Austin Transportation has collaborated for years with the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro), Austin's regional public transit provider, to enhance transit service and achieve the community's goals for a safe, accessible and inclusive multimodal transportation system.
The Austin Transportation Transit Enhancement Program was created in 2018 as a more formal partnership with dedicated resources to identify sticking points for transit and collaborate to build solutions. Projects from this program focus on improving transit speed, reliability and safety, and range from spot improvements, like designing better bus stops, to corridor improvements, like installing transit priority lanes.
For more information on how Austin Transportation works to enhance transit operations, email Transit@AustinTexas.gov.
View the report describing projects completed in partnership between Austin Transportation’s Transit Enhancement Program and Capital Metro’s Transit Speed & Reliability Program from 2018-2020.
Spot improvements are low-cost projects at individual locations on City streets aimed at solving particular sticking points that impact transit speed and reliability. Improvements range from modifying the striping on a roadway to installing special transit signals at intersections to improve bus operations.
- Operational improvements
Not all transit improvements have to be expensive. Low-cost improvements like signage, striping and concrete work can go a long way to improve bus operations. Bus turns can be particularly challenging, and corners can be modified to better facilitate those movements to happen more safely and reliably.
In anticipation of CapRemap, CapMetro's bus system overhaul in 2018, Austin Transportation and CapMetro worked together to redesign ten area intersections to facilitate better bus turning movements. Since then, work has continued across the city – relocating stop bars, modifying parking, or rebuilding corners as needed to keep buses moving.
- Signal improvements
In some locations, bus operations are complemented by transit queue jumps. These are special traffic signals that give bus operators a head start on other traffic, helping them more easily merge, turn, or travel through intersections. Transit queue jump signals display symbols instead of standard green, yellow and red bulbs in order to minimize driver confusion.
The first transit queue jump in Austin was implemented on North Lamar Blvd at Airport Blvd. Since then, queue jumps have been added on Guadalupe Street at 4th Street, 38th Street at Duval Street, and West 5th Street at Baylor Street.
Bus stop improvements
The bus stop is your gateway to Austin’s transit system. It’s where the majority of riders wait for transit service, and it can have a big impact on the experience of both bus riders and bus operations. Capital Metro and Austin Transportation collaborate to improve conditions at existing stops and design new stops optimized for safety and multimodal access.
- Bus stop location
CapMetro and Austin Transportation work together to improve bus stop locations by evaluating their proximity to safe crossings and optimizing the distance between stops.
- Bus stop design
CapMetro and Austin Transportation work together to design bus stops that create predictability and safety for everyone using the street. For example, upgrading standard bus stops along sidewalks to "floating" stops that improve safety for all by separating people biking past a stop from buses and passengers.
Corridor improvements consist of a series of coordinated improvements along a particular roadway or segment of a bus route. These improvements are implemented in unison with larger street design programs to improve transit speed and reliability over a broader geographic area and can include the installation of a series of spot improvements, transit priority lanes or transit signal priority technology.
- Transit priority lanes
Transit priority lanes are specially striped BUS ONLY lanes that are designed to move more people more quickly through congested areas. In Austin, transit priority lanes accommodate as many as 60 buses per hour operating during rush hour and can carry more people per hour than adjacent automobile lanes.
The first transit priority lanes in Austin opened in January 2014 on Guadalupe and Lavaca Streets downtown. They were launched in coordination CapMetro's MetroRapid service.
In early 2020, Austin Transportation painted 22 blocks of existing transit priority lanes red downtown between 3rd and 17th Streets on Guadalupe Street and 3rd and 15th street on Lavaca Street. These red lanes improve safety and traffic flow by increasing clarity of lane use for all road users. A map of the project limits can be viewed here, and a project video captured by Public Works can be found here.
In early 2021, Austin Transportation and CapMetro partnered to bring two miles of transit priority lanes to East Riverside Drive. The lanes between Grove Boulevard and Summit Street will organize traffic flow and improve on-time transit performance and the efficiency of Capital Metro service. The transit priority lanes were installed in the curbside lane and operate all day in each direction. New signage and updated roadway markings establish the lanes. Other vehicles can enter the transit priority lanes in order to make a right turn. View the project fact sheet.
- Contraflow bus lanes
Guadalupe and Lavaca Streets through downtown are among the highest-volume passenger corridors in CapMetro's system and the intersection of Lavaca Street at Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd was a major source of passenger delay. In August 2019, a new bus-only contraflow lane opened on Guadalupe Street between 18th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to improve bus travel times and increase people-carrying capacity through the area.
The project converted existing street space for the contraflow lane to enable transit vehicles to bypass congestion by flowing in the opposite direction of traffic in adjacent lanes. The project also improved conditions for other roadway users with multimodal additions including new signals and a new bike lane and shared-use path. A before-and-after project video can be found here.
- Shared bus-bike lanes
Austin Transportation redesigned an existing bicycle lane on West 5th Street into a new shared bus-bike lane to reduce delay on bus routes entering Central Austin from the MoPac Express Lane. The new facility opened in January 2019 with project elements that include the installation of new priority lane markings and signage between West Lynn and Baylor Streets and dedicated bus and bicycle signals at Baylor Street.
- Transit signal priority
Transit signal priority (TSP) uses technology to reduce the amount of time transit vehicles spend at signalized intersections by holding green lights longer or shortening red lights for buses. Because signals can be a major source of delay for transit, TSP helps reduce transit delay and allows buses to operate more reliably along city streets. TSP is currently deployed along MetroRapid corridors approaching and leaving downtown.
Programs and Partnerships
Austin Transportation and Capital Metro also regularly collaborate to manage transportation demand, encourage and incentivize transportation options, and plan for the future of high-capacity transit in Austin. More about these programs and partnerships, and links to Capital Metro resources are available below.
- Get There ATX
Get There ATX is the ultimate resource for information about sustainable transportation options in Austin. The website is a one-stop shop that helps residents, employees, employers and visitors interested in taking more sustainable trips get streamlined information. The site consolidates information on the different mobility options available in Austin, and provides specific trip solutions for commuters, employers, schools, special events and visitors.
- Project Connect
Project Connect is CapMetro's transit plan for a high-capacity transit system in Austin and the surrounding region. It includes a new light rail system, a downtown transit tunnel, new MetroRapid routes and vehicles, a transition to a zero-emissions fleet, and much more. Project Connect aims to expand transit capacity and offer more choices, making our entire region better connected by linking people, neighborhoods and employers.
- Smart Trips
Smart Trips Austin is an active transportation options program that aims to reduce single-occupant vehicle trips and increase trips taken by foot, bike, bus or shared car. Through this program, the City of Austin and CapMetro work together to encourage Austinites to consider more sustainable options for getting around town. These options can help you improve your health, save money, avoid traffic congestion and keep Austin a clean and beautiful place to live.
CapMetro is Austin's regional public transit provider and is responsible for transit service planning, maintenance, and operations in Austin and several surrounding communities. This includes station installation and maintenance, route planning, setting rates of fare, and more for MetroBus, MetroRapid, and MetroRail as well as paratransit and carpool services.