"We own it, Let's run it!"


Most Bus Riders are exempt from Austin's Transportation User Fee

Part of every residential City of Austin utility bill is a charge for "Transportation User Fee" (TUF). One of the provisions of this fee is that people who don't own or drive cars are exempt from the fee. You can easily claim your exemption by calling the City's utility billing department at 494-9400.

The monthly amount charged for TUF varies slightly depending on whether you live in a house, duplex, or apartment, but is around $3.30/month, or $39.60/year.

Notice that the exemption actually has nothing to do with whether you walk,cycle or ride the bus; you get the exemption if you don't own and don't drive a car.

This exemption is not new, it's just not widely known. The exemption has always been a part of the TUF, which was authorized by the City Council in the mid-90s. If you want to check it out for yourself, the text for the TUF and the exemption are found in 14-10 of the Austin City Code. (The exemption for non-motorists is listed under 14-10-14(D)(1).)

Note: We've had reports that City phone reps are denying the TUF exemption to callers who have a driver's license, even if they don't own or drive a car. This is wrong; merely possessing a driver's license shouldn't disqualify you from getting the exemption. If they try to do this to you, contact the Urban Transportation Commission.

Thanks, "Derek V."for this info!


Jarrett Walker is a reknown transit planning consultant. Click below for an excellent explanation on the efficiency and preferability of a grid system for cities like Austin:



The Bus Riders Union - ATX

Plan for a Transit Grid System in Austin, Texas

October 2009

The Bus Riders Union-ATX endeavors to replace the current costly, outdated, and inefficient Austin transit system with a modern, fair and economical system based on a grid with IH35 and the Cesar Chavez Blvd. as its axes.

The current "hub and spoke" transit system in Austin is a vestige of a system designed during the Jim Crow era.

Over time, a cumbersome, inefficient and still essentially segregated system has evolved through a long time patchworking of the system in relation to the growth of the city. In fact, even the original "hub" in front of the Texas Capitol has been removed from the system.

A grid system better suits the modern infrastructure and social realities of today's Austin. The best examples of a grid system can be found in Portland, Oregon, and Chicago, Illinois.

Our Goals

* Racial and economic desegregation of the system

* Better efficiency

* Expanded coverage

* Financial sustainability

* Environmental sustainability


* More understandable

* Quicker trips

* Simpler navigation which should a facilitate a)less hesitancy for first time users, b)higher tolerance for long trips, c)better opportunity for multiple stop trips, and d)closer approximation of car mobility.

* Reduced bus congestion on Congress Ave.

* Facilitates system expansion

Long term goals as a result of maximized efficiency and increased ridership

* 24 / 7 / 365 service

* Societal integration

* Reduced traffic congestion

* Increased mobility for all

* Potential for wide regional coverage

* Return Congress Avenue to a motor vehicle-free promenade as originally intended

The Grid

The north/south axis of the grid is IH35.(Route "D") This is the primary artery for Austin. The master plan for Austin for decades is predicated on growth to be guided in a north and south orientation along this interstate highway. The intent is and was to discourage growth into the environmentally sensitive ares to the west of Austin. The corridor has however lacked a bus route despite it's attractiveness. This IH35 route is the starting point for this system.

The east/west axis of the grid is along Lake Austin Blvd. and Caesar Chavez Blvd. (Route "NN") The recent conversion of Caesar Chavez Blvd. to a two-way street signals the the City of Austin's intent to emphasize this natural corridor.

Route "X" is the only diagonal route. It runs along Airport Blvd. which is an irresistible natural corridor serving Crestview Station, Meuller, the river crossing at Montopolis Dr. and ABIA.

The rest of the grid plays off these axes and the primary arteries that have developed over time. The distribution is even from north to south, and east to west.

There are 8 north/south routes, 21 east/west routes, and 1 diagonal route for a total of 30 primary grid routes.

All of the current service area is served and the straighter alignments along with reduced overlay allow for expansion to areas that are under served using the current number of revenue hours.

The grid system facilitates better and less frequent transfers and acknowledges the decentralization of modern Austin.

The Route alignments


single letters are north/south routes

double letters are east/west routes

"X" is a northwest/southeast diagonal route

route : alignment

A : Mesa Dr. - Balcones Dr. -35th St. - Exposition Blvd.

B : Burnet Rd. - 45th St. - North Lamar Blvd. - Manchaca Rd.

C : North Lamar Blvd.- Guadalupe St. - South First St.

D : IH 35

E : Dessau Rd.- Cameron Rd. - Red River St. - South Congress Ave.

F : Pleasant Valley Rd. - Burleson Rd. - Todd Lane - Pleasant Valley Rd.

G : Springdale Rd. - 7th St. - Montopolis Dr.

H : Ed Bluestein Blvd.


X : Airport Blvd. - Bastrop Hwy


AA : Parmer from State farm Way to Dessau Rd.

