South Menchaca bars start shuttle service to curb illegal parking

A group of bars in South Austin have teamed up to try and make the area safer in response to neighbors who raised concerns about illegal parking on Menchaca Road.

Neighbors in the Sweetwater Glen neighborhood sounded the alarm after several bars moved in just south of Slaughter Lane.

"It’s pretty dark down here, people drive pretty fast, and we really want to get people off of the streets," said Richard Mackay, general manager at Lustre Pearl South.

Customers at the venues were illegally parking on the side of the road and pedestrians started darting across the busy street to get to their cars.

Bar owners at South Austin Beer Garden, Armadillo Den, Lustre Pearl South and Indian Roller looked for a solution. "There’s only so much parking some of us have. Having some auxiliary parking helps us all out," Mackay said.

A parking lot at 10500 Old Manchaca Road is where they found extra parking for customers. "They really want to go back-and-forth between the venues, so we’ve all pitched in and put a shuttle together," said Mackay.

A shuttle service now runs Thursday-Sunday nights, picking people up at the larger lot and dropping them off at the four bars half a mile away. It’s $7 per car, $4 if you only want to loop to the different venues.

Bar managers said it’s already helped to improve the safety of their customers. "We’re responsible for them when they leave here as well," Mackay said.

The Texas Department of Transportation conducted a speed study in the area after the Sweetwater Glen Homeowners Association petitioned for safety improvements. The results of that study led to a speed limit five miles per hour lower.

Bar managers and neighbors were hoping for a little more.

"The speed limit is still a little high, but getting some sidewalks and some lighting would be very helpful, but we’re not there yet," said Mackay.

TxDOT said they will also be modifying the shoulder to add turn lanes into larger businesses.

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