Local activists, service industry employees push for later buses

AUSTIN -- People who go to bars and people who work at bars are often in the same situation at the end of the night. Without a car, and with few late night transportation options, many who work in the service industry must come up with other ways home.

"I live like right across the highway, and I can't get home from anywhere I would want to be without walking or riding my bike most of the way," said Georgia Swan, who works in the service industry.

"I had to leave work earlier because I worked at a bar to take the bus in time to get home," said Adan De La Torre, who works at a bar.

Capital Metro offers five Night Owl bus routes that run until about 3 a.m. They start at 6th Street and Congress Avenue and fan out.

"It's not convenient to a lot of people in town," said Sara LeVine, founder of ATX Safer Streets. "The routes are specifically designed to end at park and rides so for a lot of people that us them they still have to drive home at the end of the night."

LeVine's not a bartender anymore, but she's taking on the problems she had when she was one. She asked 651 people to fill out a casual online survey. The results show 67 percent of people drive home from the bar, 66 percent have driven home intoxicated because they felt they didn't have a viable option and 94 percent said they would take public transit if it was available and offered later trips.

Capital Metro tells KVUE they are not considering continuing bus services later into the night. They say it's just not in the budget, and it would take away from day services they already offer.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has requested they consider later routes to keep drunk drivers off the streets, but it can't all be up to the city.

"You've gotta just be responsible," Acevedo said. "Safety starts with personal responsibility having said that, the more options we give folks so they make better choices, the better off we're going to be."


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