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Capital Metro express bus changes screw Austin in favor of Leander

Take a look at the following charts (done quickly; please forgive my lack of time on the business trip) showing some of the express bus routes proposed for elimination when commuter rail service begins:

The really fast express bus from Leander only runs obscenely early (6:00 - 6:30 AM). After that, you need to take the #987 (the one that runs down Mopac, 38th, Guadalupe), which, at least for the 'late' (7:30ish) trip, shows to be slower than commuter rail. So far so good. But what about the Lakeline Park-and-Ride, you know, the one that's "in Austin"?

Anything pop out at you? Yes, that's right: both the early and 'late' express bus runs from Northwest are faster than what people will be forced to do when commuter rail service starts. The only beneficiaries of this change in service will be residents of Leander (and maybe the freeloaders in Cedar Park, depending on which direction they drive and how far).

Quick notes:

  • The 984 and 986 drop off at MLK/Red River; I added an extra walk of 5 minutes to those trips to be more fair.
  • I continue to be what I think is excessively fair to commuter rail by assuming that its commuters work right next to the shuttle drop-off on San Jacinto (far more likely, I think, that people work closer to the express bus drop-off at 24th/Guadalupe).
  • The 987 drops off at the front gate of UT (I subtracted 1 minute from the 21st/Guad timepoint to estimate 24th/Guad).
  • LRT is my own estimate based on a combination of commuter rail time to Crestview and #101 time (minus a couple minutes) from there to 24th/Guad.
This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Charts and Graphs , Don't Hurt Us Mr. Krusee, We'll Do Whatever You Want , I Told You So , Republicans Hate Poor People , Republicans Hate Public Transportation , Republicans Hate The Environment , Subsidies to Suburban Sprawl , Texas Republicans Hate Cities , Transit in Austin , Transportation , Use Cases


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I take issue with the statement "the only beneficiaries of this change in service will be residents of Leander". There are far more variables to consider than travel time. While I think this analysis you have provided is useful, and does certainly illustrate the longer commute for some users, what about the other benefits? Other benefits include: 1) having fixed transit infrastructure prompts high density VMU development around stops (which in itself naturally implies a number of other pros/cons, but a number of those pros being an increased tax base for Austin), 2) riders of the light rail will have additional services, like wifi, and a much more comfortable ride than a bus, and 3) trains are by far the most scalable means of increasing ridership density along a given route (it is easier to add more/longer trains than more buses, with no increase in travel time regardless of highway congestion). To say "Capital Metro express bus changes screw Austin in favor of Leander" and only look at one variable is unfair and essentially a straw man argument.

In order:

1. It's not TOD

2. The express buses already have wifi

3. It's not TOD and adding more trains won't help - the population of people who don't mind transferring to a stuck-in-traffic shuttlebus to go the last mile or two to their office is highly limited.

You don't get TOD around commuter rail, especially not commuter rail that doesn't actually take you to your final destination, requiring instead that you transfer to a shuttle-bus. This has been the experience in city after city after city after city.

The circumstances under which you get TOD is when you do what Portland, Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, Salt Lake, Houston, Minneapolis, and others did: build light rail that delivers people within walking distance of the major employment centers without a transfer.

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