Lake Austin

Bus No. 663 — Lake Austin is the only UT shuttle loop from the Lake Austin area to campus. With three University apartments, Brackenridge, Colorado and Gateway, located on Lake Austin Boulevard, a large number of graduate students populate the route.  

Specifically, according to Division of Housing and Food Service statistics, 688 residents live in those three apartments, of whom 89.1 percent are Ph.D. students and 6.8 percent are master’s students. 

And that may still be an inaccurate picture. 

Many graduate students have families or are sharing rooms with other graduate students, so the real population is probably greater.

However, commuting between two places is not easy. The general wait time for the Lake Austin route can range from 10 to 30 minutes, a huge contrast compared to the two to five minutes it takes to catch a Far West bus. In addition, the night shift is extremely unpredictable. Yueun Lee, a master’s student in nursing, told us that one shift is constantly missing between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m..   

Part of the reason for the long wait times is the the number of buses UT distributes to each route. Capital Metro, the University’s public transportation provider, details in its data that 17 buses run through Riverside, 10 through Far West and only four through Lake Austin, dropping to three along this route after 10 a.m on weekday mornings. 

“If they can increase the frequency of the bus during rush hours, that will be great,” said Gurpreet Singh, a petroleum and geosystems engineering Ph.D. candidate. “That’s the time when people are coming and leaving.”  

The buses’ occupancy changes greatly throughout the day. Starting from 10:30 a.m., they are almost empty with only one or two students riding. During the lunch rush, riders are forced to sit in traffic jams since the bus runs through downtown Austin. 

This odd routing decision leads to another delay. James Hudson, a history Ph.D. candidate and a Colorado Apartment resident, said it is a huge waste of time for LA bus to go through downtown. And he gives his own suggestion: “The bus should turn left onto Lamar, then go north to the ramp that merges up onto 15th Street. That way the shuttle could bypass downtown and avoid getting caught in all the morning traffic.” 

We asked if the University has considered changing to other routes. Blanca Gamez, assistant irector of UT’s Parking and Transportation Services, responded.  

“The planners have worked over the years with shuttle bus representatives to find the most efficient route to campus,” Gamez said. “The route the shuttles currently take is the best route based on various factors.”  

As far as we can tell, it is clearly not the best option. When the morning traffic in downtown gets slow, the travel time extends to 30 minutes for what is usually a 10-minute drive. 

To solve this problem, the University not only has to think of a better route option and increase the frequency of the bus, but students also have to make their voices heard. 

Some already have.

Bamars Santos, a driver of the 663, got seven complaint letters in just three months. All of the letters were pointed towards bus delays. Both the University and Capital Metro did not explain how they address those complaints.   

We acknowledge that the bus service is expensive. For the academic year 14-15, UT will pay Capital Metro more than $4.5 million for all the shuttle services. Plus, other options on this route, such as Buses 22, 21 or 18, all take students to campus. However, in the long term, this unreliable schedule can drive students to purchase cars in order to arrive at class on time, which adds more financial cost. Let’s not stray from the good intention of saving students time and money, and make a feasible plan for keeping the buses on time.

Photo Credit: Connor Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

As the class of 2018 arrives on the 40 Acres, the dorms are being flooded with anxious freshmen waiting for the moment they get to meet their new roommates and determine who gets the bed next to the window. But while campus maintains a fluid ecosystem of students entering and leaving UT, the city of Austin does not have an admissions office to keep population in check. 

Ranked “America’s Fastest-Growing City” by Forbes, Austin is in a state of growth unparalleled by the average metropolis. It turns out that the city that “keeps it weird” is no longer known solely for churning out live music and Longhorn graduates. Traffic is quickly becoming another staple of the city, making public transportation a necessity.

Here are The Daily Texan’s best pieces of advice for being public transportation-savvy this year:

Shuttle systems

Austin’s primary public transportation system is the Capital Metro bus service, which includes UT shuttle buses. CapMetro is free to all students with a UT ID and has stops on almost every corner of campus. There are blue and white CapMetro buses distinguished by a number and a street name. For example, one might see “7 Duval” in a banner above the driver’s seat. In addition to the CapMetro buses running through campus, there are also burnt orange UT shuttles. CapMetro’s newest additions to the shuttle system are the new MetroRapid buses, which are longer gray and red buses that make fewer stops and arrive more frequently. At each MetroRapid stop, a digital sign indicates the exact amount of time before the next bus arrives. 

