Capital Metro will put in place a new MetroRail schedule next week for evaluation. We’ll operate on this new schedule beginning the week of March 19 and evaluate how the service performs. The new schedule was developed in response to recent service disruptions on the MetroRail Red Line.
Please refer to these schedules, beginning March 19:
The agency is currently working on two major construction projects along the 32-mile rail line. These projects are an investment in the future of MetroRail, and will pay off with doubled frequency and capacity. Capital Metro is building additional passing points along the MetroRail route that will enable the service — once the new Downtown Station is completed — to double its frequency and capacity. The other project is implementing a federally mandated positive train control system, which will ensure the long-term safety and security of the service.
The projects will continue throughout 2018, and some service disruptions can be expected for the remainder of the year. During the week of March 19, though, we will evaluate the new schedule, which should minimize service disruptions. To ensure the transition will be seamless, routes for rail connector buses have been adjusted as well.
MetroRail riders — and probably anyone within regular earshot of MetroRail riders — have noticed that the service has had difficulty as of late keeping to its schedule. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and for the disruption to your plans. But let us try to explain what’s happening, what’s causing the delays and what we’re trying to do to remedy the situation.
First, the delays themselves.
Since January, MetroRail trains have experienced delays of anywhere between 5 and 45 minutes. It hasn’t happened every day, but often enough. And, once it starts happening, it’s difficult to get back on schedule, and so brief delays in the morning rush hour can turn into lengthier delays by the evening. The best thing to do is to use the Next Departure feature on the CapMetro App and on our website to determine when your train’s gonna be there.
But what’s causing all this, you’re asking yourself.
Well, here’s the deal … it’s not just one issue, unfortunately. The delays stem from two separate projects that are under construction at the same time. We’re building additional passing points along the MetroRail route that will enable us — once our Downtown Station is completed — to double the frequency and capacity of the service. We are also implementing a federally mandated positive train control system, which will ensure the long-term safety and security of the service.
Here at Cap Metro we love an engineer. They design and build our transit infrastructure, program our software and plan our routes. They also drive our trains … although that may be a different kind of engineering, now that you mention it. The point is, we think engineers are great, and we need more of ’em.
That’s why we’re thrilled that UT Austin is once again hosting Girl Day on February 24. The event will bring together more than 8,000 elementary and middle school students on the UT campus to celebrate International Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, which is called just Girl Day (or even #GirlDay2018 if you’re so inclined).
The students will be able to do a ton of hands-on stuff that’ll get them familiar with what engineers do and how they make the world work. The kids will work with more than 1,300 UT students, faculty members and professional engineers from around Central Texas. They’ll also have loads of fun!
(And, just to be clear, boys are welcome, too.)
The festival takes place on campus from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. All are welcome. That is, if you can get down there. You know, with the traffic and the search for parking spots, and the paying for parking spots and the headaches. That’s where Cap Metro comes in.
We’re providing free Park & Ride services from 5 Austin Public Library locations for the event, giving you the chance to avoid the hassle and cost that come with trying to get to and park on campus. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can park at any of the 5 library locations listed below, go inside to request your free Local Day Pass and then hop on the bus. Cap Metro staff will be there on campus to help guide you to the activities.
There’s another great thing happening with these Transit Adventures. One of our partnerships helps Girl Scouts earn transit merit badge, and Girl Day is a perfect chance to work toward that.
YOU MUST REGISTER FOR YOUR FREE RIDE AT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS:
Earlier this week, the Austin Transportation Department released a Preliminary Engineering Report for Guadalupe St. near the University of Texas campus. Commonly known as “The Drag”, this section of roadway sees some of the highest levels of transit ridership in the entire Capital Metro system.
However, riders all too often find that riding through that part of town really is a drag. Why? Because even though more than half of the people traveling north and south on Guadalupe on any given weekday morning or afternoon are in our buses, they’re usually still stuck in heavy traffic. In other words, a bus that can carry more than 40 people is given the exact same level of priority as a car with just one.
And that’s why we’re so excited about the proposed improvements to The Drag, and particularly the addition of transit priority lanes: They improve travel for the maximum number of people, regardless of how they travel. Continue reading “Taking the ‘Drag’ out of The Drag”→
You’ve probably heard about the big changes we’re planning to put in place next June.
In fact, we know that you know about them because we’ve heard from a lot of you. And the great thing about receiving all that feedback is that it gives us a chance to make our proposal better.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common suggestions we’ve heard and our responses:
It’d really be great if Route 5 still served the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center in the state complex near Lamar and 51st, can you make that happen?
Yes, we can, as a matter of fact. We had proposed to run Route 5 down Burnet and then Medical Parkway before turning to Lamar on 38th Street. Riders wanted to be able to access the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center, and since we have other routes on Medical Parkway, we’ve agreed to change our proposal.
Speaking of Route 5, can you please keep it on Speedway? We’re used to that and like it the way it is.
