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June2014-Proposed-Service-Change-Web-BannerBy Celso Baez, Community Involvement Specialist

We’ve recently heard some feedback from our riders about our proposal to move MetroBus routes currently operating on Congress Avenue onto the Guadalupe/Lavaca corridor. Most of us have experienced congestion on Congress Avenue, whether on a bus or in a private automobile. Sometimes it’s faster to walk to get through downtown due to all the traffic, especially during a special event.

Why are we considering route changes on Congress?

Congress Avenue has several challenges that hamper safety, bus operations, and the comfort of our customers. Our goals for improving downtown service are based on Service Plan 2020, our long range plan for improving service.

Angled Parking

Angled parking and chronic congestion along the Congress Avenue corridor make it challenging for our vehicles to operate safely. Safety is our number one priority at Capital Metro, and moving most MetroBus routes off of Congress Avenue and onto Guadalupe and Lavaca streets would make service safer for our customers by reducing collisions with private automobiles.

june-atstopFrequent Stops

Many of our customers have experienced the high number of stops on Congress that make it difficult for our vehicles to pass—leading to a wall of buses slowly moving down the street. By moving all remaining routes, except Route 100 MetroAirport Flyer, from Congress Avenue, Colorado and Brazos streets onto the Guadalupe and Lavaca corridor, local service will be able to move through downtown Austin several minutes faster, utilizing the transit priority lanes. In addition, transfers would be made easier while improving connections with MetroRapid and MetroRail.

Ridership

Approximately 13,000 bus passengers travel to downtown Austin on a daily basis. About 80 percent of those passengers transfer to another route. Downtown Austin is the final destination for the remaining 3,200 daily passengers (20 percent), with about half of those coming from commuter or flyer routes. A large number of commuter and flyer route customers walk from Guadalupe Street / Lavaca Street to Congress Avenue. A large number of routes through downtown Austin are “through-routed”, i.e. they do not terminate in downtown but continue from one end of downtown to another. Approximately 3,600 daily passengers travel through downtown on a through-routed bus. Moving most MetroBus routes onto the Guadalupe/Lavaca corridors would make the majority of downtown trips easier for our customers. We realize that for some, walks would be made longer; however Capital Metro has tried mitigating the impact by realigning routes 7, 20, and 17 to better accommodate our riders. With projects like Austin B-cycle, which provides a network of 24 hour/day, on demand bicycle stations to the urban core and the City of Austin’s Great Streets initiative which aims at improving the quality of downtown streets and sidewalks, walks to Congress Avenue from Guadalupe and Lavaca streets and vice versa are much more pleasant.

Special Event Detours

We all know how congested Congress Avenue becomes during a special event. Special event detours significantly disrupt transit service for our customers who rely on our system to get to work, school, and other priority destinations. Operating all local routes on the G/L corridor would reduce special events detours; alleviate congestion on Congress Avenue, thereby making service more efficient. This was evidenced by how successful service operated during SXSW and Formula One, when Capital Metro moved most MetroBus routes on the G/L corridor.

Stop Amenities

Historic and landmark preservation measures on the Congress Avenue corridor prevent Capital Metro from enhancing our existing bus stops. While the sidewalk is wide, there are no additional passenger amenities we are capable of providing. Moving most MetroBus routes onto G/L would allow us to add amenities such as benches and shelters otherwise not possible on Congress Avenue, providing a better customer experience for our riders.

forumHow to Share Your Feedback

Please keep giving us your feedback and commenting on our proposals—we want to hear from you! All riders are encouraged to participate in our public involvement opportunities listed below. Capital Metro will conduct a series of public meetings, and a public hearing. See our service change webpage for schedule details. Become involved, join the conversation and comment on specific proposals in efforts to provide effective services that meet the Austin area’s transportation needs!

View the recent webinar:

Share your comments and send any questions to feedback@capmetro.org.

Upcoming Public Involvement Dates:

Public Meetings

March 4, 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.

Capital Metro Transit Store, 209 W. 9th | Served by all downtown Local bus routes, MetroRapid 801

March 5, 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.

Capital Metro Transit Store, 209 W. 9th | Served by all downtown Local bus routes, MetroRapid 801

March 6, 3:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Capital Metro Transit Store, 209 W. 9th | Served by all downtown Local bus routes, MetroRapid 801

Online Discussion Forum

ideas.capmetro.org

Email

Feedback@capmetro.org

Social Media 

Facebook | Twitter

Public Hearing

March 17, 12:00 noon

Capital Metro Headquarters, 2910 E. 5th St. | Served by Local routes 17, 300

For more information on the proposed summer 2014 changes, including maps of the proposed areas, visit capmetro.org/summer2014. Details can also be found by viewing this video or by calling the GO Line at 512-474-1200.

