CapMetro drives change with new UT shuttle buses

Janelle Polcyn

The iconic orange and white buses often seen cruising around the UT area will be replaced with new buses matching the city bus models starting this month.

The current fleet of UT shuttle buses have been running since 1998, according to according to Hanna De Hoyos, Capital Metro communications specialist. Capital Metro has been planning on replacing the shuttles for the past five years but has been delayed.

“Capital Metro buses are designed to operate for a minimum of 12 years,” De Hoyos said. “By replacing the aging fleet with Capital Metro-branded vehicles, it allows Capital Metro to better serve UT riders and ensure all bus equipment is up-to-date and remains in a state of good repair.”

Each month, five new buses will replace the old ones. The new buses will be more energy-efficient, have cushioned seats and have added heat and air conditioning units and standard pay stations. 

Carlos Ibarra has been driving the UT shuttle buses for 16 years and said he has dealt with buses where the suspension makes him nervous, the doors won’t open, the heat doesn’t work and the brakes are loud.

“I hope they start giving [the new buses] to us, because these buses always have problems,” Ibarra said. “I would drive with no heat in the middle of January. In 16 years, we never drive new buses for UT. That’s not fair. You guys deserve new buses.” 

The buses will cost Capital Metro $467,000 for 40-foot buses and $463,000 for 35-foot buses, and the process is set to be finished in three years. De Hoyos said Capital Metro received a grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of $37,000 per bus for 47 buses because they are upgrading to cleaner diesel engines.

Nutrition senior Morgan Dumas takes the bus to class every day and has enjoyed taking the new bus since one was introduced on her route.

“It’s much quieter and a smoother ride, and cleaner of course,” Dumas said. 

Civil engineering graduate student Walker Thompson has been taking the bus for the past five years since he started his undergraduate work at UT, and has already ridden the new buses.

“Being ignorant of how much it cost, it seems like a progressive move,” Thompson said. “I do like to be a part of something that’s progressive and forward-thinking. I think that’s a small change that UT [shuttles] made.”