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La Familia StoriesTravel

Getting around in Austin

By September 22, 2015 No Comments

As most cities in the US, Austin is a very extended one, and although visiting most of the downtown area on foot is possible, you’ll have to consider options other than walking to travel longer distances, especially during the summer.

Fortunately there are many options for getting around.

Among the many aspects to consider, the most important in terms of costs are:

  • License
  • Parking
  • Gas
  • Insurance

So we’ll start with the options that don’t require having a driver’s license, paying for parking or gas, or getting car insurance.

No matter what your decision is, I still recommend checking out the Texas Transportation Code and learning the basics of how driving is done here in Texas.

Bike

Pros: Light, quick, easy to park and available 24/7. Riding a bike is among the cheapest and most versatile options. You can use it on the road, on the trail and even take it with you when riding a bus or the MetroRail.

Cons: Riding a bicycle can be dangerous if you don’t know the laws and signals that apply to cyclists. Also, you don’t have air conditioning. If you don’t think that’s an issue, just wait for the summer.

The basics:

Public Transportation

Capital Metro is Austin’s regional public transportation provider. Among the services CapMetro provides there is a tool that helps you plan your trip http://www.capmetro.org/planner/default.aspx

You can download the mobile app for tickets, schedules, routes and notifications. http://www.capmetro.org/app/

Free rides

-UT students, faculty, and staff with a valid UT photo ID.

-Children five and under with an accompanying adult.

-Emergency and military personnel in uniform.

Reduced Fare Program

-Students 6–18 years of age with valid school ID.

-Active military/reserve duty personnel with military ID.

-Seniors 65 and over.

-Medicare card holders,

-Riders with disabilities.

http://www.capmetro.org/RFID/

MetroRail

It covers the North, East and Central parts of the city, from Leander all the way to Downtown Austin (on 4th Street between Trinity and Red River Street). It runs parallel to Research Boulevard (US183)* and continues along Airport Boulevard.

*Quick note: Most of the main avenues in Austin have two names, so keep that in mind when someone tells you to take the Highway Loop 1 and your GPS sends you to Mopac.

Pros:

-It is a great option for covering large distances, particularly if you live on the northeast area and work downtown (or viceversa).

-Some stations have parking for your vehicle.

-You can take your bike inside the train.

-Service every 20-40 minutes from Monday through Thursday, starting between 5 – 6 am, and ending around 6 – 7pm (northbound and southbound, respectively).

-On Friday, the services are extended until 11 pm (southbound) and 12:30 am (northbound).

-Air conditioning and Wi-Fi.

Cons:

-On Saturdays, it only works from 4pm till midnight.

-There is no service on Sundays.

-It doesn’t cover the west or south areas.

If trains are full, bikes may be limited to eight total per train, or four per compartment.

http://www.capmetro.org/schedmap/?svc=2

MetroRapid

It’s a bendy bus that has two routes, and, unlike the MetroRail, it also covers the South area. Route 801 goes from North Lamar to South Congress and Route 803 goes from Burnet to South Lamar. The routes run parallel the Interstate 35 (I35).

Pros:

-Great option for covering large distances, particularly if you live on the south area and need to move through downtown and central Austin.

-You can take your bike with you.

-Service hours, from Monday through Saturday, from 5 – 6 am to 12:30 am, every 15-20 mins.

-Service on Sundays, from 7 am to 10:30 pm.

Cons:

-It doesn’t cover the west or further north areas (Round Rock, Cedar Park).

http://www.capmetro.org/schedmap/?svc=1

MetroBus

Capital Metro’s bus routes connect all areas and metro stations of Austin. The fares start at $1.25 for a single ride, and there are daily, weekly and monthly passes. You can buy passes online, through the mobile app, on local grocery stores like H-E-B and Randall’s, at MetroRail Stations and Onboard.

http://www.capmetro.org/fares.dev.aspx?id=4210

Service Categories:

  •         Local: the routes reach a wider variety of neighborhoods, but make more frequent stops.
  •         Premium: fewer stops to get you to further destinations faster.
  •         Commuter: routes extend beyond the metropolitan area and make connection with the MetroRail.
  •         MetroAccess: transit service parallel to regular fixed-route service, for people whose disabilities limit or prevent them from riding regular bus and rail service.

Pros:

-Service Monday through Sunday, every 20-30 minutes from 5 – 6 am till midnight.

-Great for people who live in suburban communities but work in the city.

Cons:

-More stops than the MetroRapid or MetroRail.

-Only folding bikes are allowed inside the bus.

-The buses front racks can hold up to two or three bicycles.

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