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Cap Metro previews impact of Manor and Lago Vista leaving service area

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by Nina Hernandez

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors learned more this week about the potential fallout of both Lago Vista and Manor ending their partnerships and leaving the Capital Metro service area.

In August, both suburbs decided to hold elections to ask voters whether to continue or end partnerships with Capital Metro. Lago Vista is asking again after an unsuccessful 2016 ballot measure.

Both suburbs currently contribute 1 percent of their sales tax to Capital Metro, are eligible to receive Build Central Texas funds and are part of the Urbanized Area. If the ballot measures pass, there will be service impacts within 24 hours of the official election canvassing process.

Cheyenne Krause, Capital Metro’s deputy chief of staff, told the board that if the partnerships are terminated, Capital Metro will continue to collect sales tax revenue until each suburb’s financial obligation is repaid.

That would take about four years for Manor, which has an obligation of $9.84 million, and six and a half years for Lago Vista to pay its $6.4 million obligation. These numbers are tentative, however, and would be finalized the day after the election canvassing.

“The net financial obligation will stop accruing once we reach the effective date, which is the day after the election results are canvassed,” Krause said.

Capital Metro operates Route 990 Manor/Elgin Express and Manor Pickup in Manor. In Lago Vista, the agency operates Route 214 Northwest Feeder, Lago Vista Pickup and MetroAccess. Routes 990 and 214 and Manor Pickup are operated by the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, or CARTS. Capital Metro pays a portion of those operating expenses.

The end of the partnerships would impact bus and rail service, as well as Pickup and MetroAccess paratransit service.

If the Manor partnership is terminated, Route 990 would no longer stop in Manor, beginning with 24 hours of the election canvassing, although CARTS could continue to offer service between Elgin and Austin without a Manor stop. The decision would also mean the easternmost terminus of the future MetroRail Green Line would need to be reevaluated. In Lago Vista, a terminated agreement would mean service would cease to 12 bus stops along Route 214. As a result, the last stop headed west would be Jonestown.

Pickup service would stop inside Manor city limits and in the Lago Vista zone within 24 hours of the election canvassing.

Capital Metro is required to continue providing MetroAccess service to existing subscribers. It has one customer in Lago Vista receiving trips three days per week at a cost of approximately $20,000 per year. Lago Vista will be required to pay the cost of continued service.

The change would also mean closure of all Capital Metro facilities in those jurisdictions, including park and rides, bus stop signage and amenities, and maintenance services.

Capital Metro’s small member cities are eligible to receive funds through the Build Central Texas program. If the ballot measures pass, Manor and Lago Vista will lose their eligibility. They would receive funds allocated to date but would not be able to receive funds in future years. Manor would get about $1 million in remaining Fiscal Year 2022 funds and Lago Vista would receive $129,000.

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