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austinmarathonDue to the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, Feb. 16, Capital Metro will detour several Local bus routes and MetroRapid service within the race area on Feb. 15 and Feb. 16.

Pre-event detours will begin Feb. 15 as race organizers make preparations for the following day. The following routes will be detoured from start of service into race day: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 17, 19, 30, 37, 411, 412, 481, 483, 484 and 485.

On Feb. 16, all routes entering downtown will be impacted, including MetroRapid Route 801. Detours will be in place from start of service until approximately 6 p.m.

The following routes will be affected: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 30, 37, 100, 228, 320, 323, 325, 331, 801 and UT Shuttles. Customers will have two main transfer points at Red River/12th and Burnet/Ashdale.

0122_BrioPhotographyDuring the event, 20 MetroRapid stations will be closed in both northbound and southbound directions. Riders will see special “station closed” messages on the digital signage of any affected stations, including:

  • Triangle Station (SB/NB)
  • Hyde Park Station (SB/NB)
  • UT/Dean Keeton Station (SB/NB)
  • UT/West Mall Station (SB/NB)
  • Museum Station (SB/NB)
  • Capitol Station (SB/NB)
  • Wooldridge Square SB Station (SB/NB)
  • Republic Square Station (SB/NB)
  • Auditorium Shores Station
  • SoCo Station (SB)
  • Oltorf Station (SB)
  • St. Edwards Station (SB)

To view specific detour information, visit capmeto.org “Service Alerts” or call the GO Line at 512-474-1200 (staffed Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-8 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) with 24-hour access to the automated phone line.

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Today marked the first day of the new MetroRapid service!

Vehicles started rolling out into service early this morning and we have over 200 employee volunteers at stations and onboard this week helping you navigate the new service.

MetroRapid’s new amenities:

DSC_0015

  • Frequent service
  • Fewer stops
  • New vehicles
  • Wi-Fi
  • Mobile app
  • Traffic priority lanes
  • Unique stations
  • 3-position bike rack
  • Traffic signal priority technology

As you prepare for tomorrow’s workday/school day commute, make sure you’re up-to-date on all the recent changes, effective today at Capital Metro:

- New MetroRapid service, Route 801

- New fare system

- Changes to some bus routes

- New mobile app

Check out some of today’s MetroRapid Day #1 action!

1st

1st MetroRapid vehicle rolls out into town

Cyclist tries out the new 3-bike rack

Cyclist tries out the new 3-bike rack

20140126_131551

One of the 200 volunteers out at MetroRapid stations this week

One of the 200 volunteers out at MetroRapid stations this week

Thank you for riding Capital Metro!

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Shakespeare wrote:

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

Haul Pass logo

The summer, the Haul Pass, a new fare card for youth 18 and under, gives teens (and kids) unlimited bus and rail rides all summer long, plus discounts at Go Local partner businesses.

Austin is the stage. The Haul Pass is your ticket. What role will you play?

  • The Professional
    • Heads to a summer job, an internship, or volunteer work.
    • Checks the trip planner on the computer the night before work to plan the day. Always arrives 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.
    • Scans the QR code on the bus stop or texts the cross-streets or Stop ID to Dadnab (512-981-6221) to find out the next departure time
    • Keeps on budget, uses GoLocal discounts for food and well earned entertainment after a hard day at work.
  • The Scholar
  • systemmapcoverThe Explorer
  • The Artist
  • Community Organizer
    • Stays connected. #textingwhileriding
    • Searches newspapers and blogs for calendar listings of guest speakers and author talks and uses the trip planner to figure out how to get from spot to spot.
    • Keeps up with Project Connect (regional partnership exploring high-capacity transit options in Central Texas)
    • Gets friends to carpool to a Park and Ride, then journey together via Capital Metro to Barton Springs, parks and recreation centers, the mall, the movies, etc.
    • Supports local businesses, checking Go Local for businesses near destinations.
    • Convinces a parent into to try riding transit to work for a day, and consider joining a vanpool for commute. Or takes a family outing using the bus or train, like a ride across town for lunch with a grandparent, aunt or uncle.
  • The Athlete
    • An expert on loading a bike onto onboard bikeracks on MetroBus or MetroRailKnows how to do on the spot repairs after having built 2 bikes from scratch for free at Yellow Bike Project.
    • Crosstrains throughout the summer hiking, biking, swimming, boating, jogging and mixing it up with a little frisbee and hula hooping for kicks.
    • Walks to a bus stop or rail station to get that pedometer walking mileage in. 
    • Find lots of businesses on Go Local offering discounts for fitness and wellness, like yoga classes and rock climbing.
    • Explores Town Lake, Zilker Park, Pease Park, the YMCA, Austin Parks and Recreation, and more.
    • Uses the trip planner to figure out the best routes to get to practices, games, and the gym on time.
  • The Environmentalist.

