One of the perks of living in downtown Austin is being able to take advantage of the Capital Metro bus system. In my previous suburbanite life, I had never even stepped inside a CapMetro bus. But now I often take the 101 bus back-and-forth to UT, and I’ve found that the Airport Flyer is the easiest and cheapest connection to the airport. Currently the fares for the routes are $1.00 each, although an increase is pending.
So I was curious to learn more about the new MetroRapid bus which was parked at the Wooldridge Square Park reopening. A CapMetro employee told me that they have purchased 40 of these extra-long vehicles, with their shiny, roomy interiors and multiple doors for quick boarding. (Those accordion pleats in the middle are also engineering marvels.) He said that free WiFi will be available and apps are being written so that riders will know exactly when the next bus will arrive.
The new buses will be used for two major north-south corridors through Austin: North Lamar/South Congress and Burnet/South Lamar. “Transit priority lanes” are being built to speed up travel along Lavaca and Guadalupe as the routes pass through downtown. This will involve the loss of many parking spaces along those streets, although this will be partially offset as the city implements more back-in-at-an-angle parking (similar to South Congress, where I am hopelessly inept). Some downtown businesses such as Texas Chili Parlor are starting to complain. But I suspect “the wheels are already in motion” (pun intended), since the city has already been installing new bus stops like this one at Guadalupe and Third:
MetroRapid is scheduled to start in early 2014. Until then, you can probably spot the buses around town with their cute training wheels signs: