AUSTIN, Texas - Capital Metro revamped its bus system, making changes to more than 50 different routes.
The makeover went into effect June 3rd. Company leaders say it improves service but some people say it does the opposite.
The biggest changes CapMetro has ever made to their bus service adding, adjusting and even cutting dozens of routes across Austin.
Anthony Walker has driven for Capital Metro for 27 years. He says the majority of the changes affects those east of I35, and he's not afraid to be their voice.
"Especially the poor, the weak and the minority. To me, it feels like Capital Metro is trying to relive segregation because they know who they're hurting. I think that's wrong when you have so many people that have to walk a mile in the heat to the bus stop, have to walk a mile in the rain to the bus stop. I think they're sending a message to the people that says, ‘Hey, we don't care about you,’" says Anthony Walker, Capital Metro bus driver.
That one mile is now what residents living at The Reserve at Springdale are having to walk. The bus stop used to be right at the front of the apartment complex, now it's past 51st street. The walk isn't possible for some.
“My defibrillator went off when I was walking down to 51st street,” says one resident at The Reserve.
That man suffers from heart problems and is at risk of sudden death. He is one of many at the complex now looking to apply for MetroAccess, a shared-ride service for people whose disabilities prevent them from riding regular bus service.
"How do we get our food? How do we get our transportation where we need it? I don’t have a family here, I just know these people and they don't have cars. What are we going to... when we need to get somewhere, what are we going to do?” says Patricia Crow, resident at The Reserve.
To avoid walking a long distance, Nailah Sankofa is getting on buses she wouldn't normally take. Plus, she says she's having to wait longer.
"Last night it took me two hours to get home from downtown and running one errand in between, when it normally would have taken me 45 mins,” says Nailah Sankofa, avid bus rider.
We reached out to Capital Metro, they say an independent third party did an equity analysis of the new changes. It was then reviewed by the Federal Transit Authority. The findings show the Cap Remap changes "substantially improved service for minority and low-income individual.”
CapMetro realizes some people are adversely affected but they say the impact on service for these communities is more positive than negative.
"I have spoken to both sides and everything about people who are happy with what has changed, the more frequent service, some of them seeing more direct [service]. But, I’ve also talked to others that say, ‘Now I have a transfer where I didn’t have before’ or ‘I’m doing this differently and stuff.’ So, those are the kind of things we want to hear. We've been hearing different things so that we can see which ones we want to look at a little closer,” says Roberto Gonzalez, manger of short-range planning, CapMetro.
Walker hopes that will happen. After FOX 7 reached out to CapMetro, they said they'll be inviting him to share his and the communities concerns with the planning department.
"How can we expand service and not cut service? How can we pick up more people, not leave people?
This is what CapMetro is clearly doing,” says Walker.