Thanks a Billion!

MetroRailReturns_11x17It turns out you can get a lot accomplished in 35 years! Capital Metro celebrates our 35th anniversary this year, but even before we hit that mark, we’ve reached another milestone: 1 billion rides! 

This month, one of our customers got on board the bus and took what was CapMetro’s 1 billionth trip since our formation in 1985. A lot has changed since then. To begin with, when CapMetro launched, we received about 225 buses from from the city of Austin. Today, there are more than 540 of our vehicles out on the streets and rails. And CapMetro provided about 7.75 million rides in our first full year and more than 31 million in 2019. 

Ridership has been on the rise for the past year and a half, which is important for a lot of reasons, but its relationship to transit’s climate benefits will only increase in relevance as we move forward. By taking transit, our 1 billion customers have avoided adding the more than 445,000 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that otherwise would’ve resulted if they’d driven alone in their cars. That’s important, but our buses are going to be on the roads no matter what. So, each additional rider who gets on a bus or train adds to CapMetro’s contribution to the battle against climate change. And, when Project Connect’s vision of an entire fleet of zero-emissions vehicles becomes a reality, that will increase exponentially. 

So, Central Texas … thanks a billion!

Creative Action: Change Through Art in Austin Schools

Creative-Action_Art

Somewhere out there in the whole wide world you may wish there were an organization doing after-school, in-school, and community-based programs that teach the arts, build community and help kids develop socially and emotionally.

You’re in luck.

There are organizations doing important work like that in schools. Here in Austin, one that’s doing great work is Creative Action.

Capital Metro has partnered with AISD’s Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media & Performing Arts Institute and Creative Action to ask students to create environmentally focused art to adorn Austin’s first pair of zero-emissions electric buses. We spoke with Christa Berry, Creative Action’s Chief Marketing & Development Officer, to learn what Creative Action does and how the Electric Bus Artwork Contest came to be.

What is the role of Creative Action in the Austin Community?

Every Creative Action program uses arts learning to help young people become creative artists, critical thinkers, courageous allies and confident leaders so they may contribute to and live in a more equitable world.

Creative Action is the largest arts education organization in Central Texas, leading the way for the innovative application of the arts to support positive youth development.

We deliver more than 800 weekly programming hours in six urban, suburban and rural area school districts, reaching more than 20,000 youth annually and the adults who care for them.

Since our founding in 1997, we have reached 200,000+ youth and adults; delivered 250,000+ hours of arts enrichment programming; employed 600+ teens to produce original art; held 1,000+ performances; and employed 800+ local artists.

How did this partnership between you and CapMetro come about?

CapMetro is a long-time supporter of Creative Action and has been particularly supportive of Color Squad, our visual arts teen program.

Each year we choose a different social justice issue or theme and launch a youth-driven, arts-based collective impact project as part of our mission to help young people become courageous allies who stand up for equity and use their creative voice to make a difference in the community.

This year, our efforts will focus on climate change and environmental justice, inspiring students and community members to DREAM GREEN by practicing sustainability at school and at home and advocating for environmental justice.

CapMetro’s zero-emissions electric buses came about in parallel with our DREAM GREEN impact project, so we saw it as the perfect alignment to expand our existing partnership.

Can you tell us about the opportunity you saw to merge student art with the launch of Capital Metro’s first pair of zero-emissions electric buses?

We saw the opportunity to help launch CapMetro’s zero-emissions electric buses as a way to merge arts-based learning with your vision for a sustainable future.

Students at our Spark School, Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media & Performing Arts Institute, will use their artistic skills to design bus wraps for the new buses while learning about environmental sustainability.

This collaboration illustrates what can come from an innovative application of creative expression.

Students involved will further develop their 21st century skills and social and emotional competencies, critical skills for developing personally and making positive contributions to their communities.

What matters most when working with children to create art?

What matters most is the sense of freedom and possibility that’s sparked through art-making.

Watching each child create, you see them expressing something unique about themselves, their personality, their thinking, their culture and their place in the world.

While they are working, experimenting, revising and crafting, children are free to make hundreds of choices about innumerable details, using their senses, feelings and ideas to create a work that is entirely new, vibrant and vital.

The nature of art-making and collaboration reminds us that we are all learners regardless of age, and that the most exciting discoveries are when we learn more about ourselves and our community.

