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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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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:

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  • 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!

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1st MetroRapid vehicle rolls out into town

Cyclist tries out the new 3-bike rack

Cyclist tries out the new 3-bike rack

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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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A sneak peak at the new MetroRapid vehicle.

A sneak peak at the new MetroRapid vehicle.

It’s been said that great cities have great public transportation systems, and with the upcoming launch of MetroRapid, the booming Central Texas region will be one step closer to realizing that goal.

Capital Metro pulled back the curtain Thursday, allowing members of the media to get an up close and personal look at the new MetroRapid vehicles before they hit the streets in early 2014 (although you’ll be seeing some of the buses around town over the next few months for testing purposes).

“This is a service we’re going to be able to introduce to the community unlike any they’ve seen before in Central Texas,” Capital Metro President and CEO Linda S. Watson said. “This is such an exciting time for Capital Metro.”

Cap Metro President & CEO Linda Watson with a new MetroRapid vehicle.

Cap Metro President & CEO Linda Watson with a new MetroRapid vehicle.

(more…)

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On May 20, the Capital Metro board of directors and President/CEO Linda Watson recognized bus operators and mechanics who represented Capital Metro at the local, state and international roadeo events.

On May 20, the Capital Metro board of directors and President/CEO Linda Watson recognized bus operators and mechanics who represented Capital Metro at the local, state and international roadeo events.

Yesterday, the Capital Metro board recognized the bus operators and mechanics who competed at the local, state and national Bus Roadeo competitions this spring.

A handful of the 1,000+ bus operators and mechanics who drive and service Capital Metro buses represented Capital Metro and the State of Texas at the International Bus Roadeo on May 5, in Indianapolis, Indiana.  McDonald bus operators Arthur “Ace” Murillo and Abdelkader Tenouri placed 5th and 6th, respectively, in the 35-Foot Bus division, and Porfirio “Pistol Pete” Rivera was 21st out of 50 competitors in the 40-Foot Bus division.

McDonald maintenance team Jaime Ayala, John Proske and Gary Robledo placed 10th in the Maintenance division. They were the only team to receive a perfect score in one of the challenge events.

Bus operators Arthur Murillo, Pete Rivera and Abdel Tenouri enjoy the 2013 International Bus Roadeo in Indianapolis.

Bus operators Arthur Murillo, Pete Rivera and Abdel Tenouri enjoy the 2013 International Bus Roadeo in Indianapolis.

Murillo has won the international event four times, and Tenouri also has an international title under his belt.

Congrats to all of these very skilled competitors! And there’s one more competitor to watch this season: MetroAccess Van Operator Ted Ward will compete in the National Community Transit Roadeo on June 2.

Browse photos from the 2013 Texas State Roadeo

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Earlier today Capital Metro staff joined members of ADAPT in unveiling two newly adopted bus stops outside of the ADAPT offices, located at East 2nd and Chalmers.

ADAPT members kicked off the ribbon cutting ceremony by picking up litter in the area along Route 320. Members then officially adopted their stops with a ceremonial ribbon tearing.

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At the ceremony ADAPT Community Advocate and H.A.N.D. Board Member Nancy Crowther said, “We are excited to be representing the community because it’s very important to us, with accessible transportation. We also care about our community, that’s why we’re cleaning it up at our bus stop.”

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Capital Metro was recognized at an ABJ event in March for our employee wellness initiatives. From L to R: Wellness Program Manager Tim Kelly, Humana Market Practice Leader Tom Silliman, Capital Metro Risk Manager Mike Nyren, and Capital Metro Chief of Staff Gerardo Castillo.

Capital Metro was recognized at an ABJ event in March for our employee wellness initiatives. From L to R: Wellness Program Manager Tim Kelly, Humana Market Practice Leader Tom Silliman, Capital Metro Risk Manager Mike Nyren, and Capital Metro Chief of Staff Gerardo Castillo.

Capital Metro remains one of Central Texas’ healthiest employers. Our employee wellness initiatives were recognized in March at an event hosted by the Austin Business Journal and sponsored by Central Health, Humana, RunTex and the Mayor’s Health & Fitness Council.

You’ve heard us talk before about our award-winning wellness program. The program began in 2003 and has been successful in curbing the escalating healthcare costs all companies have faced over time. In fact, for every dollar invested in our wellness program, Capital Metro gets a return on investment of about $2.43 in healthcare savings and a reduction in employee absenteeism.

Some of the elements of the program include four 24-hour onsite wellness centers, free personal training, free nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian  onsite weight loss and tobacco-cessation classes, healthy cafeteria, and a bike loan program, just to name a few. Our Wellness team maintains a public facebook page, and it’s a great resource for healthy recipes, exercises and inspiration. Check it out.

In January, Capital Metro completed its move to becoming 100% tobacco free. Also new: Capital Metro now extends its nutrition counseling and workout classes to employees’ household members, too.

If all of this sounds great to you, perhaps you’d like to join the Capital Metro team? Check out our job board for administrative jobs at Capital Metro. If you’re interested in working for one of our service providers as a bus operator or mechanic, Check out the “Jobs with our Contractors” section on the Contact Us webpage.

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Girl Scout Day celebrates the day the first Girl Scout group was created on March 12, 1912, when Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia for a local meeting. Today, Girl Scouts of the USA has a membership of over 3.2 million girls and adults.

We are especially proud of our local scouts’ role in history. Did you know the Girl Scouts of Central Texas and Capital Metro created the Girl Scouts first-ever Rail Safety Patch Program?

