Capital Metro’s board of directors approved the agency’s draft transit plan, which will involve creating a more frequent, reliable and connected network of services.
In response to feedback from thousands of people around Central Texas, Capital Metro’s updated network will take a frequency-first approach, tripling the number of bus routes running every 15 minutes or better. The agency follows industry peers TriMet in Portland, Sound Transit in Seattle, Denver RTD and Houston Metro by investing in key corridors to build core frequent service and ridership, while reducing waiting times.
Capital Metro’s new plan, Connections 2025, is designed to improve the rider experience — creating a 24/7 transit system that will see expanded MetroExpress and MetroRapid service, and more east-west options.
Feature of the new network:
- 2 fare types (Local and Commuter)
- 4 MetroRapid routes (running every 7-15 minutes)
- 13 Frequent Local routes (running every 15 minutes)
- 23 Local routes (running every 30 minutes)
- 4 downtown circulator routes
- 6 UT Shuttles
- 8 Express routes
The year-long Connections 2025 study focused on creating a financially sustainable network that tailors the right service to lifestyle, commuter and coverage markets, anticipating projected growth. By reorganizing bus routes and substituting low-performing service with six Mobility Innovation Zones, the agency will transform its system within its budgetary constraints. These innovation zones will allow Capital Metro to pilot new services that may include on-demand, micro-transit or flex routes, connecting to the larger transit network.
The first year of operations of the new network is expected to cost an additional $9 million, bringing the total to an estimated $267.8 million compared to $259 million for the existing system.
The Connections 2025 plan will guide the evolution of Capital Metro’s service over the next five years, and identifies long-range opportunities over the next 10 years. Each implementation phase will require a subsequent public hearing process, and review and approval by the Capital Metro board.
Later this year, Capital Metro will begin hosting public open houses to discuss the first significant phase of changes, anticipated for spring 2018. Changes stemming from Connections 2025 that have already received board approval include the fare restructure implemented on Jan. 8, and improvements to Express service that will operate in the MoPac Managed Lanes.
To date, Capital Metro has met with more than 100 organizations, participated in 125 community meetings with nearly 4,000 attendees, and received 6,500 survey responses related to Connections 2025. The plan has received support from the Downtown Austin Alliance, Rocky Mountain Institute, Urban Transportation Commission, AURA, Alliance for Public Transportation in Austin, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Vision Zero, Pedestrian Advisory Council, Bicycle Advisory Committee, Downtown Commission and Zipcar.