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Capital Metro approves Connections 2025

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

It’s all systems go for Connections 2025.

On Monday afternoon, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board of directors unanimously approved the framework that will guide the agency’s bus operations for the next decade.

“This could be a watershed for Capital Metro,” Chair Wade Cooper said just before the vote. “The idea of implementing these high-frequency routes is very exciting. We’ve seen evidence of good progress in Seattle and Houston where they’ve done that.”

Indeed, the definitive feature of the plan is its focus on increasing the number of frequent bus routes. It calls for the implementation of 17 lines with buses that arrive every 15 minutes or quicker during peak times. Capital Metro currently operates six routes that achieve that level of service.

The hope is that a more intuitive and reliable experience will help goose the agency’s sagging ridership.

The plan increases Capital Metro’s operating expenses by $9 million to $267.8 million in its first year. But the prevailing controversy over the proposal – which was originally due for a final vote in December – centered on its suggested revisions to existing bus lines.

City Council Member Ellen Troxclair addressed the board early in the meeting to complain of cuts to service in her Southwest Austin Council district, including the elimination of the No. 333.

“I personally know a number of people who moved to this part of town to specifically be close to this bus route who don’t have any other way to get around the city,” Troxclair said. She urged the board to support an amended resolution offered by Council Member Ann Kitchen that girded the proposed Mobility Innovation Zones, where agency staff are planning to augment reduced bus service with other mobility options to be determined after further public process.

Ultimately, after some mild revisions, Kitchen’s version of the resolution won the day.

The board’s vote was the culmination of an effort that Capital Metro kicked off last year in partnership with consultant Transportation Management and Design Inc. However, the changes envisioned in the plan will themselves require further public input and subsequent votes by the board. Each of the changes will be implemented during the agency’s triennial service updates.

Senior planner Lawrence Deeter suggested that the first significant proposals to change to the bus system could be a matter of months away.

“I would anticipate late summer or early fall,” he said.

Photo by John Flynn. This story has been changed to reflect the fact that proposals could be months away, not the actual changes.

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