A Simplified Guide to the Bus

You’ve seen the city buses rolling down the street. Puffing out hot exhaust, with hordes of people crowded into a small space, a sullen-looking driver tells a man to stop yelling into his phone. This can be an intimidating sight.

Story by Natalie Heineman
Illustrations by Ryan Hicks

However, the city buses are also one of the most useful things about living in Austin. They offer quick, reliable transportation nearly anywhere in the city, and the ride is free with your University of Texas student ID.

The Basics

First, and most importantly, plan your route. You should find out where to get on and where to get off. The CapMetro app is a quick and easy way to look up bus schedules on the go, and it’s available for both Apple and Samsung phones. Besides the UT Shuttles, there are two main types of buses you will encounter: MetroBus and MetroRapid. “Rapid buses, in my opinion, are the best because they tell you the station names as you approach them, which makes it easier for first time riders,” history freshman Savannah Lee says.

The difference lies in the number of stops. MetroBuses make frequent stops and are slower than MetroRapid buses, which are normally faster and a bit cleaner. When you see the bus number you need heading towards you, it never hurts to give a small wave or nod to the driver so she/he knows you need to be picked up. Before you board the bus, make sure to have your student ID out and ready to swipe. Sit anywhere you like, but know the first few seats are reserved for seniors and those with special needs if necessary.“I like is to sit near the bus driver, in case I have any questions,” human development and family sciences freshman Hadley Holland says.

When you ride the bus, be aware of everything that is going on around you. Wearing earphones is a good tactic to stop people from making conversation with you, but make sure your volume is low enough so you can hear your surroundings. Keep your belongings close and only set them on the seat next to you if no one needs to sit. Every so often, you may have to stand on the bus. If that happens, stand firmly on the ground with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold on tightly to the hand loops that hang from the ceiling.

Unless you want to ride the bus all day, you will eventually have to learn how to use the stop cord. In most buses, this appears as a long wire hanging horizontally from the windows. Other buses have a yellow plastic strip or a red button on the walls. Pull the cord or press the button when you get close to your stop and the bus driver will pull over at your selected stop. If it’s your first time taking that route, follow the bus’s path on Google Maps on your phone so you can tell when your stop is coming. When you exit the bus, thank the driver and your adventure or errand can begin.




Popular Routes



Bus 10 - Red River

Travel Time: 10 minutes

Depart: Stop #1253 across from Cypress Bend Cafe on San Jacinto and 21st

Nearby: Pei Wei, Bath & Body Works, The Coffee Bean



Bus 983 - U.S. 183 Express

Travel Time: 25 minutes

Depart: Stop #1042 West Mall on Guadalupe, near the Union

Nearby: Panera, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods



Bus 1 - Metric

Travel Time: 30 minutes

Depart: Stop #497 UT West Mall Station, near the Co-Op

Nearby: Home Depot, St. Edward’s University


The Domain

Bus 803 Rapid

Travel Time: 40 minutes

Depart: Stop #5865 UT West Mall Station, near the Union

Nearby: Forever 21, H&M, Apple Store



South Congress

Bus 801 Rapid

Travel Time: 20 minutes

Depart: Stop #497 UT West Mall Station, near the Co-Op

Nearby: Hopdoddy Burgers, Home Slice Pizza, Magnolia Cafe


Mozart’s Coffee Roasters

Bus 18

Travel Time: 15 minutes

Depart: Stop #498 on Guadalupe & 21st

Nearby: Hula Hut, Lake Austin views


Blue Cat Cafe

Bus 18 → 320

Travel Time: 30 minutes

Depart: Stop #2768 MLK/ Trinity Midblock, across from Jamail Swimming Center. Get off at MLK/Ferdinand. Walk around the corner to Stop #2892 near MLK/ Chestnut. Take bus 320 to 2nd/Comal Street

Nearby: Bufalina Pizza, Kerlin BBQ, Los Huaraches



Zilker Park + Barton Springs Pool

Bus 19 → 30

Travel Time: 15 minutes

Depart: Stop #497 UT West Mall Station, near the Co-Op. Get off Guadalupe & 8th. Take bus 30 from same stop to Barton Springs.

Nearby: Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Peter Pan Mini Golf, P. Terry Burger Stand


Mount Bonnell

Bus 22

Travel Time: 45 minutes

Depart: Stop #5024 Dean Keaton/ University near Student Services Building. Get off       Exposition/ Warren. Walk about one mile towards Covert Park at Mount Bonnell

Nearby: Colorado River, Mayfield Park


Graffiti Park

Bus 1

Travel Time: 5 minutes

Depart: Stop #497 UT West Mall Station, near the Co-Op. Exit Capitol Station. Walk 0.5 miles west towards Baylor St.

Nearby: Whole Foods flagship store, Duncan Park, shops on N. Lamar