Buda moves forward with mass transit interest

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Buda has expressed interest to Capital Metro in bringing mass transit service to the city.

Capital Metro, a public transportation provider in the Austin metropolitan area, and the city of Buda are expected to begin developing a proposal for extending services to Buda.

City Manager Kenneth Williams wrote Capital Metro President and CEO Linda Watson on Jan. 5 to inform the organization of its decision to move forward with a transit development plan, a requisite step toward initiating public transportation services in a new city.

A transit development plan for the city of Kyle has been underway since last year. The city pays for demand-response service through the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, which provides bus services for non-urbanized communities in the region, but could add to its public transportation options.

“We anticipate having a proposal and associated cost included with the next budget process,” city spokesman Jerry Hendrix said.

In order to begin the transit development plan process, the city of Buda and Capital Metro must enter into an interlocal agreement, according to Michelle Meaux, Capital Metro regional coordination planner.

“The agreement is expected to be presented to the Capital Metro Board in February or March,” Meaux said in an email. “After the agreement is signed, the plan would take four to six months to complete.”

The cost of the plan is yet to be determined. However, the city of Buda will only pay 20 percent of the cost to develop it. Eighty percent will be paid for by 5307 funds, a federal mechanism to fund public transportation projects in urbanized areas.

The scope of work will be established in the interlocal agreement, but the city has expressed interest in three types of transit services: commuter, flex-route and demand-response services.

According to a presentation Meaux delivered to City Council in August, commuter service could entail service from Buda, near Cabela’s, to Southpark Meadows shopping center in Austin. The city could also partner with Kyle to split the cost of providing the service. The Kyle stop would be in the Austin Community College Hays campus area.

Demand-response service involves public transportation users who request a round trip to a destination in the morning and are picked up in the afternoon.

Flex-route service is a blend of fixed route, more common in highly urbanized areas, and demand response. Flex-route service is usually recommended for suburban communities, according to City Council agenda documents from the Aug. 5 meeting.

One possible scenario listed in the agenda documents would involve a 10-mile round trip flex route running every day with about 45 minutes between each vehicle. The bus would run from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., constituting $265,000 in annual operating costs. Running on weekdays only would reduce the annual costs to $184,000.