Category Archives: Public Transportation

On the topic of buses…

The Austinist is running a series on getting to know your city council candidate. It’s been uninteresting to say the least. It looks like they’re all copying each other’s answers – “Growth Bad! Bring Back Old Austin!”. But it truly got into ridiculous in the interview with Ken Weiss:

I’m proposing that CAPMETRO go to a hub and spoke system. The hub and spoke system is utilized by every major freight company in the world, including FedEx and U.P.S. The hubs would be the current transfer centers located around town. Express buses would be uses solely at direct one stop buses from point A to point B. For example, you would get on an express bus at North lamer and 183 transfer center and ride all the way to the new transfer center at Congress Avenue and Ben White Boulevard. Limited buses would be confined to major roads like Lamar, Burnet Road, Congress, Guadalupe, Springdale Road, Airport Boulevard, and the like. These buses would stop only every 15 or 20 blocks and at those stops are where people could transfer to local buses. The local bus would be the bus making all the stops in a particular area or neighborhood. This route would utilize smaller buses such as a 15, 20 or 25 foot bus or even 15 passenger vans as the case may be rather than a 40 foot bus. These buses would stay strictly in the local neighborhoods.

Genius! He managed to describe the exact system CapMetro uses today. Exactly. Including almost getting the locations of the transit centers correct. He then goes on to criticize the city for “budget spending”. So I don’t think he’s a particularly viable candidate, but his answers aren’t that far off of Jennifer Kim.

Where’d the students go?

Julie and I have been having this ongoing debate about the number of students living around us. I think there are very few, she thinks there are about the same. I contend that the bus stops should be full when I jog by them at 7:15am, she contends that students don’t wake up that early.

So I jogged past one of the stops today and noticed that they’re discontinuing the PB line. That’s the one that goes down Parker and Burton. The one I took to school when I was in college. It’s being discontinued because students don’t live over here much anymore.

Interesting, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The apartments Julie and I lived in are a condo conversion now

On a sort of related note, we took a walk and wandered through Edgewick yesterday. It’s a Newmark subdivison they’re building. It’s basically a bunch of small homes, townhomes, and garage apartment homes all stuck quite close together. We toured a few, and they really use the space wonderfully. Would have been great for us before we had kiddos.

But I am sort of sad that such a big development is not going to add any more kids to this area. I wonder if the City of Austin is right, and that in ten years we’ll be discussing shutting down Linder, rather than overcrowding issues. It doesn’t take long to do apartment to condo conversions, and there are a lot of apartments around here with desirable city and lake views.

I have an idea.

Was reading the history of CapMetro on their site. And came across this:

Some of the original member jurisdictions have since voted to withdraw from Capital Metro and deny bus service to their area. These include West Lake Hills, Rollingwood, Cedar Park and Pflugerville.

I’d always assumed that CapMetro just hadn’t expanded there fully. But if that’s the way they want to play I think we should withdraw from letting them drive on our roads. I also like the fact that we provide park and ride service to cities that don’t even pay for it.

So basically Northerners and Westerners clog up our roads (that they don’t pay for), get bus service into downtown (that they don’t pay for), on coaches that are far nicer than normal Cap Metro buses (that they don’t pay for), with free WiFi (that they don’t pay for). No wonder a house in Austin costs twice what a house in Plugerville does. We’re essentially buying half their house for them.

The People in my Neighborhood

I ride the bus with a couple every morning. The both appear to be in their fifties or sixties. The man is tall and reedy. He is mostly vacant when he enters the bus. He often leaves with a long string of spittle hanging from his lips. His wife (I assume) follows him. She looks healthier, but with a short cut afro. She looks as though the idea of thinking about her hair is more than she can take. And she helps her husband on the bus every day, and they get off at the same stop every day.

Today they had to lower the bus for her to get on (we have “kneeling” buses with hydrolics, so the bus can get closer to the curb, and thus be easier to enter).She walked up the aisle slowly. Her husband helping her along. They got off the bus slower, and I saw my fellow bus riders faces as we rode away. Every face was drawn. Had a look of concern. How will they get along if one of them gets sick?

While we may not know them they are our neighbors. They are part of our everyday routine. Their presence enriches our day, and if they weren’t on our bus anymore they would be sorely missed. This is what I don’t miss about commuting. I have no community with the drivers on the road. I may not know the people on the bus, but they are part of my day, and I part of theirs. And I think we’re all the better for it.