline in ridership in recent years. The Connections 2025 project wants to change that by revamping the transit system to better meet riders’ needs. Russ Chisholm is the president and founder of Transportation Management and Design, the planning consultant for Cap Metro. He said one strategy is to make routes straighter and better connected.
“Consolidating services where we have two different routes on two different streets that are serving the same group of riders, and they have to pick and choose – let’s put it all on one street and run more often,” Chisholm said.
He said the proposed changes would increase frequency to every 10 or 15 minutes on 17 routes around the city. (You can view a map of routes affected by proposed changes below.)
The draft plan Chisholm presented Monday to Cap Metro’s board of directors also calls for an expansion of MetroRapid, which offers faster bus service in exchange for a higher fare. So far, the service hasn’t drawn as many riders as Cap Metro expected. It seems riders prefer to stick with local routes they are familiar with, rather than pay the premium. But, the plan proposes that MetroRapid have same fare as other local routes.
“So the idea is to create network solutions, rather than lots of very long, slow one-seat rides,” Chisholm said.
He said the fare change could be funded through the current budget, but it will likely take longer to implement. Capital Metro planner Lawrence Deeter said they’ll be taking public comment on the draft plan over the next few weeks before moving forward.
“We’re still working very hard on our phasing and implementation, and so what we want to hear from the public and our board of directors is what elements of this plan they think are most important,” Deeter said.
Cap Metro plans to present a final transit plan to the board of directors in November. The changes are expected to be phased in over the next 10 years, but some recommendations could be implemented as early as January.