The great thing about being a teen is you can be all these things. No need to permanently decide which route to take. And with unlimited bus and rail trips, you don’t have to.

So where will your Haul Pass take you this summer?

Tweet your adventures #haulpass

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Capital Metro has partnered with other transit agencies in the central Texas region, like the City of Austin, CAMPO and the Lone Star Rail District to create a plan for regional high-capacity transit.

What would that look like?

Imagine a series of components like urban rail, commuter rail (like MetroRail), Rapid service, and express lanes where all services support one another in a network, easing access throughout the region.

Sounds nice, right? Well, it looks even better. Check out this detailed vision map with all the system elements to help you share our vision for how to create a connected central Texas.

vision_map

(Download PDF version)

Now, you too can view the full details of the Project Connect transportation plan and partnership at ConnectCentralTexas.com.

But, wait there’s more!

Well, now that the vision has come together, the partners want your feedback. What do you think?

It’s your chance to share your thoughts at any of the following opportunities:

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 5 – 8 p.m. Seton Medical Center Hays (Cafeteria), 6001 Kyle Parkway, Kyle, TX.

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Austin Energy (Assembly Room); 721 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX.

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 5 – 8 p.m. Williamson Conference Center, 209 N. IH-35 Frontage Road, Round Rock, TX.

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 12 – 1 p.m. Webinar – Register online at ConnectCentralTexas.com/get-involved.

The Project Connect partners also invite the public to participate in an ongoing online discussion regarding the regional transit vision.

Reasonable modifications and equal access to communications are provided upon request.  Please call 512-369-6201 or email info@ConnectCentralTexas.com for more information.

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Tweet, Tweet!

For those of you who follow our Twitter activity (or may want to), you may have noticed our recent change of account names.

In the past, we have communicated to followers using two separate Twitter accounts: CapMetroNews and CapMetroRail. Having two accounts made sense leading up to the opening of MetroRail, but now it’s just sort of confusing. People tweet us with rail-related inquiries at CapMetroNews and with bus issues at CapMetroRail. Plus, having two accounts sometimes contributes to a delay in us responding.

Going into our new fiscal year in October 1, we wanted to use that date as a benchmark for turning over a new leaf in our Communications efforts — including Twitter.

Going into the future, we have changed the name of our CapMetroRail account to @CapMetroATX. This will be our one and only account where we’ll provide bus and rail service updates as well as relevant news and rider tips. Over the next two weeks we’ll phase-out our CapMetroNews account.

We know by following one sole account, you may get more info than before. So, how can you filter the info you get notifications about, if you want?

By using certain apps, you can make settings to only get notified of certain hashtags, versus receiving all our Tweets.

We’ll be operating via these hashtags:

#MetroRailAlert: for specific delay alerts on MetroRail

#MetroBusAlert: for all bus-related service alerts

So, for example, if you began following our rail account and only wish to continue receiving rail-related messages, set-up your account to send only messages including the #MetroRailAlert hashtag.

How to set specific alerts up? This useful YouTube video helps you use TweetDeck for setting-up hashtag notifications:

If you’re not into Tweet Deck, there’s also Boxcar for push notifications as well.

This change may take some getting used to, but it’s for the better — to provide improved communications and customer service. So, jump right it, follow us at www.twitter.com/CapMetroATX.

Tweet you soon!

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We need your input!

Capital Metro is proposing changes on several routes in accordance with our Service Guidelines & Standards. These changes are being proposed to improve transit access, efficiency and reliability. These proposals will go before the Capital Metro Board of Directors on September 24, 2012. If approved, these changes would take effect Sunday, January 13, 2013.

Capital Metro is making several changes to routes in South Austin, Northeast Austin, and Northcross areas. Visit our website now for a complete list and maps of the proposed January 2013 service changes and details about how to give us your feedback. The proposed route realignments, extensions and adjustments would improve efficiency, service coverage and increase ridership without an increase in cost.

