Tuesday, March 17, 2015 by Courtney Griffin

CapMetro board to vote on new bus routes

The Capital Metro Operations, Planning and Safety committee has approved adding several proposed bus service changes to the full Capital Metro board’s regular March 23 agenda for a final vote.

Lawrence Deeter, senior planner for Capital Metro, presented proposed June 2015 service changes, once in a public hearing and also to committee members last Wednesday.

The proposal lays out four changes:

  • A new northeast feeder route, Route 237 (Northeast Feeder).
  • All-day frequent service on weekdays and Saturdays along Routes 7 (Dove/Duvall Springs), 20 (Manor/Riverside), 300 (Govalle), 325 (Ohlen) and 331 (Oltorf).
  • Minor changes along Routes 37 (Colony Park), 243 (Wells Branch) and 271 (Del Valley Feeder).
  • Adjusting bus services for schools and the University of Texas during the summer.

“There is a small impact on ADA service area with all of these changes — one of the changes causes the ADA service area to shrink a bit, while the new route causes the service area to increase slightly. So there is no impact overall to ADA service,” Deeter told board members.

The changes also caused no disparate impact or disproportionate burden on minority- or low-income populations, he said.

If approved, the new Route 237 (Northeast Feeder) will cost $270,000 annually to operate seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 60-minute intervals.

Route 237 (Northeast Feeder) is a partnership with Travis County and will service residents along Loyola Lane in Northeast Austin between the Springdale Shopping Center and the Mobile Loaves & Fishes Community First! Village.

“It will be a feeder, meaning it doesn’t go downtown, but instead will provide connections to three more major routes at the Springdale HEB, which is Route 20 (Manor/Riverside) — which is part of our frequent network — Route 37 (Colony Park/Windsor Park) and Route 323 (Anderson),” Deeter said. “By connecting to those three routes, we provide good access to downtown, to Wal-Mart and other shopping areas.”

If approved, Capital Metro will also pay $2.1 million to provide faster services along Routes 7 (Dove/Duvall Springs), 20 (Manor/Riverside), 300 (Govalle), 325 (Ohlen) and 331 (Oltorf). The routes would become part of its “high frequency network” and join MetroRapid Routes 801 (North Lamar/South Congress) and 803 (Burnet/South Lamar).

The high-priority suggestion is one of the last remaining recommendations from Capital Metro’s Service Plan 2020 that has not yet been implemented, Deeter said.

“High frequency for rides have been a top priority for our public and staff,” he said. “We are trying to create a system so people can use Capital Metro beyond just work and school trips. Traditionally, mass transit is designed around work trips and school trips. But statistics show those types of commuting trips, especially work trips, only make up 16 percent of all person trips.”

Buses would run every 15 minutes on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and every 20 minutes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, with the exception of Route 20 (Manor/Riverside), which would run every 20 minutes during weekday and Saturday daytime hours.

As part of its minor route changes — which will have no financial impact — Capital Metro would realign Route 37 (Colony Park) to include the Mueller HEB at 51st Street and Berkman Drive.

On Route 243 (Wells Branch), the Merrilltown Loop will be removed due to an average of six weekday riders. Instead, the bus will continue along Wells Branch Parkway, Deeter said.

Route 271 (Del Valle Feeder) would also be realigned to serve more residents along SH 71, he said.

Committee members unanimously decided to place the proposal on the regular agenda, but with additional direction to staff to look into ways of increasing frequency along the Guadalupe/Lamar Corridor, excluding MetroRapid services. Former City Council Member Chris Riley requested the additional direction.

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Capital Metro: The city’s urban transportation system.

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