LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) — Starting Monday, Lockhart neighbors can request a ride from the Capital Area Rural Transportation System.

People request a ride using the CARTS Now app. Once ordered, a CARTS vehicle will pick them up within 15 minutes and take them to their destination within the Lockhart service area. Since the service is launching today, for a limited time, CARTS will operate for free in Lockhart. They said they’re doing this in an effort to encourage new riders to try the service.

Once they do start charging, it costs $2 a ride with fares half off for seniors, people with disabilities and children 12 and under.

The Capital Area Rural Transportation System provides transit service in several counties surrounding Austin.
Including Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis, Williamson and Bastrop counties.

In late 2020, the Bastrop service was launched and has seen up to 100 riders daily. They’re seeing half of that in Taylor, where it launched in July 2021.

“The population increases here, and the City of Austin and people are starting to move outwards and to the rural areas, transportation is going to be needed,” said Dana Platt, the CARTS community outreach director. “Then we’re going to need to make connections, and it’s all part of a big network and system and so we continue to grow like the rural communities continue to grow.”

The Eastside Bus Plaza in east Austin helps connect CARTS and CapMetro services. Nine CARTS routes connect to four CapMetro lines.

A state report shows over a quarter of people in rural areas use public transportation to get to and from work at 27% in the city versus 21% in rural areas. However, rural riders are more likely to rely on the service for medical care than those in cities at 26% versus 18%.

Members of the Black and Latino communities are also more likely to be public transit riders, according to Census data.

CARTS will host a ribbon-cutting to launch the CARTS Now on-demand transit service Monday from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. at 308 W San Antonio St, Lockhart, TX 78644.

The community is invited to attend and will have the opportunity to get a first look at the CARTS Now van. CARTS officials said there will be refreshments, giveaways and activities. Attendees can expect to hear from Lockhart Mayor Lew White, City Manager Steve Lewis and the CARTS General Manager David Marsh.