We want to hear from you! All riders are encouraged to join public involvement opportunities listed below and provide your feedback. Capital Metro will conduct a series of public meetings, a webinar and public hearing. See our service change webpage for schedule details. Become involved, join the conversation and comment on specific proposals in efforts to provide effective services that meet the Austin area’s transportation needs!

Upcoming Public Involvement Dates:

Sept. 4, 2012, 12:00 – 2 p.m.
Capital Metro Transit Store, 323 Congress Ave.
Served by downtown routes

Sept. 4, 2012, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
North Village Branch Library
2505 Steck Ave
Served by routes 3, 325

 Sept. 5, 2012, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

University Hills Branch Library, 4721 Loyola Ln.

Served by routes 20, 37, 323

Sept. 5, 2012, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
ACC South Austin Campus, 1820 W. Stassney Ln.
Served by routes 3, 311

Webinar

Sept. 7, 2012, 12:00 p.m.
Sign-up today

If you require captioning to participate in this event, please select the link below. You may need to resize the window to view both the caption and the presentation simultaneously.

Link to webinar caption service

Public Hearing with the Capital Metro Board

 Sept. 17, 2012, 5:00 p.m.

Capital Metro Headquarters, 2910 E. 5th Street
Served by routes 17, 300

For opportunities to continue providing input to our system, please visit capmetro.icanmakeitbetter.com, email feedback@capmetro.org, or call 512-474-1200.

Thank you for riding Capital Metro!

–Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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“You can’t expect to meet the challenges of today with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow.” 

That famous (but unattributed) quote is what I thought of when our MetroAccess staff gave a progress report to our operations and planning committee this month.

We have been systematically reinventing the service over the past two years, and the progress report showed dramatic improvements in terms of cost savings, consistency and quality of service. The biggest indicator is the improvement in our customer service metrics, which have been mostly exemplary for the past few months.

There’s one major change on the horizon, a new eligibility process, which will be implemented in November of this year. Here’s a video preview of that change:

I’ll go through all the changes and the compelling results in a moment, but first, a quick refresher on the service itself. MetroAccess is an on-demand, shared-ride, door-to-door service for people with disabilities who are unable to ride the fixed-route bus system. In the industry it’s called “paratransit” because it is a parallel service to the bus system.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires paratransit within ¾ of a mile of regular local bus routes. It’s also important to note that the existence of a disability does not qualify someone for this service. It’s how a disability affects your ability to use the fixed route bus system that determines eligibility.

Here’s a look at the changes and progress: (more…)

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Show me the way

Have you seen Capital Metro’s award-winning visitor’s map?  Here’s an electronic version. But to get the full experience, you can swing by the Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (ACVB) to get your very own hard copy free of charge. We just found out this week that the American Public Transportation Association awarded our map first prize in the coveted AdWheel competition.

The AdWheel Awards recognize outstanding work in transit marketing and communications. The award demonstrates that we’re doing our part to help make sure that out-of-towners have a positive experience as they travel in our city.

“The Capital Metro visitor map is a great tool to help visitors navigate the downtown area – especially for visitors traveling by foot,” said ACVB Director of Retail and Visitor Services Cheri Winterrowd. “The map features comprehensive points of interest, is easy to read – and the downtown hotels have said it’s a great tool for them as well.”

This award is also a great honor for my hip colleagues down the hall who work so hard to provide the maps, schedules and other materials that make riding Capital Metro a breeze.

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We’d like to share a wonderful email we received from a customer thanking MetroRail Field Supervisor William Brown and MetroBus Operator Vincent Moore, two of our everyday heroes who keep our systems running for you. (By the way, if you’re a regular MetroBlog reader then you may have seen Vincent in action before. Remember this video?)

Dear Capital Metro,

We are writing to tell you how much we appreciate the kind actions of two of your employees last week while were in Austin for the Texas Library Conference, April 12-15.

After our meetings at the conference center on Wednesday, the 13th, we decided to ride the MetroRail from the Hilton on 4th Street to the end, and then back to the hotel. You guessed it; there was no return ride, since that was the last trip out for the evening. Three lady librarians, stranded at the end of the line, and did not know how to get back. (You would think since we are librarians, we would have researched this a little better, wouldn’t you?) Even our fellow passengers assured us there would be a return train, were very friendly, and suggested other activities for our time in Austin.

(more…)

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