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How to get around in Austin—if you must—amid coronavirus closures: Updated

Capital Metro services are now free but more limited

Austin, Texas skyline from south Adriano Aurelio Araujo/Flickr

Note: This post is updated periodically to reflect changes in transportation options in Austin during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, a shelter in place/work safe order—under which residents are allowed to leave home only to meet basic needs or to travel to essential jobs—was issued for Austin and Travis County because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In addition, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot announced an executive order Tuesday similarly directs residents to engage in only essential services and “minimize” social gatherings and in-person contact outside the household, although he declined to call it a stay-at-home order.

Both orders still leaves a fair number of people who need to get around, along with those who want (and need) to leave the house for at least a small portion of the day. For those who are unsure of, or just anxious about, their options for getting around and minimizing risk of exposure to themselves and others to the new coronavirus, here’s what they are at present.

Remember to follow social-distancing (staying six feet away from other people) and other CDC-recommended precautions to protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19.

Walking. Not only is walking, if you’re able, one of the best ways to get around in general, it’s an especially good option now, and not difficult on Austin’s currently uncrowded streets and mild (if slightly rainy) weather. Moreover, you really need to leave the house and walk around every day if at all possible. Just remember to practice social distancing and recommended handwashing and santiizing around all surfaces you touch, including those in and around your home.

Bicycling. Another great method for getting around parts of the city, bicycling for transportation and exercise is allowed under the shelter in place/work safe order. Individuals on personal bikes should be extra vigilant about sanitizing their vehicles and observe the mandated social distancing and recommended hygiene methods.

Austin B-cycle is still operating with limited hours and stepped-up sanitation.

Public transit. Capital Metro is still up and running, albeit on abbreviated schedules for some routes, including MetroRail (which, note, is temporarily suspended and replaced by a bus with a similar route on weekends).

Capital Metro vehicles can currently be ridden free of charge to facilitate social distancing from drivers and other passengers and avoid crowding of entrances and exits.

Riders may board busses through the front or rear doors and are asked to follow advised hygiene measures.

According to its website, CapMetro is “applying a disinfectant to common hand contact areas such as poles and handrails, armrests, door handles and stop request buttons” in vehicles and transit facilities, in addition to its regular cleaning procedures.

Ride-hailing. Lyft and Uber are still operating in Austin and Travis, Hays, and Williamson counties, although the companies have suspended their ridesharing and pool services in response to COVID-19.

Locally based Ride Austin has suspended operations temporarily.

Scooters. Two dockless e-scooter and e-bike companies—Lime and Spin have paused their Austin services. As for the rest, it isn’t something we’d necessarily recommend (maybe use disposable gloves if you simply must scoot), and most of the dockless-vehicle companies in Austin recently reported that they have amped up sanitation routines for their vehicles and employees.

Personal vehicles. This is probably the option most car-owning Austinites are using (always, but especially right now). As with everything COVID-19: Follow social distancing, hand-washing, and sanitizing recommendations vigilantly.