Some changes are coming to a few of the city’s bus routes this week. In an attempt to increase ridership, four Capital Metro bus routes will be running more often.
“We’re going to be upgrading five of the busiest routes in our whole system. And four of those will run every 15 minutes or better across the weekday,” says Todd Hemingson of Cap Metro.
Of the four routes that will run more often, the longest is Number 7, which runs from Heritage Hills to Dove Springs. Hemingson says the goal of the added frequency is to begin creating a network of buses in town that run regularly enough that you can conveniently get around town without having to wait for a bus or transfer for more than seven minutes.
Cap Metro estimates the improvements could add up to a million additional trips a year. But there is one route that isn’t getting frequency improvements: the Number 1. That route had its service cut in half last year to make way for new MetroRapid buses.
“The routes we chose were ones we could upgrade without a significant number of additional buses. We basically picked routes where the peak period frequency is already at or very near every 15 minutes,” Hemingson says.
The number 1 used to have that level of rush hour frequency, before it was cut. Some transit advocates say it’d be better to first restore frequency to that bus line, as it has many more riders than the routes chosen for this frequency upgrade.
There is also concern that the higher fares on rapid routes will discourage riders from transferring between local and rapid buses. Capital Metro says they’re looking into an option of day passes that can be upgraded from local to rapid fares to address that issue.
This is the first phase of frequency upgrades for Austin’s local buses. More routes could be added in the future.