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How to get around SXSW traffic

You can still get to where you need to go faster by planning ahead.

AUSTIN, Texas — With many local schools and the Texas Legislature still in session during this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival, roads may be a little more congested than usual.

Austin officials say between a quarter and almost half a million people are expected to descend into the city during the nine days of the event, and unlike in years past, schools and the legislature will be in session – resulting in more traffic.

But you can still get to where you need to go faster by planning ahead.

Take public transportation

Catch a ride with Capital Metro, but remember -- MetroRail will be at capacity throughout the festival. But you can also avoid the crowd by taking a bus.

The new MetroRapid Routes 801 and 803 will get you to Republic Square to connect to more than a dozen other routes. A special Route 985 will operate during the festival any time MetroRail does, meaning an alternative route to Lakeline or Leander when Downtown Station is packed late at night.

MetroRail will have extended services for SXSW, so check times ahead for week one and week two. Thursday through Saturday, March 14-16, riders can park at New Life Park & Ride and use the Route 445 shuttle to Howard Station to take MetroRail.

As always, you get to and from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Route 20.

Download the new CapMetro App to buy passes and plan trips on the go.

Check for road closures

Downtown will have several road closures in the coming weeks for special events. Keep up to date by checking the city’s official map for the spring festival season.

Using a GPS app with real-time traffic date like Google Maps or Waze can help get you where you need to go with an alternative route, if necessary.

Take a bike

The Austin Bike Map is a great way to find the most comfortable route to get around. If you are cycling around Austin, keep in mind bicycles are allowed on urban trails, but must be dismounted when entering pedestrian zones.

If you want to cycle but don’t have a bike of your own, check out B-Cycle or a dockless bike -- you could even get an electric one.

Take a scooter

While the city has a love-hate relationship with dockless scooters, it could be a great way to reach your destination. Remember to follow traffic laws and operate your scooter as you would a bicycle, meaning ride in bike lanes, not on sidewalks, and yield to pedestrians.

When you’re done with your scooter, please don’t block the right of way!

Ride-hail or carpool

If you really must use a car, carpooling is a great way to decrease congestion. MetroRideshare is a convenient way for you and your coworkers to get straight to the office and back home.

Car-share options also include car2go and Zipcar.


If you’re lucky enough to have an employer that will let you work from home, consider teleworking when possible.

The time you save on your commute means greater productivity.

Opt for flexible work hours

While SXSW will mean more congestion, peak commute hours will always be the worst times to drive. See if you can avoid the morning and evening rushes by coming into work earlier or later.

Take a ‘staycation’

Is there a hotel near your work? If your work isn’t located downtown amid all the festivalgoers, consider hoteling, if that is an option -- no commute. Treat yourself.

Whatever you do to avoid the traffic this March, remember to stay safe:

  • If you see something suspicious, say something and call 911.
  • Don't leave valuables, including keys, in plain sight in your car.
  • Don't drive drunk and note that both weekends will have no refusal testing.


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