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Capital Metro Vehicles Return To Full Capacity With One Exception

An electronic sign on a Cap Metro bus says: "Wash your hands. Stay home if ur sick."
Gabriel C. Pérez

As Austin lowers to stage 2 of its COVID-19 risk guidelines, Capital Metro plans to operate almost all vehicles at full capacity starting Wednesday. The one exception is MetroAccess buses, a shared-ride paratransit service for people with disabilities.

Face masks will continue to be required on public transit as mandated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The agency is encouraged to see the community reach this milestone and looks forward to continuing to welcome customers back on all services," Cap Metro said in a statement.

Cap Metro ridership has been down sharply during the pandemic as more people work from home or seek to avoid enclosed spaces with strangers. In March, the most recent month for which federal data is available, Cap Metro reported more than 1.3 million bus trips. That was the highest number since October, but it was much lower than the 2.4 million trips in March 2019.

The agency is hopeful its sanitation protocols will help people feel more comfortable using public transit.

Cap Metro said it cleans vehicles every night with an electrostatically charged mist of disinfectant. The electrostatic charge helps the disinfectant cling to surfaces.

The agency also expects to finish by the end of the month a $1.6 million project to install active air purification systems on all 425 of its buses. The systems use UV light and a fine mist of disinfectant (aerosolized hydrogen peroxide) to sanitize air pulled through the bus's HVAC system.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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