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Public Transportation in Austin

Learning how to get around using public transportation in Austin is an important step in adjusting to life in Austin. In this article, we cover the local public transportation options.
|-Public Transportation in Austin

Public transportation in Austin, Texas is a mix of buses, light rail, and bike-sharing services. The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, commonly known as CapMetro, operates the majority of the public transportation in the city, including the MetroBus, MetroRapid, and MetroRail services. In addition, Austin B-cycle, a bike-sharing service, offers an alternative mode of transportation. For those who prefer a more active commute, Austin’s extensive network of bike lanes and trails make it a bike-friendly city. Whether an expat could live comfortably in Austin without a car largely depends on their lifestyle and where they live and work in the city. While public transportation is available, Austin is a sprawling city and some areas are better served by public transportation than others.

CapMetro Bus Services

The CapMetro Bus Services, which includes the MetroBus and MetroRapid, is the backbone of Austin’s public transportation system. The MetroBus has over 80 routes that crisscross the city, while the MetroRapid offers limited-stop service on two of the city’s main thoroughfares. Buses generally run from early morning until late at night, with some routes offering “Night Owl” service until 3 a.m. The cost of a single ride is $1.25 for the MetroBus and $1.75 for the MetroRapid. Monthly passes are also available. While the bus system is generally safe, like any public transportation system, it’s always important to stay aware of your surroundings, especially when traveling alone or at night.

CapMetro Rail Services

The CapMetro Rail Services, or MetroRail, is a light rail system that runs from downtown Austin to the city’s northern suburbs. The MetroRail has nine stations along its 32-mile route, and operates Monday through Saturday. A single ride costs $3.50, with day passes available for $7.00. The MetroRail is a safe and reliable mode of transportation, but its limited route and operating hours may not make it a viable option for everyone.

Austin B-cycle

Austin B-cycle is a bike-sharing service with over 80 stations located throughout the city. Users can rent a bike for a single trip, or purchase a day pass for unlimited 60-minute rides. The cost of a single 30-minute ride is $3.00, while a day pass is $12.00. B-cycle is a great option for short trips or for getting around downtown, but may not be practical for longer commutes. As with any form of active transportation, safety is a concern, especially when riding in traffic. However, Austin’s many bike lanes and trails make it easier to navigate the city safely.

Walking and Biking

Walking and biking are also viable modes of transportation in Austin, especially in the downtown area and in neighborhoods like Hyde Park and South Congress, which are known for their walkability. Austin’s temperate climate makes it possible to walk or bike year-round, although the summer heat can be intense. The city has made efforts to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, but as always, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings.

In conclusion, while Austin’s public transportation system is not as extensive or as heavily used as those in cities like New York or San Francisco, it is possible to live in Austin without a car, especially if you live and work in areas well-served by public transportation. However, having a car can make getting around the city more convenient, especially for trips outside of the city or for those living in areas not well-served by public transportation.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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