AUSTIN (KXAN) — East Austin neighbor Cathy Watterson depends on Capital Metro to get around town, but lately because of the sweltering summer heat, she’s missed a couple of trips including doctor’s appointments.

Watterson said her biggest issue is waiting at her local bus stop located near 12th Street and Airport Boulevard because of the lack of shading surrounding the bus stop.

“I don’t come out, because I get short of breath,” Watterson explained while discussing her health conditions.

Cathy Watterson sits at her local bus stop bench that she said gets too hot during the day to sit on. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)
Cathy Watterson sits at her local bus stop bench that she said gets too hot during the day to sit on. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

CapMetro officials said they’re continuously working on implementing infrastructure that will keep customers safe but that takes time.

“To anyone in our community taking care of our community members is a whole reason why we’re here, and that is the top priority, but definitely we have work to do,” said Sam Alexander, CapMetro’s acting chief experience officer.

At this time, roughly 30% or 700 of the 2,400 bus stops across CapMetro’s service area are protected by what the agency calls shelters. So far, the agency has upgraded 175 of the shelters to the new Silver Cantilever shelters. Over the next five years, the agency plans to upgrade 500 shelters to the new style of coverings.

Watterson is hoping her area of east Austin will get to benefit from some of those changes. She feels like that has not been the case in years past.

“It’s about people getting from point A to point B. That’s what you’re there for. There’s no excuse, because if you’re saying you’re not discriminating, I rebuke that, I rebuke it, because you are,” Watterson said.

Alexander said they follow Title VI requirements.

“It’s a federal requirement that ensures whenever we’re making investments, we’re doing that through a lens of equity,” she said. “We’re looking across the city, and we’re making sure that we’re putting the shelters where there are like 50-plus boardings, or we’re working with community partners to say, ‘hey, we think there’s an opportunity here,’ so it is something that we prioritize as an organization and as a community member.”

This year, CapMetro plans to install about 35 shelters. Some will be new additions, while others will consist of upgrades.