Broken down buses slow down metro timetables in the capital

Photo by Karina Lujan/KUT. A bus parts shortage plaguing transit agencies nationwide is forcing more Cap Metro vehicles off the roads this week, leading to a reconfiguration of schedules that leaves people waiting longer than buses. buses show up.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 by Nathan Bernier, KUT

Metro commuters in the capital, already facing reduced timetables introduced last year, are facing new frustrations this week as they attempt to catch a bus.

The regional transit agency says a shortage of bus parts is keeping a small percentage of vehicles off the road each day. But the number of sidelined vehicles is enough to keep riders waiting for extra minutes.

On a typical weekday, Capital Metro needs 345 buses out of its fleet of 425 on the morning routes. On Tuesday, the agency started the day 19 short bus. Most of these vehicles – 16 of them – were banned from circulation because their air conditioning systems had failed.

“It affects our punctuality a bit,” said Andrew Murphy, director of vehicle maintenance for Capital Metro. For a high frequency route like MetroRapid, this could mean that buses arrive a few minutes late. Less busy routes could see their frequency cut from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, he said.

“It’s not like we’re cutting a route,” Murphy said. “You will get service, but it may take a little longer for your bus to arrive.” Schedule changes are supposed to appear on the Capital Metro app in real time.

People line up to board the CapMetro #20 bus on Guadalupe Street.  The destination sign on the front of the bus reads, "20 Attention/Telephones low."

Karina Lujan/KUT. Some sidelined buses may be back in service soon with further parts shipments expected over the next couple of weeks.

Murphy was less sure when the out-of-service vehicles would be able to get back on the road. Capital Metro expects a parts supplier to ship at least eight A/C compressors within the next week or two. This would put eight buses back on the road.

Another five or six buses could return to service with a much-anticipated delivery next week of parts used in bus tracking systems used by dispatch.

Other parts are harder to find. For example, the lack of a custom-sized pipe needed for the engines prevented four buses from running until October. Mechanics, where possible, removed components from inactive buses to keep others running.

This latest pressure on riders comes after the agency’s board voted in September to maintain reduced hours through 2023. The agency is still trying to hire drivers and mechanics while ridership remains stuck at around 70-75% of pre-Covid levels.

This story was produced as part of the austin monitorreporting partnership with KUT.

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