Last week the Capital Metro board voted to approve a major overhaul of its bus routes. The changes, which are set go into effect in June, put into motion a significant portion of the changes recently approved through Connections 2025, the long-term transit plan aimed at providing faster and more frequent service to more people. The city will now see 14 bus routes run every 15 minutes during peak hours, up from the current total of six. Cap Metro hopes the increase in frequency will do the same for ridership, which has declined in recent years, even as the population has shot up. "For us to keep doing what we've been doing and expect different results, we don't think is realistic," Todd Hemingson, Cap Metro VP of Planning and Development, told the board. He pointed to similar revamps in Houston, Portland, and Seattle that have led to major increases in ridership.
Most of the meeting's testimony railed against the plan. Riders bemoaned the realignment of routes that they said would leave them farther from a bus stop or force them to transfer to get to their jobs, schools, or the grocery store. City Council Member Ellen Troxclair showed up to raise concerns about the cuts to the 333, which currently serves Oak Hill. Brent Payne, the head of the local bus driver union, said his members supported more frequent routes but was concerned that it might lead to drivers not having enough time to take a bathroom break at the end of their routes. But the agency believes the plan's benefits far outweigh its drawbacks. According to an internal study, the percentage of low-income people within a five-minute walk of frequent service will increase from 15% to 27%, and the percentage within a 10-minute walk will rise from 33% to 48%. Both the Alliance for Public Transportation and AURA back Cap Metro's calculation, and say the plan will provide better service to current riders while making transit more appealing to many who currently avoid it due to long waits and inefficient, meandering routes.
See Cap Metro’s new schedule at www.capmetro.org/june2018
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