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Capital Metro arrives in Round Rock

Monday, August 28, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority has extended its service to another Austin suburb.

On Thursday, representatives from Capital Metro, Williamson County, Austin Community College and the city of Round Rock gathered in that community to officially cut the ribbon on four new bus routes that will expand access for its residents.

“It’s another new day in Round Rock. And this is just another … form of transportation to get around our city and also to get to our greater metro area,” Mayor Craig Morgan told the crowd of approximately 50 people who gathered at the Round Rock Transit Center in the city’s downtown area.

The new service is the latest and largest of Capital Metro’s recent forays into communities that do not assess the one-penny sales tax to fund the agency’s operations. Round Rock will cover the $4.7 million cost of the five-year agreement using both local funds and money from the Federal Transit Administration.

Caren Lee, transit coordinator for the city of Round Rock, told the Austin Monitor that the city has no plans to become a full-fledged member of the Capital Metro service area.

The four new routes include a circulator line within the city, a connector between the ACC Round Rock campus and the Howard Lane park-and-ride, a limited route between the new transit center and the Tech Ridge park-and-ride, and an upcoming express bus that will connect to downtown Austin on the unfinished toll lanes on Mopac Boulevard.

“I can’t wait – and I know you all can’t either – for the Mopac express lanes to open up, when Round Rock citizens will be zipping past other traffic in one of the most congested corridors in this region,” Capital Metro CEO and President Linda Watson told the crowd.

Morgan said the new service was backed by the city’s chamber of commerce and will make the community more economically attractive.

“When we go out and recruit businesses, the number one concern has been, and the number one question is, ‘What do you have for public transit?’ And we were competing against other cities and we had to tell them we don’t have any public transit. And now, when I go out and recruit businesses, I can say Round Rock, Texas, has public transit,” said Morgan, who is also a member of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Policy Board.

Round Rock, a sprawling, fast-growing suburb, has seen most of its development happen in the age of the automobile, a circumstance that does make for a natural fit for transit operations. Several of the new bus stops are located along low-density, high-speed corridors that are otherwise hostile to pedestrians.

When asked if there are any plans to make the city more amenable to transit use, Morgan told the Monitor, “This agreement is for five years and we will continuously study on an annual basis to see what we need to do to improve it or to make sure the correct routes are in place.”

“So we’ll always watch it and look at it,” he concluded.

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