BB : Braker Lane from 183 to Dessau Rd.

CC : Rundberg Lane- Rutland Blvd - Ferguson Lane

DD : Spicewood Springs Rd. - Anderson Lane

EE : Justin Lane - St. John's Ave.

FF : RR 2222 - US Hwy 290

GG : Hancock Dr.- North Loop Blvd. - 51st St.

HH : Perry - Lane - 45th St.

II : 35th St. - 38th St.- 38 1/2 St.

JJ : Windsor Rd. - 24th St.- Dean Keeton St. - Manor Rd. - Loyola Lane

KK : Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

LL : Enfield Rd.- 15th St. - 12thSt.

MM : 5th St./6th St. - 7th St.

NN : Lake Austin Blvd. - Cesar Chavez St.

OO : Bee Caves Rd. - Barton Springs Rd. - E. Riverside Dr.

PP : Southwest Parkway - South Lamar Blvd.-Oltorf St.

QQ : Ben White Blvd.

RR : Jones Rd. - Stassney Lane

SS : William Cannon Dr.

TT : Davis Lane - Dittmar Rd. - Foremost Dr.

UU : Slaughter Lane

The plan assumes:

An integrated system without separate Dillo, UT, or exclusive Express buses.

Maintenance and eventual expansion of current service levels, or "revenue hours."

Eventual adoption of the Bus Riders Union - ATX Fare-free proposal of April 2008 to maximize system efficiency.

Engagement of the transit authority on refinement of the plan. This includes:

a) Secondary arterial routing in the central city. Examples of this are Speedway, Rosewood Ave., and Duval Ave. These corridors are currently served and portions of the current alignments are already highly efficient.

b) Connection of routes to create "loops" for maximum efficiency.

c) Turnarounds at route endpoints.

d) Satellite routing of smaller more efficient vehicles in outlying areas.

e) A demand response system for the most outlying areas.

f) Amenities.


Proper implementation of this plan will further the stated mission of the Capital Metro Transportation Authority. It will improve mobility for all residents, including motorists. Through fuel savings and greater efficiency it will improve air quality and stave of EPA clean air non-attainment and the resultant penalties.

The plan removes so many inefficiencies through streamlining, straighter alignments, reduction of overlays, maximized utilization of arterial infrastructure, and structural integration of the UT Shuttle, Dillo and Express routes, that enough service, will be freed up to immediately run a 24 hour system with 10 minute frequencies on the basic grid.

The positive impact will be immediate in terms of mobility, air quality and congestion. Over time, the plan will steadily improve the quality of life for all Austin area residents.

Route Maps Here

N/S axis map (route "D")

E/W axis map (route "NN")

Turns and Mileage Here


Help Us Improve the System!

We at BRU-ATX are serious about improving the Capital Metro transit system. We are kicking off a number of campaigns to this end. Stay up to date on our efforts to make improvements and point out deficiencies. Feel free to weigh in on any issue we're tackling, such as redesigning routes or picking the worst bus stop in town.

  • Demanding Higher Services

    1. More wheelchair space inside bus
    2. Bicycles
    3. Moratorium on raiding of service from Eastside and other working class neighborhoods
    4. Proportional spending between bus and rail
    5. A genuine seat at the decision making table for the Bus Riders Union-ATX

      Our goals include: a) Desegregation of the system; b) More east and west routing; c) 365/24/7 service; d) Better overall frequency; and e) Maximum transfer synchronization, among other issues

  • New Route Ideas: Scrapping the Old System

  • Name the Worst Bus Stop in Town

Our Free and Faster Buses Proposal

Bus Riders Union's Free and Faster Buses Proposal
-Endorse the proposal
-See other endorsements and comments

How It Would Work

All buses, vanpools, and trains would be fare-free. Passengers would simply board without paying any fare through the front and back doors.

Capital Metro budget breakdown, FY2008 budget

Fares are paid by those who need buses to get to work and home, and they are only a very small fraction of Capital Metro's budget.

Transportation costs usually cost working people the second most amount of their monthly paycheck, after housing costs.

The effects of fare-free policy would be easier access to buses, getting people out of their cars and into buses. Also, bus performance would increase because riders won't have to scrounge for change. This would reduce congestion for cars, buses, ambulances, and fire trucks too.

Free buses would also improve our decreasing air quality. Less cars means less emissions for the growing Austin area.

As bus riders, we are the true owners of the bus company in town. Taxes pay for 80% of Capital Metro's budget. Eliminating the small amount of money that fares make up would provide much, much larger benefits than just not paying for buses: buses and cars would be faster, air quality would improve, Capital Metro could cut back on unnecessary spending, and working people could get to work and home faster. It is time that we show them that we want a better bus company.

Read the Bus Riders Union's full proposal. Or contact us and we can talk to you about it. Our meetings happen at least once each month.

How It Works


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