Buda City Council to consider bus services in January


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Buda bus serviceA transit development plan to extend bus services to Buda is nearing completion. Capital Metro, the regional transit authority, is heading up the plan and could roll out bus service beginning in fiscal year 2016-17 if Buda City Council approves its plan.Kelli Weldon/Community Impact
Buda bus service

A Capital Metro transit plan for providing bus services in the city of Buda will be completed this month, officials said Dec. 2 at a public input meeting.

Capital Metro, the regional transportation authority providing mass transit services in the Austin area, began work on a three-year transit plan for the city earlier this year. City Planning Director Chance Sparks said he expects Buda City Council to consider adopting the plan in January.

“It’ll be up to council to decide from a policy perspective whether to take the step and how to take it,” Sparks said.

Should Buda decide to move forward with bus services in the city it would come with a price.

Although the Federal Transit Authority offers funds to help offset the cost of cities providing public transportation, the city could pay as much as $200,000 a year depending on the level of the service.

Andrew Ittigson, transportation planner with engineering consultant AECOM, said bus fare would be consistent with Capital Metro pricing in Austin.

Michelle Meaux, Capital Metro, said with Buda being one of Austin’s fastest-growing suburbs it will face urban transportation challenges, and a transit development could help address concerns. Capital Metro is also working on transit development plans with the cities of Georgetown, Hutto, Pflugerville and Round Rock.

Ittigson said there is a demand in Buda for public bus services.

“There are number of seniors and folks that don’t have access to the automobile or any kind of rideshare,” he said. “There is a place for transit, and that will continue to grow and change over time as Lone Star Rail comes here and other types of regional connections happen as well.”

If Buda approves partnering with Capital Metro for bus services it would not be able to fund its participation with sales tax dollars as those are capped, Meaux said. However, the city could agree to a contract with Capital Metro using its operational funds to pay for the service. Sparks said that could begin as early as fiscal year 2016-17.

It would take three years to implement the transit plan. Bus services would be rolled out in phases starting with commuter-focused service and then demand-response service, according to a Capital Metro presentation. Demand-response service involves passengers making phone calls to the transit operator, which then picks up passengers and transports them to a destination. No fixed routes would exist in a demand-response system.

One option calls for the first phase to use an existing Capital Area Rural Transportation System stop in Buda. The city ended its demand-response service offered through CARTS after its population exceeded the maximum threshold to receive rural bus services wholly funded by the federal government in 2010. The city of Kyle is ending its CARTS service Dec. 31 after paying to extend the service despite also exceeding the population threshold.

Meaux said the cities of Buda and Kyle could split the cost of demand-response bus services, but Kyle has yet to commit to a transit development plan.

“We’re going to continue talking to them,” she said.

 

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