Austin Public Transportation

Austin's public transportation system is run by Austin's public transportation agency, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Capital Metro. The system consists of public buses, University of Texas shuttles, and commuter rail. It serves the majority of central, east, and south Austin, and parts of northwest suburbs. You can view the service area at the Capital Metro service area map.

The bus routes are roughly laid out radially from the center of Austin out, assuming that most commuters travel toward downtown. View route schedules and maps at the Capital Metro website.

Starting in 2014, Capital Metro also began augmenting its current fleet of public buses with MetroRapid vehicles. The new buses are longer and more spacious than the current buses, run on low-emission diesel engines, and have convenience features like extra air conditioning and WiFi.

The new buses will also be able to keep a traffic light green a few seconds longer to allow the vehicle to pass when it's running behind schedule, and then keep synchronization with the next traffic light.

The 40 extra buses will have 77 stops on the two busiest bus routes. One will start at I-35 north, travel along N. Lamar Blvd. and S. Congress St., and end at Southpark Meadows shopping center. The other will start at the Domain shopping center, head down Burnet Rd. and S. Lamar Blvd., and end in south Austin. Together these routes constitute about 25 percent of Capital Metro's total bus ridership.

The Capital Metro website also helps you plan your trip around town with public transportation, whether for business or pleasure. Visit the explore Austin page to plan your travels.

Partly to alleviate Austin's traffic problem, the city has recently augmented its public transportation options with a commuter light rail system. Austin's commuter rail system, known as Capital MetroRail, is owned and operated by Capital Metro.

Capital Metrorail began operation in March 2010. Its first, and currently only, rail line is the Red Line, which connects downtown Austin with Cedar Park and Leander northwest of Austin, and includes nine stops.

The end points are the Austin Convention Center at 4th and Trinity St. in Austin and Hwy. 183 in Leander. Trains depart Monday through Saturday approximately every half hour. Visit the Capital Metrorail page for route and service schedules.

MetroRail currently serves about 2,800 passengers each weekday, which puts it nineteenth out of 21 urban commuter rail systems in the country in terms of ridership.

You can view an interactive map of the MetroRail routes at the Austin-American Statesman page.

MetroRail has been criticized because of its limited area of service, just between downtown and the northwest corridor. This partly accounts for its relatively low ridership.

Capital Metro has plans to expand the rail system by adding a line east of town, with stations at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the town of Elgin, 26 miles east of Austin.

There is also a plan to extend lines north of town, to the suburbs of Pflugerville and Round Rock, and south, eventually connecting with San Antonio rail lines.

There are additional plans to build rail lines within Austin itself. One would run between downtown and the Mueller neighborhood, with a stop at the University of Texas. Another would run between Guadalupe St., near the University of Texas, and North Lamar Blvd.

Planners project the Guadalupe-North Lamar route would have thousands of potential users, and provide public rail service to over 30 percent of jobs in the city. You can view MetroRail's future routes here.

Looking longer term, Capital Metro and the city government have more extensive plans to address Austin's traffic problem. Project Connect is a plan currently under study to combine electric rail cars with expanded commuter rail, and express highway lanes, to provide easier travel in and around the city.

The North Corridor part of the project would connect Austin with Round Rock and other northeast suburbs, while the Central Corridor part would improve transit between major destinations within central Austin.

Another project under study is Lone Star Rail, a proposal to add passenger rail to the I-35 route between Austin and San Antonio. I-35 just south of downtown Austin is one of the chronic city bottlenecks during peak travel times. More broadly, this section of I-35 is one of the most congested areas of the country, an impedance to trade between Mexico and Canada, and also one of the deadliest segments of highway in the country, with over 100 fatal accidents per year.

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