Cap Metro changes more than 50 bus routes in historic revamp of system

Eilish O'Sullivan

Capital Metro made changes to more than 50 bus routes in the Austin area on June 3, including routes to and from the University. 

High-frequency service was added to bus stops along Martin Luther King, Red River, Cesar Chavez, Duval and Riverside, among others. Route 653, connecting Red River to UT, was replaced by Route 10. 

These changes, called “Cap Remap,” are intended to cut less used routes and add more frequent service to key routes. 

Lawrence Deeter, a Cap Metro representative, said Cap Metro’s decision to change the frequency of routes was a result of a year-and-a-half worth of conversations with the Austin community. He said Cap Metro also worked with UT’s shuttle bus committee and made a presentation to UT’s student government prior to the changes being approved. 

In the 2016–2017 school year, the bus system provided UT students with 1,787,923 mainline rides, as well as 2,571,682 UT shuttle rides. 

“I think it’s going to open up the options for graduate students that may live in different parts of the city than where undergrads live,” Deeter said. “They’re going have more opportunities to go different places and have fast and convenient service to campus.” 

Shane Graber, a journalism graduate student who lives at the Colorado Apartments, located southwest of campus, said the two routes he used to get to campus and back were eliminated under the new plan. Graber said the alternative route he used, the 663, does not run when classes are not in session.

“My only alternatives are to Uber or walk an hour to campus in 100-degree heat,” said Graber, who works on campus during the summer.

Randy Clarke, CEO and president of Cap Metro, said in a statement that the changing of routes was meant to match areas of population growth in Austin. 

The new system has 14 frequent routes, where buses will stop every 15 minutes, seven days a week. Fifteen low-service routes have been cut, and some of those riders will now have to walk at least half a mile to get to alternate bus stops.

Deeter, a Cap Metro representative, said of the 15 low-service routes that were cut, only two now have no service while the others were either combined into or taken over by other routes. 

“Some riders may find that they now have to walk a little bit further or take multiple buses,” Deeter said. “But with our new network that emphasizes frequency, a lot of our customers will find that their travel time is unchanged.”

In his statement, Clarke urged customers to ask questions and give feedback on the new system.

Caroline Chapman, a youth and community studies junior, now has to walk farther to alternate bus stops to get to work. 

“I relied heavily on (Route) 5 to get from North Campus back to UT, but since … the 5 has changed, I don’t have much use for it anymore,” Chapman said. “I’m sure the redesign of the routes is helpful to some people, but it’s left me disadvantaged.”