The Texas State University Bobcat Tram Interurban (BTI) service will cease operation on Aug. 26 of this year, university officials said Thursday.
“In order to best utilize the student bus fee and serve the largest number of passengers possible, Transportation Services will refocus all available resources on the student, faculty and staff transit needs in San Marcos,” a news release from the university said.
Though the regular shuttle service will continue, the Texas State will no longer operate the BTI service to Kyle/Austin and New Braunfels/San Antonio.
Transportation Services officials said the university “will implement a more vibrant carpooling system to provide an alternative means of accessing the campus.”
Eliminating the BTI Service will allow Texas State to reassign some of the buses, they said.
“We will be implementing a ‘point to point’ bus service, at no additional charge, from the campus directly to the Mill Street perimeter lot (AZ-12) with no other stops beginning Aug. 28,” the news release continued. ”Vehicles with perimeter parking permits may park in the Mill Street lot. Bus service on other routes will also be evaluated and adjusted accordingly,” it said.
In November the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, at the request of Texas State University, conducted a comprehensive and objective review of the transit service provided by Texas State including the San Marcos service and the BTI service. The review included a cost/benefit analysis and risk assessment of the current services.
Findings of the review indicated that questions concerning cost, reliability, timeliness, safety and value played major roles in the decision to halt the BTI service and focus more on student transportation needs in San Marcos.
• In order for students to get to class on time, the service needs to be reliable. In the survey of the BTI passengers, 45 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed that BTI routes operate on time.
• Annualized ridership on the entire Bobcat Tram system is 3,482,998 passenger trips while the BTI Service represents 143,393 passenger trips, or 4.1 percent of that total.
• Based on responses to the passenger survey, 48 percent indicated they would drive to campus if the BTI service was not available and another 18 percent would ride with someone else.
• The average cost paid by the student bus fee for shuttle routes in San Marcos is $1.35 per passenger trip; the average cost paid by the student bus fee for BTI routes is $3.12 per passenger trip. Money from ticket and cash sales from those using the service only accounts for 46 percent% of the cost of the BTI service and the remainder is paid from the student bus fee.
• Only 24 percent of BTI passengers rate the fare as an excellent or good value, suggesting there is limited opportunity to raise fares as a way to recover more of the cost.
• Stakeholders said that the BTI service should not be the priority of the university transportation system, and that inter-city services should be the job of Capital Metro, CARTS, VIA, or some other provider.
• The report also recognized that when service incidents and accidents do occur on the BTI routes in Austin or San Antonio, there are not enough resources to respond and respond quickly. These factors all contribute to significant risk.