UT-Austin, city public transportation providers adapt to coronavirus health protocols to help students get to campus

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Photo Credit: Jamie Hwang | Daily Texan Staff

Public transportation around UT’s campus has been adapted to fit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines with sanitizing standards for scooters and bikes and social distancing measures for Capital Metro buses.

Scooters will be allowed on campus, but recommended safety precautions include wiping down scooters before use and washing hands before and after use, according to the Parking and Transportation Services website

Blanca Gamez, associate director of Parking and Transportation Services, said Austin BCycle, a bike rental company on campus, will be disinfecting bikes and frequently used stations to keep riders safe. In addition, CapMetro shuttles resumed modified schedules on campus last Friday,  and Zipcars will be available on campus, Gamez said.

“We communicate regularly with CapMetro, scooter (companies) and other service vendors,” Gamez said. “We will continue to work with them and University partners to monitor the use of services on campus, evaluate any need for possible pauses, determine any needed updates in safety protocols and explore alternative options as necessary.”

CapMetro buses will continue to run on UT’s campus this fall at 50% of their normal capacity to allow more space for patrons and will be cleaned three times per day, said Sharmila Mukherjee, CapMetro’s executive vice president of planning and development. Mukherjee said CapMetro will also be prepared to offer additional buses when buses in an area are reaching capacity.

“We expect that, …  with University students coming back to campus, there would be an impact (on bus capacity) so we are prepared to provide additional social distancing support,” Mukherjee said. 

CapMetro buses also require masks for all riders and will provide masks for those who don’t have them, Mukherjee said.

 

Currently, bus routes around campus, including 1, 7, 10 and 20, are programmed for social distancing support, and University shuttles will run at increased frequencies starting in the afternoon until 8:00 p.m. to accommodate for spaced out class schedules, Mukherjee said.  

However, buses 680, 681 and 682 are being suspended to allow for additional support on other routes, Mukherjee said.

“At this point, we feel pretty comfortable with what we have planned,” Mukherjee said. “But (we are) remaining completely agile. We have redundancy programs, both in operational resources and in our cleaning, to make sure that we'd be able to accommodate any changes.”

Gamez said the University is expecting students to follow safety protocols including sanitizing equipment, washing hands and wearing masks. 

Nutrition senior Casey Landefeld said while he used to take the bus to campus on rainy or cold days when he could not bike, this semester he will try to avoid it. 

“(The precautions) definitely make me feel better, but I think it's more just being in a confined space with other people that you don't know where they've been or if they are sick or not,” Landefeld said. “I think that's what would keep holding me back from taking the bus."