Hi-tech MetroRapid buses make weekend debut - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Hi-tech MetroRapid buses make weekend debut

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It's called MetroRapid -- and it's a more frequent bus service from Cap Metro that runs from Tech Ridge to Southpark Meadows.

The new bus service launched early Sunday morning.

"Not very many stops.  Goes really fast.  Got me here in about 30 minutes," said bus rider Chris Surgeon.

Cap Metro says the new big red extra long buses have 3 doors instead of one, free Wi-Fi, more headroom and LED lighting.

"Comfortable, nice and warm.  Extra long...I mean, it's impossible to be crowded on that bus," Surgeon said.

As far as the frequency part goes, they'll run every 10 to 12 minutes during peak hours and 12 to 20 minutes during non-peak hours.
  
On the weekends -- 20 to 30 minutes.

Francine Pares with Cap Metro says part of what makes that faster journey possible is the ability to control traffic signals.
  
"We do have the transit signal priority technology that also helps with the frequency.  So if a vehicle is running behind schedule, it can hold a green light a few seconds longer so that the vehicle can make it safely through the intersection.  And that also helps the vehicles stay on schedule.  That 10 to 12 minute frequency is real important," Pares said.

Along with the new buses come a 3 tiered rate system: Local, Premium and Commuter.

The new buses are considered premium -- it costs $1.50 to ride.

You can buy your fare through the new Cap Metro App and then use your phone to actually get onto the bus.

Yeah...it's a lot to take in.  If you're an Austin bus fanatic, Francine Pares says 'don't worry,' there will be lots of staff and volunteers at all stations and on the buses for the next few days to help out.

"It is new so there may be some questions about...'How do I pay?'  'How do I board?'  Even with the bike racks, they're a new type of bike rack," Pares said.

One of the less popular features of the new MetroRapid buses are the "bus only lanes."
  
The point is to move traffic along smoother but as we reported earlier in the week, some folks aren't getting the thinking behind that.
  
And if you're out on the road, whatever you do, don't drive or park in one.  Because this week the city council decided to raise the fine for doing so from $25 up to $500.

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