UT shuttles will have a location, such as “West Campus” or “Lake Austin,” displayed on the bus’ banner. UT shuttles have shorter routes, usually taking UT students and staff around campus and the immediate surrounding areas, whereas regular CapMetro buses travel farther distances. Both are free for those with UT ID, and their routes
often overlap. 

Applications

If you have a smart phone, the quickest, most accurate way to become familiar with the bus system is to download a bus schedule app. The CapMetro app is free and offers access to the schedules for “favorited” stops. You can view maps by service or route number. The application has a particularly useful feature called “Trip Planner.” Enter the desired destination, and a number of route options will
queue up. 

Another route planning application is “Transit Trip Planner.” The app requires the user to type in the destination — the starting location is automatically entered — and then multiple routes and times are shown to the user. The app is user-friendly and shows the selected route on a map.

Routes

Most bus routes that are based on campus are built for students and the locations they frequent most. For students who live in San Jacinto Residence Hall and have a class in the northern part of campus, the West Campus bus is ideal. For late-night rides to Sixth Street every Thursday, it’s the E-Bus. Below are some of the most useful, popular bus routes.

40 Acres — Travels clockwise around campus on San Jacinto Boulevard, 21st Street, Guadalupe Street, Dean Keeton Street, Robert Dedman Drive and 23rd Street. It helps with getting to class on time. 

E-Bus — The E-Bus is a late night service that picks up passengers from UT, West Campus and Riverside and provides a safe alternative to driving to and from Austin’s entertainment district during weekend evenings (Thursday-Saturday from 8:30 p.m.–3 a.m.).

Lake Austin — Serves University housing at the Brackenridge, Gateway and Colorado apartments, Lake Austin Boulevard, and Fifth and Sixth streets, west of Lamar Boulevard. It stops on campus at 21st/San Jacinto, 21st/Speedway and 21st/Whitis Avenue. It’s perfect for going to Whole Foods or the trail around Lady Bird Lake.

West Campus — Circulates counterclockwise, stopping at San Jacinto/23rd, Dean Keeton/Speedway, 27th/Whitis, 26th, San Gabriel Street, 22nd Street and 21st Street.

100 Metro/Airport Flyer — Picks up on San Jacinto and 23rd. Bus 100-MetroAirport takes students from campus to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in approximately 35 minutes. 

MetroRapid — Runs every 12-15 minutes along two routes: the 801 along North Lamar Boulevard to South Congress, and the 803 along Burnet Road to South
Lamar Boulevard.

Public relations senior Cody Levy (left) and finance junior Kyle Jenkins, members of UT's bass fishing team, weigh their catch.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

UT’s fastest growing sport doesn’t compete at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium or on the court at the Frank Erwin Center. In fact, this sport doesn’t even take place on the 40 Acres. It happens on Lake Austin — with the help of a rod and reel.

The Texas bass fishing team has more than doubled in size since its founding in 2008. After starting with just seven active members and a few sponsors, the team now has 15 fishermen and eight sponsors.

“The Texas bass team was pretty small when I joined,” said Cody Levy, public relations senior and team president. “I became president of the team with a goal of fishing more tournaments, gaining more members and securing more sponsorships to help with expenses. This year, we have started right where we left off and have been growing and securing bigger and better sponsorships.”

Wade Middleton, director of collegiate operations for the Association of Collegiate Anglers, said collegiate fishing, even outside of Texas, is growing at an unprecedented rate.

“There are now over 250 schools nationwide that actively compete yearly,” Middleton said. “College fishing has grown about 400 percent since the ACA had its first event nine years ago.”

The Texas team hosted its first ever competition, the University of Texas Collegiate Invitational, on Lake Austin last Sunday.

“This is an Association of Collegiate Anglers event for all colleges,” Levy said. “I think everyone is going to talk about for it for years because it is the first college fishing tournament that guarantees all anglers will be rewarded with at least some [equipment] after the competition.”

In a collegiate bass fishing tournament, each school sends at least one team of one or two anglers who fish from the same boat for eight hours. If an angler wants to fish alone, the tournament director may assign a non-fishing observer to accompany the angler. Teams are scored based on the combined weight of their five heaviest bass of at least 15 inches in length.

“Largemouth bass, spotted bass and smallmouth bass are counted,” Levy said. “Bass presented for weigh-in that fail to measure the official length are not counted.”

