A little late writing about this, but thought it important to the Downtown Austin community that I post anyway. On November 6, 2010, Cap Metro closed down several of the bus stops on Congress Avenue, citing traffic and safety issues under the old system, which had a bus stop at every block of one of Downtown Austin’s main downtown thoroughfares.
I talked with John-Michael Cortez, the Interim Manager of Community Involvement at Cap Metro. He explained that these changes have been discussed for years, but the recent construction on Brazos Street and the subsequent detours routing extra busses to Congress stops have exacerbated congestion and traffic accident issues and has pushed the Agency to close some stops on Congress now.
He says these stop closures are the short-term solution, and that next steps will include gathering feedback, giving a preliminary report to Cap Metro Planning and Operations committee in early December, then giving a detailed, quantitative report on the outcomes to the Cap Metro Board in January. If the bus stop closures are deemed to be successful in decreasing congestion / traffic problems while maintaining customer and stakeholder satisfaction, Cap Metro will most likely decide to close additional stops on Congress to have only 3 NB and 3 SB stops total. THEN, if all goes according to service plan 2020 (which Mr. Cortez was quick to say was not set in stone), all Congress bus stops will be relocated to Lavaca / Guadalupe “transit corridors.”
Mr. Cortez said that, to his knowledge, the changes have only received a positive response. However, some stakeholders may have the concern that by closing down bus stops will only increase the crowds at the remaining stops, thereby inhibiting pedestrian traffic to and from their space. Also, at least at 6th and Congress, there seems to be an awful lot of people hanging out at that bus stop that have no intention of riding the bus – to where will that element relocate? (I bet you that Keepers is pumped about the closure there.) And lastly, those that use the Congress Avenue bus stops as transfer points may be seriously affected, to the tune of perhaps missing a tight transfer because they have to walk 1 or 2 blocks further. Which means serious delays.
Mr. Cortez says that Cap Metro will actively be reaching out to the community to get feedback regarding these concerns, among others. While he says they will be proactive in their attempt to talk with stakeholders about the impact of these closures, it never hurts to reach out to them if you have an opinion. You can contact Community Involvement Coordinator Alissa Schram at Alissa.Schram@capmetro.org or John-Michael Cortez directly at John-Michael.Cortez@capmetro.org with your thoughts on this decision.