ImageTake a lead from the Girl Scouts and educate yourself about how to be safe around railroad tracks. Check out:

Capital Metro conducts Operation Lifesaver (OL) presentations FREE OF CHARGE to schools, community and educational organizations in the Central Texas region. To schedule a presentation, please contact Mr Celso Baez at 512-389-7559.

Have a safe and happy Girl Scout Day and Women’s History Month.

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SXSW is in full swing. Capital Metro has added service on several bus routes and MetroRail, too, to help people get around. Here’s what you need to know:

First, bookmark http://www.capmetro.org/sxsw2013.  Maps, detours, schedules, etc.–it’s all there.

If you like printed-out stuff, here’s a handy downtown transit map showing detours through downtown and the special rail schedules.

Detours

Lots of streets are closed. Take a look at the city’s handy interactive map showing street closures. Most  of Capital Metro’s local bus service is detouring through downtown. Most routes will be detoured off of Congress Ave and available at 8 key stops on Guadalupe and Lavaca. Check out this map:
sxsw-superstops

Because many bus routes are detoured away from Congress Ave., about 50 bus stops are closed. Look for the bright pink T-shirts covering the bus stop poles. There are signs at each closed bus stop, too, that will tell you where the nearest open bus stop is for your route.

The eight “super” stops on Lavaca/Guadalupe are marked with a bright green flag that says “Open Stop.”

Getting Schedule Info on the Go

Hey check it out, every bus stop has a unique stop ID. With a cell phone and this ID number, you can get specific next scheduled bus info for that stop.

MetroRail Schedules

MetroRail has expanded hours today and next Saturday, 10 a.m. through midnight. During the week next week, MetroRail daytime frequency will nearly double. Expect a train every 34 minutes, all day.

Full Trains? Full Buses?

As we move into the music portion of SXSW, trains and buses will likely be full. Have a backup plan if you encounter a full bus or train. Signs on each train station will point you to nearby bus service.

Riding with a bike? When trains are full, bikes are limited to 4 per compartment (8 total per train). All Capital Metro buses have a bike rack that holds 2 bikes each.

Late Night Riding

If you’re staying out past midnight, our late night bus service may be just the ticket. Six nights a week, catch a Night Owl to/from 6th and Congress and neighborhoods throughout town, from midnight through 3 a.m. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, you can also ride one of three E-bus routes, which begin service at 8:30 p.m. and run until about 3 a.m. Get late night travel details here.

THERE IS NO LATE NIGHT SERVICE ON SUNDAYS! You’ll need to make other arrangements on Sunday nights, folks.

Here’s a tip for evening riders: use your cell phone to help flag the bus down. A coworker told me about this tip, which works great especially if it’s not well lit at your bus stop, or you are wearing dark colored clothing. Turn your cell phone on and use that to signal the approaching bus.

Additional Resources

City of Austin City Stage 

Austin Chronicle SXSW Travel Tips

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We’ve crunched all the numbers for 2012, and here’s the bottom line: Capital Metro knocked it out of the park in 2012.

During 2012, we provided an average 112,000 rides each weekday—enough passengers to completely fill both the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and Disch-Falk Field combined.

The proof that central Texans are choosing Capital Metro as a preferred way to get around lies in our numbers–in 2012 we provided over 34 million boardings–more trips than the population of Texas!

Across the nation, more people are turning to public transit as the preferred transportation choice, but Capital Metro’s growth rate far exceeds the national trend. Here at home, our fixed-route bus ridership is boasting a 22-month growth streak, and MetroRail ridership has tripled in two years.

See the growth in our bus ridership for yourself–2011 compared to 2012 below:

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2012 was a big year for MetroRail too! We’ve got more people riding the rails every single day with an average 2,200 boardings each weekend.

In 2012, MetroRail hit a milestone of its one millionth passenger trip, and ridership increased nearly 50 percent in 2012 over 2011.

Rail’s popular! See the ridership spike:

PR1

Capital Metro made progress in 2012 by analyzing service and making changes towards creating a more efficient system.

Going into 2013, we’re excited to keep  driving progress by working hard at planning for the region’s future with high-capacity transit solutions, like MetroRapid, that will move more people at less cost and with less impact to the environment.

We are also focused on the regional planning effort, Project Connect, that has developed a high-capacity transit vision to keep all of us in Central Texas moving and connected.

How are we driving progress? Check out this super sweet video that breaks it down:

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We want to thank the Austin Police Department for giving back to the community, and providing an opportunity for us to give as well. Capital Metro staff participated last week in two holiday community events sponsored by APD that are near and dear to our hearts:  Amigos en Azul “Shop with a Cop” and Operation Blue Santa.

ImageFor the past ten years, Capital Metro has played a supporting role to the Amigos en Azul “Shop with a Cop”, which provides students from two local elementary schools a $50 shopping spree at Target, and a friendly outing with our local police officers.

Capital Metro provided two buses to carry the police officers and kids over to Target for the shopping spree. Capital Metro Security Manager and retired APD Sergeant John Jones was at the helm of one of the buses, and a police officer drove the other.

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Capital Metro volunteers helped Operation Blue Santa make the holidays brighter for 25 families.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, 18 employee volunteers and family members from Capital Metro, McDonald Transit and MV Transportation helped make deliveries to 25 families for Operation Blue Santa. The deliveries were made in a MetroAccess van, complete with Santa! Capital Metro employees have been involved with Operation Blue Santa for many years as a very rewarding way to give back to the community and to get their children involved, too.  McDonald Transit Senior Trainer Toni Jackson organizes our volunteers each year.

Check out all the photos from these two events on our facebook page. Season’s greetings from Capital Metro!

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