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Capital Metro sticks with ultralow-ridership line in Manor

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority is moving full speed ahead with its plans to prioritize frequency over geographic coverage, but the agency’s commitment to that principle isn’t total.

The recent adoption of the contentious June 2018 service changes that eliminated several routes and altered others due to low ridership will keep intact the No. 470 Manor Circulator, despite that route’s extremely low ridership.

Agency documentation presented to the board during discussions of Connections 2025, the service plan from which the June 2018 service changes were hatched, pegs the annual cost of operating the line at $229,500. Its cost per passenger is $225.

Launched in June 2016, the No. 470 runs every hour Monday through Saturday on a fixed route between downtown Manor and the Walmart-anchored shopping center along U.S. Highway 290 on the town’s eastern edge. Upon request, the bus can deviate up to three-quarters of a mile from its route.

According to data obtained from Capital Metro, the route averaged a weekday ridership of eight trips during its first summer of operations. In both the fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017, an average of four passengers boarded the No. 470 each weekday.

Just before the vote to approve the service changes, Capital Metro board Chair Wade Cooper expressed reservations about a proposal to permanently grandfather dozens of current MetroAccess riders who stood to lose their paratransit service due to route realignments. He suggested that the $200,000 to $300,000 cost of maintaining service to those dozens of Austin residents would not be financially prudent.

The Austin Monitor reached out to Capital Metro for comment for this story on Monday afternoon, but was told that Interim Program Manager Sam Sargent was unavailable for comment. Likewise, Rita Jonse, Manor mayor and Capital Metro board member, also did not respond to a request for her perspective on the No. 470.

Photo by Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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