Essential tips for mastering the Austin bus system

Illustration of a bus and a hand holding a UT ID

For freshmen and seniors alike, riding the bus for the first time can be a daunting experience, but there are ways to make it smoother. Whether trying to find the best route to take or figuring out how to get off the bus, The Daily Texan compiled a list of step-by-step tips to help students get around Austin stress-free.

Download the CapMetro or Transit app

Before embarking on an adventure, the CapMetro and Transit apps help plan the entire experience. Transit provides information such as the estimated arrival time for a bus and how to get to the nearest bus stop. CapMetro displays all the available buses on a map and their routes. Both apps have a trip-planning feature, which is convenient for first-time passengers. Once users enter an address, the apps immediately display the nearest bus stop, how to get to that bus stop and the fastest route to that destination.

Arrive early

The bus system can get busy and often delayed, especially during weekdays on campus bus routes. Be sure to plan out the trip to ensure you have at least 20 minutes between arrival time and the start of a class or meeting.

Have your UT ID to board the bus

To avoid holding up the bus, have your UT ID ready to swipe at the front entrance of the bus. CapMetro allows UT students to ride for free, so don’t forget your student ID.

Pay attention to every stop

As a novice bus passenger, it’s important to be alert during the ride to know when to stop. Oftentimes, an announcement plays throughout the bus, signaling the next stop. To be safe, it’s best to use any sort of map to check how close the bus is to a specific stop. The CapMetro and Transit apps allow passengers to track the bus, and Transit even sends alerts when the designated stop is next.

Signal when you need to stop

Though a common mistake for first-time bus riders, the bus doesn’t stop at every stop. Generally, the bus only stops if there are people waiting to board at the stop or if a passenger pulls the wire running along the windows of the bus or the “Stop” button on the aisle poles is pressed. Pulling the wire or pressing the “Stop” button signals to the driver that someone needs to get off at the next stop. Once the designated stop is next, pull the wire or press the button to avoid missing it.

Thank the bus driver

Bus drivers deal with a lot on a daily basis to make Austin more affordable and accessible for residents. Be sure to give thanks to the driver before heading out to explore Austin.

Originally published Oct. 3, 2023, in The Daily Texan
By Madeline Dorjee
Illustration by Maya Kiselstein

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