‘Traffic Jam! A La Mode’ Serves Up a Project Connect Transit Mode Talk

Picture1In the spring, the Project Connect team surveyed people about where they wanted to see future high-capacity transit services. Now the team is engaging the community in the second phase of the planning initiative — examining which types of high-capacity transit would best fit each location. Continue reading “‘Traffic Jam! A La Mode’ Serves Up a Project Connect Transit Mode Talk”

Connections 2025: Routes 383 & 392 Update

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Long-term planning can be tricky, because it requires balancing the needs of multiple constituencies that change and evolve over time. This isn’t the case just in transit of course, but it’s something we run into all the time. The most recent example is our Connections 2025 Transit Plan, which has seen changes to some of the proposals that were included in the approved plan. That’s common with bus network redesigns.

We wanted to share with the community one of these changes, since we’ve heard concerns regarding the potential elimination of service on Route 392 north of Braker in Northeast Austin.

What was the original proposal? The approved Connections 2025 plan proposed combining Routes 383 and 392 into an east-west route operating from Lakeline Mall along Jollyville Rd. and Braker Ln. to Dessau Rd. Buses were proposed to operate every 30 minutes instead of every 35 – 40 minutes. Route 383 would no longer serve the North Lamar Transit Center, and the area north of Braker served by Route 392 would be modified into a Mobility Innovation Zone.

What is a Mobility Innovation Zone? Mobility Innovation Zones are areas where Capital Metro wants to look into mobility options other than a 40-foot bus by using various pilot projects.  That’s because the land use and road network in these parts of town make it very difficult to provide cost-effective service with a big bus. The pilot projects would likely leverage emerging technology and transportation options, whether that’s an on-demand service like Pickup , flex routes, partnerships with TNCs or something else, we’re not sure. Because these technologies and tools are emerging, we’re still exploring how the pilots would function. Staff will be taking the next 12 months to develop the pilot projects with community input before requesting board approval. When approving Connections 2025, the board instructed staff that fixed-route service north of Dessau must be retained until the Mobility Innovation Zone pilot projects have been developed.

How has the proposal been modified? In keeping with the board’s directive to maintain fixed-route service, the proposed Route 383 would travel from Lakeline Station along Jollyville Rd. and Braker Ln. When the bus reaches Dessau, it will travel along Dessau, Shropshire, Thompkins, Yeager and Parmer before ending at the Tech Ridge Park & Ride. This proposed service would operate every 30 minutes and remain in place until a Mobility Innovation Zone pilot project is ready for implementation sometime in 2019.

What’s next?  As with any Connections 2025 proposal, this modification will require public outreach and board approval before it can be implemented. We will seek public comment this fall and ask board of directors to vote on the changes toward the end of the year. Changes would be implemented in June 2018. More information about all the upcoming changes and ways to provide feedback will be available shortly after Labor Day.

Connections 2025: Get Ready for Big Changes

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Capital Metro is super excited to announce that the first significant changes coming out of Connections 2025 are scheduled to go into effect in June 2018. These proposed changes will go before our board for approval on November 15, but only after going through an extensive public input process.

The changes would affect almost every route in our system. In fact, more than half of our current 82 routes will see some level of change, with just 38 remaining the same after June 2018. The great news is that these changes will make for a more tightly integrated bus system that has more frequent service. It’s true that 14 current routes are proposed to be eliminated, but most riders of these routes will see comparable and likely even better service replace their current route.

Also, fixed-route service along low-ridership segments of Dessau, Steck and Mesa, Walsh Tarlton and Convict Hill will not be eliminated in this round of changes. These segments will transition to Mobility Innovation Zone pilot projects in 2019 after further study, public input and board approval.

We know that many of y’all are excited for the improvements that will come with the expanded High-Frequency Route Network. Those routes will provide service at least every 15 minutes seven days a week to 80 percent of our riders. So you may wonder why we don’t do this even sooner than next June. We made this decision for many reasons:

  • We need time to build new bus stops and sidewalks connections.
  • We also need to work with the city to incorporate transit priority treatments to traffic signals, allowing our buses to move more quickly and efficiently through the congestion.
  • Making changes in June minimizes disruptions to student commutes.
  • There are simply fewer vehicles on the roads in June. This will allow us to start the revised service in a “quieter” time and make any necessary tweaks in August, when the city’s business picks back up.

prm-161207-service-change-infographic-update_v22We do have some Connections 2025 changes coming sooner, though. MetroRapid Routes 801 and 803 will increase their frequencies in August, with weekday frequency increasing to every 10 minutes and weekend frequency to every 15 minutes. The service will operate until 2:30 a.m. on weekends … the first step toward 24/7 MetroRapid service!

