Hello and Thank You

Let me begin by saying thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read one more article and for taking the time to care enough about Public Transit in Austin to be involved. Hopefully this blog will prove valuable to the local community and will increase the transparency of Capital Metro as a public agency. My goals for the technology section of the Blog are two-fold.

1. I hope to be able to communicate more information, in a more meaningful way, without the inherent delays when we go through more traditional channels. Board meetings and newsletters are fine, but the reality today is that there is far more information and far more changes happening in any given space of time than can be communicated through older forms of dialog. Hence my strong desire to use this blog to get a lot more across to everyone who cares.

2. I hope to have 2-way communication and dialog around the topics of interest to you. Of course I will be writing on the topics that I think are the most central to the region’s transit interests, but the beauty of this format is that if I miss the target, you can let me hear about it. Without the formality of other mediums, I hope that this website can produce some real conversations about the things that matter most.

I will keep this brief, but I do truly hope to publish a lot of critical topics to supplement the other channels of information Capital Metro is using to communicate. I look forward to your responses and feedback, but if there is something you would like to see here, please feel free to drop me a line so I can discuss it with you in future posts.

Thanks,
Kirk Talbott
CIO – Capital Metro

15 thoughts on “Hello and Thank You

  1. That One Guy

    Thanks for starting the blog! This is perfect for me as I can subscribe in my RSS feeder. The e-mails were great, but this is better. I am waiting eagerly for the rail solutions Capital Metro is working on especially and hope that you’ll provide ample coverage here. I return to the AllSystemsGo.capmetro.org site regularly for news but would like to see more thorough coverage of the progress here if that is possible.

    Thanks again for starting this blog, I am really excited about it.

  2. Don Dickson

    Here’s kind of a low-tech question for you: Why do so many CapMetro buses display the incorrect time on their onboard LED displays? This may seem like a trivial matter, but I don’t think it is. A bus system that runs on a schedule needs to prove to the public that it knows the correct time.

  3. Snowed In

    Don,

    Be happy it’s just the time that’s wrong. I’ve experienced buses announcing stops on the other side of town from where we were.

  4. Kirk Talbott

    Both valid issues. The wrong time is caused by older equipment (circa 97 – 98) that gets out of synch over time. To correct the error requires manual intervention which takes place during scheduled preventative maintenance (so there will be inaccuracy until the bus is due in for its next regular “check-up”). As for the enunciators, this is caused by the simple fact that the bus system that controls the announcements does not actually know where the bus is at any given moment. Just where it “thinks” it should be. Hence the errors sometimes.

    Both of these issues have been addressed in the design of our new Automatic Vehicle Location system that is slated for installation this summer and fall.

  5. greg c

    This is a little thing, but could you make it so that clicking the “read more” links don’t open up in a new page? Thanks. I look forward to following along.

  6. Easy Rider

    Some of the park and ride clocks need fixing too. But if you’re focusing on adding more buses to crowded routes then that’s certinaly a higher priority to me than resetting a few clocks.

  7. Carl Webb

    The Bus Riders Union of Austin, Texas is committed to improving the quality and accessibility of public mass transit.

    http://www.busatx.org

    The Bus Riders Union of Austin, Texas was successful in stopping the local bus company, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, from increasing all bus fare rates across the board in September 2007. All fare rates were slated to double, except for Special Transit Services, which caters to disabled people, which would have quadrupled. In the weeks leading up to the budget setting meeting, BRU members appealed to bus riders through radio interviews, newspaper coverage, and even distributing printed material on buses. Members also lobbied city council members who also sat on Capital Metro’s board and key committees. At the September 17th board meeting that discussed the budget one week before the budget was formally adopted, members of the Bus Riders Union, PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources), ADAPT of Texas (a grassroots disability rights group),and other citizens convincingly argued against the proposed fare increases. With the help of ample media coverage, the public outcry proved large enough to stop the bus rate increases.

  8. Don Dickson

    All the complaining about the fare increase really caught me by surprise. Capital Metro is the least expensive transit system I have used anywhere in the United States. You could double the fare and I think it might -still- be the cheapest ride anywhere.

    Just like a lot of these motorists driving to work by themselves in their Suburbans and Tahoes need to wake up, there are some CM riders who I think need to wake up, too.

  9. Carl Webb

    Don is correct that CapMetro is one of the cheapest bus services and it is also one of the worst bus services. There are bus services that have bus fares that are twice as high but the level of service is twice as good.

  10. That One Guy

    I just hope that the failure of the rate increase doesn’t mean development of the system is going to be impaired by lack of funding 😦

  11. Don Dickson

    I’m surprised to hear you say that, Carl. CM’s far from perfect, but I think it’s one of the most usable bus systems in the country, in addition to being just about the cheapest.

  12. Carl Webb

    Hi Don,

    What other bus systems are you using as a comparison? I’m from New Orleans and I’ve I’ve been to San Antonio, Portland, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and DC.

  13. Don Dickson

    I too have used a lot of transit systems in my life, and I think the key to evaluating their usefulness is to look at them from the perspective of a tourist or a first-time user. How difficult is it to figure out where you are, where you’re going, how to get there, when the next bus will arrive, and so forth. In that sense, I’d have to say that CM does a fantastic job.

    There are a lot of transit systems that will get you where you want to go. But some only guarantee same-day delivery. And some are so impossible to figure out that you just want to give up and take a cab.

  14. Carl Webb

    As a first time user when I arrived I found it difficult to figure out where I was, where I was going, how to get there, when the next bus will arrive, and so forth.

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