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CapMetro ridership up in 2018, Austinites say it's a side effect of city's growth

After years of declining passengers, CapMetro ridership increased in 2018. (CBS Austin)

After years of declining passengers, CapMetro ridership increased in 2018.

Ridership in December 2018 was up by 5.4 percent compared to December the previous year. For the entire year, ridership increased by 2.2 percent.

CapMetro officials say changes they have made -- like adjusting routes with their Cap Remap system -- may have something to do with these increases.

"Public transit will have to be a bigger and bigger part of the equation," said CapMetro's Todd Hemingson. "Really makes it very convenient. The ridership is great, but what we really want to is improve the lives of the people in Austin by providing that mobility."

Perhaps the most notable jump: a 30 percent increase of riders on Metro Express routes, which use MoPac express lanes to get people downtown.

Bus riders say they rather take the bus than drive in the daily traffic backups themselves. "I mean, nobody wants to drive on MoPac or 35 ever," said Colby Louis. "I can get some work done, be a little more productive on the bus, and then also parking downtown is about $300 a month, where a monthly bus pass is about $30."

Traffic is the primary reason more Austinites say they are choosing CapMetro. Over the last ten years, Austin's population has jumped by more than 30 percent. With that growth, comes more cars on the road, plus less available parking.

CapMetro riders say with all of this, they're not surprised more people are taking the bus. "Because there are so many cars, the parking is horrendous. I don't want to have to focus on if I can find a parking spot Downtown or not," said Tamera Crawford.

In six of the last seven months of 2018, CapMetro saw increased ridership compared to the year before.

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