If you had one wish for the Austin Community – what would it be?  

For us, the arts provide young people with a dynamic pathway for developing the academic, social and emotional skills for success.

As participants express themselves and build critical 21st century skills through hands-on creative projects, they also connect with their peers, their local communities and the global community beyond Austin.

Our one wish would be that all youth in the Austin community have equal access to arts education.

The new Capital Metro bus electric fleet launches this month.

Learn more about Creative Action!

Road Safety Tips from a CapMetro ATXpert

By Kris Hafezizadeh, Executive Director of Transportation for Austin ISD and CapMetro ATXpert

After a great holiday season, we’re getting ready to go back to school. Soon students will be on the roads again, walking, biking and taking the bus … and not just the yellow school buses. They are also relying on Capital Metro to get to and from campus safely.

Thanks to CapMetro’s Kids Ride Free program, K-12 students can ride the bus free of charge!

To ensure students get to their destination safely, always be on the lookout as they board at bus stops, cross crosswalks and walk to school. Drivers and pedestrians have the responsibility to be careful on the road, and to be aware of school zones and crosswalks. When commuting to and from work, make sure you are following safety practices and being mindful of children on the road.

In addition to being careful when you are behind the wheel, there are other ways you can help us improve safety on the roads. Teach your kids and everyone in your community to always use crosswalks and cross with the signal. Set an example by teaching the younger members of our community to practice street smarts.

Start the new year off right by following safe road practices that help students and everyone in our community arrive at their destination.

5 Ways our New Electric Buses Make for a Positive Future

Electric BusCapital Metro is working with Austin Energy to introduce new all-electric buses to the city early next year. Students at Campbell Elementary are helping to design the look of the buses as a way for us to celebrate the future of Austin.

Austin Energy is our partner in assuring these buses will run on reliable, cost-effective, sustainable, clean energy. Austin Energy, like CapMetro, is committed to helping Central Texas become a cleaner, healthier place by powering our buses with zero-emission, renewable energy sources.

Here are just a few positive things electric buses will do for our growing city.

  1. Zero emissions!

Electric buses produce zero emissions. No harmful smog forming exhaust, no air pollution, no tailpipes. Fewer emissions keep our skies clear, our water clean, the earth green and the critters safe. We share this planet with plants and animals, and we breathe and drink the same air and water. Doing our part means embracing new technology that can help our local city and our overall planet.

  1. Electric buses are cleaner from beginning to end.

Clean has a nice ring to it. Not only do the new buses produce no emissions once they’re on our roads. But, because they’re powered by renewable Austin Energy Green Choice electricity (which comes from the sun and the wind, not fossil fuels), they avoid damaging the environment at the source too. So you can enjoy the breeze and know that it’s also helping to make smarter energy and transportation a reality.

  1. Electric buses are quieter.

Whether you’re riding in an electric bus or outside near them, you don’t hear the motor running, which reduces noise pollution. You can hear the air conditioner and other mechanical noises, but they are significantly quieter inside and out for people and animals.

  1. Electric buses emit less heat.

Less heat can be a good thing, especially in the middle of July.  Standing next to an electric bus at a bus stop will be cooler and more comfortable.

  1. Electric buses produce less waste.

Using less oil, fluids and coolants means less waste product to dispose of. This not only makes maintenance easier, it also means there are fewer chances to spill and pollute local waterways.

* * *

The new CapMetro bus fleet launches in January. It will be backed up by 100% Texas wind power, courtesy of Austin Energy.

“Every Child Can Create”

Kevin_Abeyta
Campbell Elementery’s Kevin Abeyta

Capital Metro is working with Creative Action and Austin ISD to invite students to create designs to decorate the new electric buses that are coming in January.

Kevin Abeyta is the art specialist at Campbell Elementary, where he works to inspire students to express themselves through creative arts. Selected artwork from students in Mr. Abeyta’s classes will be applied as full-bus wraps on the first two electric buses in CapMetro’s fleet.

We asked Mr. Abeyta about the contest and how he teaches his art classes.

What do you do at Campbell Elementary?

The short answer is I encourage each student who walks into the art studio to express themselves in a healthy, positive way through art.

What do you aim to achieve for your students?

​My goal is to foster a safe, accepting and welcoming environment that allows each and every student who crosses the door into the art studio the freedom to express who they are no matter the skill level. Process over product. Every child can create art if they are given the encouragement and freedom to do so.

For this project, Mr. Abeyta is teaching students about various artists’ techniques as inspiration for the electric bus artwork contest. We asked him to tell us why their stories and work are important for students to know.

Can you tell us about some of the artists you’re teaching them about and why you chose them?

​My goal is to honor the culture of children who come into the art studio. We’re learning about artists of color and differing genders. Two in particular we’re focusing on are Romare Bearden and Kehinde Wiley.

Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden’s work dealt with both the urban and rural viewpoints of African Americans. His style is a perfect fit for a project highlighting these aspects of Austin.

We are using Romare’s collage technique to create various scenes and places around Austin. Each student’s personal vision of how they view places around the city can be showcased, and this technique provides a more hands-on style and unified approach to the final artwork.

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley is a contemporary artist who creates vibrant, striking portraits of people of color. He is well known for painting the presidential portrait of Barack Obama. His powerful style and depiction of subjects is the focus for our fifth graders, who are creating their own portraits.

My hope is that in seeing these artists and their work, students will be inspired to go forward and explore art and the world around them on their own. The more artists of color are celebrated and taught, the more children of color can see the beauty and power that they possess inside them.

The new Capital Metro bus fleet launches in January. It will be backed up by 100%-Texas wind power, courtesy of Austin Energy.

The future belongs to our children, and we are super excited to see what they come up with to help us celebrate.

 

Stuff the Bus and Help Your Central Texas Neighbors

Stuff the Bus 2019CapMetro is joining together with Whole Foods Market and the Central Texas Food Bank once again for Stuff the Bus!

The past couple of years, we’ve been able to raise enough to provide 100,000 meals for those most in need throughout the Austin area. And we’ll be doing so again this year from Dec. 6-8 at Whole Foods locations all over Austin.

Every $1 donated creates 4 meals for our Central Texas neighbors in need and helps us reach our goal.

If you’re not able to make it to a Whole Foods, you can also donate online.

5​ ​Halloween​ ​Costume Ideas from CapMetro

Halloween’s a coming and you gotta get it right, we know. CapMetro’s focused on serving the customer, and so we’re here to help in whatever way we can.

And, so, here’re some options for you next week! (Modeled​ ​by​ ​CapMetro​ ​buses​ ​themselves,​ ​naturally …)

Homemade Ghost

Ghost BusA cheap costume that somehow never gets old. While there are lots of ghosts to choose from throughout the history of pop culture (Casper, Slimer, Samara, etc.), there’s something so simple and classic about just cutting some eye holes in a white sheet, throwing it over your head and calling it a day. And hey, if it’s good enough for Charlie Brown and Michael Myers, then it’s good enough for us all.

Scoops Ahoy, from Stranger Things

Scoops Ahoy BusAfter the release of the third season of Stranger Things, you can bet we’ll see a bunch of its most iconic costumes out in the streets. And while you might think the Scoops uniform would be pretty easy to recreate, good luck replicating Steve “The Hair” Harrington’s luscious locks. No amount of volumizing shampoo or lifting spray can clone those genetics. We know. Life just ain’t fair.

Daniel Johnston Homage

Hi How Are You BusAssuming you don’t have the vocal and/or songwriting chops, there’s no better way to pay homage to Daniel Johnston than a shout out to his Hi, How Are You frog. A pioneer of lo-fi sound and a staple of the Austin music scene, there’s bound to be a few out there “Walking the Cow” in honor of this legend.

Detective Pikachu

Pikachu BusYou don’t need to be a detective to know that Pikachu will be the cutest costume this season. Double points to the dude who turns his Pokémon costume into a pun by carrying around a bowl of yellowfin tuna, thus evolving into the ultra-rare “Poké Man.”

Classic Zombie

PRM 191001 DT Sponsored Content Halloween BusesJust like the genre itself, zombie costumes will never stay dead. Come Halloween night, we’ll be sure to see a bunch of Tallahassees, Wichitas and other “insert iconic city names” roaming the streets. But after a night of imbibing, don’t join the heard of the walking drunk. Just “Double Tap” the CapMetro App and hop a safe ride home.