More frequency, more reliability, and more connections. Capital Metro says that's what riders have told them they want during their study for the 2025 Connections Plan.
They say their proposed changes will more than double their frequent routes and that almost all of their riders will be able to access a stop within a five minute walk.
Some of the proposed changes would have made it farther for riders to walk. Along the Bull Creek route is one example cited by frustrated riders. Capital Metro says as a response to rider feedback, they have revised those route changes, as well as four others.
But as of now Capital Metro isn’t budging eliminating 5 stops along the Barton Creek route, 30, including getting rid of the only one in Westlake.
“I take the 30 route to go to my pain doctor, I am commuting all the way from North Austin,” says Route 30 rider Miriam Howell.
Like many other riders who rely on it, the stop on Walsh Tarlton is a lifeline.
“I was hit by an SUV on my bicycle,” she says adding, “and I have a bunch of spinal fusions and a nerve condition now.”
Howell takes Route 30 to get her to her doctor's appointments just a few blocks away from the stop. “I go every two weeks so it's a vital bus route.”
Capital Metro says eliminating this stop, along with others in the proposed plan is necessary in order to increase bus frequency. They say, because of “limited resources” they have to “weigh the balance between frequency and coverage”.
If the route is eliminated, Miriam says her only option will be a rideshare. She figures that paying for that and her monthly bus pass will cost her almost two hundred dollars a month. “I have to have a mode of transportation since I can't drive afterwards,” she says.
The bustling neighborhood filled with businesses is also home to Eanes Isd. Adult students with disabilities there, rely on the stop. Eanes ISD students and Superintendant Dr. Tom Leonard have lobbied Capital Metro to keep the stop as its heavily relied on, by the adult students and some employees who work for the district too. The district says they even built their Adult Transition Services facility because the stop was nearby.
“There are a lot of people who use it to get to their jobs, to get to their doctors because there are a lot of doctors around here. I think it's just basically saying we aren't important,” Howell says.
In an email about rider frustration because of the eliminations, Capital Metro spokesperson Melissa Ayala underscored the length of the study and the feedback from the community. She also says, “We released the Draft Transit Plan in late August. To date we have presented on Connections 2025 at 125 events (advisory committees, public meetings, neighborhood associations), received 6,200 survey responses and had more than 21,000 people view the Draft Transit Plan online. Because the agency does not have unlimited resources, there are some difficult choices involved in this process. Please refer to question 1 for information on how we have engaged our community in these decisions. It is important to remember, even with these difficult tradeoffs our analysis shows the Draft Transit Plan maintains service to more than 98% of our current riders.”
Ayala says there will be another work session on December 14 for more feedback on the plan. The Capital Metro board is scheduled to have a final vote on the plan at their meeting in January 2017.
Capital Metro says they are encouraging riders to contribute feedback on the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan: Feedback@connections2025.org or calling 512-369-6000.