AUSTIN (KXAN) - Public transportation is a necessity for Larry Pope. Every Monday, he takes a Capital Metro bus to HEB at Oltorf and Congress Avenue for groceries.
"I ride," said Pope. "I don't have a drivers license, so I've got to ride them."
Soon, his route will get an upgrade, as CapMetro prepares for a big announcement Tuesday in Austin. The Federal Transit Administration will be in town to make official a multi-million dollar grant - the bulk of money to pay for CapMetro's rapid bus project.
About half of the $47.6 million project's cost will buy 22 60-foot-long buses and 18 40-foot-long buses for the North Lamar-South Congress and North Burnet-South Lamar routes.
Part of this project means those bigger, 60-foot buses – dubbed MetroRapid buses - would have a "dedicated" lane on a few stretches along Lavaca and Guadalupe. The city will get rid of parking on this side so buses can run there.
A standard CapMetro bus has about 40 seats on board. This new MetroRapid bus can fit about 17 more, because it adds a 20-foot extension - practically another bus.
At 60 feet long, this bus dwarfs what Austin now has on the road, and passengers will be able to enter at any of three doors instead of one. Plus, special equipment will extend green-light time when approaching traffic signals.
"We're going to be putting these buses on the most densely populated and traveled corridors in Austin." said Erica McKewen, CapMetro spokeswoman.
CapMetro said the enhanced routes will carry more than 21,000 people per day. More frequent than other buses, these will have about ten minutes between stops at rush hour.
"(The riders) ought to be grateful," Pope said.
The project also includes new stations along the routes about a mile apart, with special electronic signs for bus times. Those stations will also be covered. It is all set to start in 2014.
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