New Braunfels explores options to improve transit service

Options could include fixed-route, microtransit and commuter buses

Census estimates show New Braunfels was the third-fastest growing city in the country over the past decade and has the growing congestion to prove it.
Census estimates show New Braunfels was the third-fastest growing city in the country over the past decade and has the growing congestion to prove it.

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Census estimates show New Braunfels was the third-fastest growing city in the country over the past decade and has the growing congestion to prove it.

The added traffic has prompted renewed discussions about the need for more transit in the area. City officials have received the results of a study from KFH Group on potential transit options and what it would take to implement them.

“It could include your standard traditional fixed route, where you have routes along certain corridors and bus stops on the schedule or looking at a microtransit type of option that is technology based, app based, and then also uses kind of the model of Uber or Lyft,” said Garry Ford, city engineer and assistant public works director for the City of New Braunfels.

The current service is operated by Alamo Regional Transit through the Alamo Area Council of Governments. It requires people to call a day ahead for a ride, and is mostly focused on seniors and medical trips, according to city officials.

The study examined the costs of varying levels of service. It found that even the most basic level of service (two fixed routes and three microtransit vehicles) would bring two or even three times the ridership for the same amount of relative spending as the current service. VIA and New Braunfels already spend more than $850,000 on transit service, according to KFH Group.

The study also explored the feasibility of adding commuter service connections to San Marcos, Austin and San Antonio. That would require coordination with other agencies and added funding. A small amount of people already use vanpools to commute to San Antonio and Austin through both the Via and Capital Metro transit agencies.

Officials are also interested in adding service to Seguin, along the State Highway 46 corridor, which is one of the fastest growing parts of the region.

“A lot of the folks from Seguin use New Braunfels for their health care, but a lot of folks from New Braunfels are working in Seguin,” said Chester Jenke, vice-president of economic development for the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce. “So we’ve got to have that corridor opened up along with our Interstate 35 corridor.”

New Braunfels officials said they will now talk with AACOG about ways to enhance transit service in the short term. Other enhancements would likely take a few years to complete.

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About the Author:

Samuel King anchors traffic during GMSA and reports on transportation and mobility issues across the San Antonio region. He joined the KSAT 12 news team in 2020 from KUT in Austin. Samuel was born in Queens, spent time growing up in South Alabama and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.