That one, we can’t recommend. Not only does UT Shuttle Route 656 run on Speedway already, but frequent service would be available within a 5-minute walk on Duval (Route 7) and a 6-minute walk on Guadalupe (MetroRapid 801). The goal of these changes is to create a simple, efficient system that avoids route duplication. We also want to operate buses on major corridors for the most part, rather than neighborhood streets.
Farther north, you guys really need to keep service to the business park east of the Norwood Walmart, where the main post office is. Why are you trying to eliminate that route?
We’ve heard this one a lot, to be honest. That portion of the current Route 323 doesn’t have a whole lot of ridership, and that’s why we proposed to remove service. But enough of you have spoken out in favor of keeping service there that we are proposing to create the new Route 339 Tuscany. It would operate every 60 minutes starting from the Walmart, traveling through the Tuscany Business Park, past the H-E-B at Loyola and Springdale, before ending near the intersection of Tannehill and Webberville in East Austin.
None of these revisions we’re proposing can cause the plan to go over budget, however. And that means we would have to balance the costs of this new service by removing the proposed extension of Route 323 to Far West. Instead, the new proposal would end that route at Northcross Shopping Center, and Far West would be served by Route 19. Continue reading “You’ve Asked … Here Are Our Answers”→
In a recent post, A Tale of Two Modes, we discussed why gondolas and heavy rail aren’t being considered for future high-capacity transit service as part of Project Connect’s regional transit system plan.
Now, we want to talk about two types of transit we ARE considering for Project Connect.
“What is Fixed-Guideway Bus Rapid Transit?”
A step up from Capital Metro’s MetroRapid service, Fixed-guideway Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is designed to operate much like a rail service, travelling in its own lanes and providing frequent service – every 10-30 minutes. It’s faster than traditional and rapid bus service both because the stops are placed approximately ½ to 2 miles apart, so it makes fewer stops, and because it operates in dedicated lanes, uninterrupted by other traffic. Yes, you read that right: No getting stuck in traffic! Because fixed-guideway BRT moves a lot of people, at a greater frequency in its own lanes, it is considered a high-capacity transit mode.International standards are different and designate bronze, silver or gold status to a BRT service depending on the percentage of the dedicated lane it uses.
To develop this type of service, however, Capital Metro must first secure right-of-way to locate and install the definitive dedicated lanes. What seems simple – changing a lane of an existing road into a dedicated transit lane – takes more than just a new coat of paint. Just as we did to construct transit-priority lanes for MetroRapid, Capital Metro would need to work with regional transportation partners like the city of Austin and TxDOT to develop inter-agency plans to secure the right-of-way, all while ensuring that other forms of transportation still have safe and efficient use of surrounding lanes.
Fixed-guideway BRT stations can be designed and built to include safe drop-off/pickup and waiting zones for riders. Stations on major roadways can be built above road-level.
“Why are you considering Fixed-guideway BRT instead of Light Rail?”
A lot of you want to see Capital Metro add sleek, innovative modes to its transit mix and feel that BRT buses don’t fit the bill.
Fixed-guideway BRT and Light Rail share some of the same qualities: Both operate in dedicated lanes, connect local activity centers and feature stops approximately ½ to 2 miles apart.
While BRT buses are flexible and can easily travel on winding roadways, light rail trains demand straighter tracking. Other key differences are the building and maintenance costs. Light rail requires performing major excavation, building an electrified track, having a constant electrical supply, constructing sub-stations, installing overhead wires and buying and maintaining more expensive vehicles. Cha-ching! Fixed-guideway BRT is a lot less expensive.
Even so, light rail can carry many more passengers than BRT. So, if all the required resources are available – the corridor has enough demand (read: LOTS of people in densely developed areas) and is a “straight shot” between activity centers, land can be dedicated and converted to tracking, electricity is in constant supply, ample funding is available and the public has voted to support the project (see Texas Transportation Code Section 451.3625) – light rail can be part of Project Connect’s regional high-capacity transit system.
The bottom line: The Project Connect team is considering fixed-guideway BRT and light rail where appropriate.
Have you seen the pictures? Have you read about all the featured attractions?
Austin’s about to get a brand new Central Library and it looks fantastic. It’s gonna have a million things on offer:
Reading porches that overlook Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake
A central atrium
A rooftop garden
Something called a Tech Petting Zoo
A “37-foot-tall kinetic sculpture that resembles a cuckoo clock with a swinging pendulum”!
Also, it’s got books. Literal stacks on stacks of books.
I mean … it sounds great, right?
And you’ll be able to see it for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 28 at the grand opening. That is, if you can get down there. You know, with the traffic and the parking and the headaches. That’s where Cap Metro comes in.
We’re providing free Park & Ride services from 5 Austin Public Library locations for the grand opening, giving you the chance to avoid the hassle and fees that come with trying to get (and park) downtown. From noon to 5 p.m., you can park at any of the 5 library locations listed below, go inside to request your free Local Day Pass and then hop on the bus downtown. Cap Metro staff will be down there to help guide you to the new Central Library.
YOU MUST REGISTER FOR YOUR FREE RIDE AT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS: