More shelters coming to CapMetro bus stops

Welcome to the CapMetro blog, where we regularly highlight CapMetro’s many offerings and its best-in-class workforce.

Texas weather can change in an instant. One minute it’s hot and sunny, without a cloud in the sky. The next, it’s pouring rain.

CapMetro shelters help protect riders from the elements as they await their buses. Soon, even more of those shelters will be in place to keep passengers safe and comfortable.

An estimated 800 shelters have already been constructed, accounting for around a third of all CapMetro bus stops. Following a unanimous vote at CapMetro’s July board meeting, held July 25, approximately 550 more shelters will be acquired from Tolar Manufacturing Inc. The $8.4 million contract has a one-year base period, with four one-year options.

Tolar is already familiar with CapMetro, having previously constructed bus shelters for the agency.

CapMetro’s green bus shelters are being retired.

Of those 550 shelters, an estimated 150 shelters will be new to the CapMetro network. The rest will replace CapMetro’s existing ubiquitous green shelters, many of which are nearing the end of their useful lifespans.

“The new shelters are an upgrade to the old ones because they provide additional weather protection,” said Moraima Dones, a technical program/project manager at CapMetro. “They safeguard passengers from the sun, wind and rain, plus the cool paint color minimizes heat buildup.”

The new shelters will be installed by CapMetro employees.

All 500 of the shelters will be placed along fixed routes. CapMetroRapid stops already have shelters in place.

Typically, in order to qualify for a shelter, a bus stop must have a minimum of 50 boardings per day. Exceptions are, however, made in special circumstances, such as when a stop is in close proximity to social service agencies, schools, medical facilities or future development sites.

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CapMetro shelters offer riders protection from the elements, including sun and rain.

Solar power helps CapMetro light up the night

So far, about 125 CapMetro bus shelters have solar lighting.

Welcome to the CapMetro blog, where we regularly highlight CapMetro’s many offerings and its best-in-class workforce.

At CapMetro, your safety and security are our top priority all day, every day.

We are constantly searching for new – and better – ways to keep passengers and operators safe.

To that end, CapMetro is embarking upon an ambitious new program that will result in solar lighting at more than 900 bus stops systemwide within the next five years. The focus will be on fixed-route stops; all CapMetroRapid stops already have lighting.

The multi-year solar lighting program was approved by CapMetro’s board of directors at the July board meeting held July 25. The contract with SELS USA LLC calls for a one-year base period and four option years. The total cost over five years is estimated at $1.1 million.

“We are committed to providing amenities for our riders’ well-being beyond bus essential services,” said Moraima Dones, a technical program/project manager at CapMetro. “The lights are important because they provide safety, security and visibility.”

The lights need no electricity to operate, helping to promote sustainability. After initial installation expenses, the solar panels will result in years of lighting before dawn and after dusk at no cost to CapMetro.

Lights will be located at sheltered and unsheltered stops. At shelters, the lights are roof-mounted; at most unsheltered stops, lights will be placed atop existing signage poles. Stops that are heavily shaded will instead get solar streetlights mounted atop newly installed poles – something not presently in use in the CapMetro network.

Currently, there is solar lighting at approximately 165 stops – 125 stops with shelters and 40 unsheltered stops. An additional 750 stops will get similar lighting within five years, according to Kenneth Cartwright, CapMetro’s Vice President of Capital Projects.

The board unanimously approved the proposal. At the meeting, board member Eric Stratton praised Cartwright and his team for their continued efforts to increase safety and security at bus stops.

“This is phenomenal,” Stratton said. “I want to thank the staff. How amazing is this? This is a huge victory, a huge win. I want to thank you all for how responsive you’ve been to us as a board and also to the community requests on this.”

CapMetro welcomes – and encourages – your comments on our blog. Comments that are abusive in nature will be removed, in accordance with our social media policy.

June Safety Month: Safety & Security

We’re serious about safety – and that includes making sure customers are safe on board our services and at CapMetro facilities. CapMetro is changing how we respond to calls and how to promote customer and staff safety. Our multi-pronged approach features:

  • Public safety ambassadors who serve as the primary contacts for customers and employees and respond to safety matters that do not require a police officer
  • On-staff social workers to respond to quality-of-life issues on the system and provide mental health first aid training to CapMetro employees
  • More security cameras and safety infrastructure on vehicles and at facilities for faster identification and handling of issues
  • Transit-focused police officers for specific instances when law enforcement is truly needed

And you can help. If you see something, say something. We have four ways for you to report disruptive, unsafe or suspicious behavior you may see on board our vehicles or at our facilities.

  • Use the CapMetro App and choose “More” to select “Report Public Safety Issue” to make a report. The app also allows you to call 911 directly in case of an emergency.
  • Download the See Say Now app (iOS and Android) and choose CapMetro under “Transit.”
  • Use this webform.
  • Use the Text-a-Tip feature to send your report to 512-488-4200.

We can all work together to make transit safer for everyone. Safety is our top priority not just for June Safety Month, but every month and every day.

This video follows our Public Safety Ambassadors for a day along the CapMetro system.

June Safety Month: Game Day Safety

Austin FC season is in full swing and CapMetro is a great way to get to the game. Getting to and from the game safely is the most important goal of the night! According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, someone is struck by a train at a highway rail crossing every three hours. Trains can’t stop quickly. A train that is traveling 55 miles per hour can take more than a mile to stop, even with an emergency application of the brakes.

Follow these tips to stay safe around train tracks:

  • Stop if you see flashing red lights.
  • Only cross at a designated public crossing.
  • Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing.
  • Only cross if gate arms are up, lights have stopped flashing and bells have stopped ringing.

Be safe and be smart. If you are going to a game at Q2 Stadium, please look out for the flashing lights and rail crossing gate arms and NEVER trespass by walking along tracks outside of designated public crossings. Use sidewalks, even if it takes a bit longer.

Whether you take the train or bus, it’s important to stay alert amidst the festive atmosphere. It can be really easy to move and walk with the crowd but that doesn’t mean you’re protected from distracted drivers. Keep your head up and continue to look for traffic when the game is over. Don’t just spill into the street where you run the risk of getting hit.

If you are headed for some post-game festivities and have mapped your trek, make sure your eyes aren’t glued to your screen the entire time. Check your phone periodically and only when you’re safely on the sidewalk or a corner, out of the street.

Whether you take the train or bus, CapMetro is always a good choice for a safe ride.