AUSTIN -- By this time next year, there will be a new way to get around Austin, the rapid way.
"Brand new, sleek buses like nobody in Austin has seen before," said Capital Metro President and CEO Linda Watson.
Capital Metro gave KVUE News a ride on one of its new 60-foot buses.
The driver, Guy Lowe, has been driving for Capital Metro for 10 years. He's pretty happy with the new fleet.
"More bells and whistles. Better bells and whistles," laughed Lowe.
All the buses are equipped with security cameras and have a new layout, making them safer to drive.
"Everything is within reach. You don't have to turn your head to do all this, everything is within reach up there. Which versus the other buses everything is everywhere," said Lowe.
Plus the buses have GPS systems, a benefit for people waiting at the bus stop.
"Each of those 77 bus stops will have a digital message sign that will provide, on a dynamic basis, the predicted arrival time," said Capital Metro Vice President and Chief Information Officer Joe Lannello.
Even the way the Cap Metro Rapid buses get to those stops is advanced. Through Downtown Austin there will be designated bus lanes. And the buses have transit signal priority to get through traffic faster.
"It can talk to signal lights. So if the bus is running behind schedule, it can keep a signal light green so that the bus, and any other lucky automobiles around it, can get through the green lights quicker," explained Watson.
Riders will also get some benefits.
"Each of the buses will have free customer wi-fi available," Iannello said.
And the way you get on the bus is upgraded too. The buses have three doors instead of one. And you can get on using a monthly card or new ticket app.
"You'll be able to purchase your ticket, you'll be able to activate them and then use your smart device as the actually ticket as your board the bus," said Iannello.
The buses will have two routes. The first, opening in early 2014, will run from North Lamar Boulevard to South Congress Avenue. The second route opens in the summer of 2014. It will run from North Burnet Road to South Lamar Boulevard.
Each of the buses costs about $550,000 compared to a standard bus that costs about $400,000. But Watson notes that the Rapid buses can hold up to 40 more people.
The total cost to implement the rapid system is about $47.6 million. Eighty percent of that money came from a federal grant.
The Rapid buses are considered a premium service, so they will come with a premium price. Capital Metro is taking public input to determine exactly how much more a ride will cost.