We know the next question you’ll have is, “Which routes will be proposed to change?” We’re working on finalizing that list now and will produce a brochure to explain all the changes. We should be ready to present our proposal shortly after Labor Day, so look for the brochures on buses and Connections2025.org in mid-September. And, just like we always do with our service change process, we’ll also offer several opportunities for you to provide feedback on the proposed changes, including at public meetings the week of September 25. In addition to those formal meetings, our team will go to bus stops, back-to-school events, festivals and neighborhood meetings. Please check our online calendar in August for dates, times and locations.

For more information on the transit plan, please visit Connections2025.org. Questions may be directed to 512-369-6000 or feedback@connections2025.org.

 

Cap Metro Breaks Ground on Plaza Saltillo

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Capital Metro President/CEO Linda Watson with Board and Council Member Pio Renteria

This was a big week for Capital Metro, a week decades in the making. With our partners Endeavor Real Estate and Columbus Realty alongside members of the community, we celebrated the groundbreaking of the Plaza Saltillo District on Wednesday.

Braving the warm, muggy weather, a couple hundred people joined us at Plaza Saltillo, right next to our MetroRail station and directly adjacent to a 10-acre tract of land that’s laid empty since the mid-1990s.

It won’t be empty for much longer, though. When construction is through, the development will feature 800 residential apartment units (almost 20 percent of which will be reserved as affordable housing), more than 110,000 square feet of retail space, 140,000 square feet of office space, an acre-and-a-half of open space with public art and access to a range of transportation options. In addition to our own MetroRail and MetroBus services, the Plaza Saltillo District will be located right along an extended Lance Armstrong Bikeway and two historical walking paths (the Tejano Music Legends Trail and the Tejano Healthy Walking Trail); it will also have access to Austin B-cycle stations and Car2Go vehicles.

Rather than your typical event with a big pile of imported dirt and shiny new shovels, the Plaza Saltillo groundbreaking featured a flag-planting ceremony. Representatives of Capital Metro, the city of Austin, Endeavor Real Estate and the neighboring community staked flags symbolizing the three organizing partners: Cap Metro, Endeavor and the city. We included the Texas state flag too.

Cap Metro President/CEO Linda Watson spoke enthusiastically about the trajectory of the project, and the agency’s efforts to guide the development in a way that served the needs of Capital Metro, as well as the neighborhood and the entire region.

Pio Renteria is a member of both our board of directors and the Austin City Council, representing East Austin. He and East Side resident Johnny Limon talked with passion about the history and the people of East Austin. In his dual roles, Renteria was instrumental in getting the project through the final steps of the approval process. Limon, too, worked for years leading a community group dedicated to finding a solution for the abandoned railyard that will be home to the development.

In addition to the flags and the great speeches, the crowd was able to enjoy tamales and agua frescas from the Tamale House (located just down the street from the station), conjunto music by Los Pinkys and paletas from Mom and Pops Frozen Pops.

Remediation work on the former brownfield site has already started and construction of the underground parking structure will begin shortly. In all, the project is expected to take about 30 months.

Wednesday was a fun way to acknowledge the road we’ve taken so far and to look to the days ahead when the development be finished. Once done, the resulting Plaza Saltillo District will be a great addition to Austin and Central Texas.

Cap Metro Brings Ride-Hailing to Public Transit

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Photo of Pickup vehicle by Brandon Guidry

Wanna bring the kids to the Thinkery, the St. John Library Branch or Bartholomew Pool? (They’ve got great water slides.) Capital Metro’s got a new service that’ll help you out with that.

This week, we launched a free ride-hailing bus service called Pickup that allows riders to arrange on-demand transit trips within the Mueller, Windsor Park and Coronado Hills neighborhoods or to Capital Plaza using a mobile app. (Not to mention, Wal-Mart, Reagan High School, and a bunch of other great places.) Because this is a pilot program, we’re only operating in a small section of the city for the timebeing. The service zone ranges from the intersection of Manor Rd. and Airport Blvd. to the I-35 access road north of Rutherford Ln.

Continue reading “Cap Metro Brings Ride-Hailing to Public Transit”

Bridge work to affect MetroRail service

LEANDER STATIONTrain service will be affected in June when Capital Metro makes scheduled upgrades to the MetroRail Red Line on a bridge between Lakeline and Leander Stations. But don’t worry, Leanderites — Leandereans? Leanderthals? Leanderers? Leandermenandwomen? — we’ve got you covered whatever y’all call yourselves.

The last morning departure from Leander to Downtown Station and the first afternoon train from downtown to Leander will not run between Monday, June 5 and Friday, June 30. Capital Metro will instead provide bus service between Lakeline and Leander Stations for those affected by the stoppage.

Continue reading “Bridge work to affect MetroRail service”

Mapping the Future

TOD_BannerGrowth happens. You can’t change that. What we need to do is to manage how Central Texas grows, direct where that growth takes place and ensure that everyone benefits from our growing region.

The city of Austin is attempting to do just that with CodeNext, its rewrite of the city’s development code. It’s a massive undertaking and you’ve probably read much about it since the draft version was released in January and maps were put out last month showing how the proposed code would affect different parts of the city.

Continue reading “Mapping the Future”