New UT shuttles may feature pay boxes, as Capital Metro phases out old buses

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Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Students may have to start swiping their student IDs every time they ride on a UT shuttle bus route after Capital Metro phases out the older bus models for city buses.

Capital Metro plans to gradually trade out the orange and white UT shuttle buses for the city-style models in part to standardize the look of the bus system, Amy Peck, communications specialist at Capital Metro, told The Daily Texan in late September.

While the current UT shuttle buses don’t have fare boxes for students to swipe their student IDs, the city buses have fare boxes at the front of the bus which require students to swipe their ID card to serve as their fare. UT students are able to access any Capital Metro service for free with their student IDs.

Melissa Ayala, communications specialist at Capital Metro, said the UT shuttle buses have been scheduled to be phased out for nearly five years.

“If changes are made, Capital Metro and the University will work closely to communicate the transition to students,” Ayala said in an email. “We understand it would be a change for students, but believe the transition will roll out smoothly operationally as we have extensive experience in ID/fare swiping at the fareboxes on our mainline fleet.”

Peck said the transition is also occurring because the UT shuttle buses are reaching the end of their lifespan.

“Based on the fact that those UT shuttle buses date back to 1997, and they’ve lived out their lives, and so, as we can, we’re replacing them with Capital Metro-branded or Capital Metro-looking vehicles,” Peck said.

Civil engineering freshman Juan Aguirre said he rides the shuttle buses almost every day to get across campus from his dorm to work and said that the pay boxes would be a little inconvenient for him.

“I know it’s just a little effort just to swipe a card, but it’s just more of an inconvenience than anything,”

Aguirre said. “It’s easy just to hop on the bus and just get off within five to 10 minutes rather than swiping the card and having to get it out — and you could forget it.”

Linguistics junior Noli Chew said she likes to take the Intramural Fields shuttle bus instead of the Woodrow/South Fifth bus, even though they follow a similar route, because the shuttle bus is easier to get on.

“I can live with [the pay boxes], but the huge scramble to get here all the way from North Campus — when there’s already so many people piling on to the point where sometimes the buses have to stop picking people up,” Chew said.

Chew said although she wouldn’t find the implementation of pay boxes to be too much of an inconvenience for herself, she said she thinks it would definitely affect non-UT students who use the shuttle buses.

“Personally, it doesn’t affect me too much, but it would affect non-UT people who use the [shuttle buses],” Chew said. “It would be sad to see that they wouldn’t be able to have the same kind of transportation — even though it’s not meant for them.”