Of the 10 schools that competed in Sunday’s tournament, the Longhorns’ top pairing of Carter Lyon and Carlos De La Fuente finished eighth overall, with a combined weight of 17.52 pounds. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s top duo won the event with a combined weight of 26.79 pounds.

The result may not have been what Texas was looking for, but the team’s passion and desire to succeed remains as high as ever.

“When I went through a breakup, that feeling didn’t even come close to the pain I was feeling when I lost a bass while fishing,” Levy said. “No matter what I go through, I will always be a fisherman and never give up.”

Sex columns turn some on, others off

From commenter “healthyhorn” on our website in response to Sexy Sally’s column on masturbation.

- From “Laurie/Blondie” on Twitter in response to a tweet about one of The Daily Texan’s new sex columns. 

Get your water facts straight

- From commenter “Do your homework” on our website in response to editorial “Austinites should take one for the team and let the water level in Lake Austin be lowered.”

Coaching coverage

- On Twitter from Brianna Fuller

One of the most important and overlooked episodes in the history of the American West was the battle over the water of Owens Valley in California around the turn of the 20th century.

The California Water Wars, as the quarrel became known, began a long tradition of conflict between the cities and rural areas of the West for the region’s most precious resource. One such dispute is taking place right now in Texas, over Austin’s share of the Colorado River.

The Owens Valley, populated mostly by small farmers and ranchers, had the misfortune to be the most accessible source of fresh water to the growing city of Los Angeles. The leaders of that city, eager to sustain its rapid expansion, engaged in a decades-long campaign of deception and underhanded tactics to strong-arm the locals out of their water.

Once the rights to the water were secured, they built a 223-mile-long aqueduct to divert it from Owens Valley to Los Angeles. Owens Valley dried up, and everybody knows what happened to Los Angeles.

Cut to central Texas in the present day.

The Lower Colorado River Authority, which manages water, energy and flood control for much of Central and Southeast Texas, came under fire in August for debating whether to artificially lower the level of Lake Austin by 2 to 4 feet to capture more rainfall and deal more effectively with the current drought.

Lake Austin is normally kept at a constant level with inflows from Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan further upstream.

Many Austinites, primarily those with lakefront property that would be devalued if the water receded, vehemently protested the plan to lower the water level. LCRA Chairman Timothy Timmerman announced on Sept. 12 that the idea had been shelved.

“Our board is looking at innovative ways to expand and extend our water supply, but the idea of lowering the lakes is not and has not been a serious consideration,” Timmerman said.

The next innovative proposal, it seems, is to shut off the flow of fresh water from the Highland lakes to Matagorda Bay, the second-largest estuary system on the Texas Gulf Coast. On Sept. 18, the LCRA board voted to request an exemption from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s requirement that it release fresh water from the lakes to the bay.

If the LCRA gets its way, the denial of water to Matagorda Bay would persist for 120 days, or until the combined level of Lakes Travis and Buchanan returns to 900,000 acre-feet. It currently sits at 638,000 acre-feet, or 32 percent full, and in the current climate such a rise seems unlikely.

Matagorda Bay depends on the consistent influx of fresh water from the Colorado to sustain its ecosystem, which includes a wide variety of fish, shellfish, waterfowl and other wildlife. Salinity levels have risen in the estuary due to cuts LCRA has already made to the freshwater flows, and cutting the flows off completely would almost certainly push the salinity to lethal levels.

It’s not only a question of environmental conservation. One of the state’s largest shrimping fleets operates in Matagorda Bay, and local officials say the rising salinity levels have already hurt the area’s fishing industry.

Cutting the bay’s fresh water would save less than 5 percent of the amount Austin uses in a year. Austin currently operates under Stage 2 water restrictions, and residents can only water their lawns once a week. The city has done an admirable job in recent years of lowering its total water consumption despite increasing its population, but in such a severe drought we fail to understand why the lawns need to be watered at all. They’re lawns.

We agree with those in the Matagorda Bay area that the estuary needs the water far more than Austin does if Austin still has enough left over to water lawns and preserve expensive lakefront property. The amount of water that goes to Matagorda Bay is insignificant next to the amount used by Austin, and in times of scarcity, it’s only fair that the most demanding consumers should bear the heaviest burden.

Sadly, the protesters from the bay area and from state environmental groups failed to persuade the LCRA, as the louder voices of Austin’s lakefront property owners had succeeded less than a week before in convincing the agency to not lower Lake Austin. But the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has a little under two weeks to approve the agency’s request. We hope they send the LCRA back to the drawing board.