Riders, Riders Everywhere

A letter to the editor in today’s Austin American-Statesman stated that Capital Metro is not addressing the increased ridership growth, specifically on Route 935. Since the Statesman prefers to keep letters to about 150 words, we’ll use some extra space on the blog to take a closer look.

First, it’s important to remember that when we assign buses, we have many routes to consider. If we solely address the needs of Route 935, then we’d be neglecting other routes with the same issues. We have to look at the system and make decisions based on ridership and safety. And yes, don’t forget about the “b” word (budget).

Capital Metro monitors ridership very closely to make sure we match the largest buses with the busiest routes whenever possible (there are other factors to consider; for example, some streets and intersections cannot safely accommodate larger buses).

Staff worked diligently over the summer to respond to customer and bus operator feedback about crowded buses by:

1. Reinstating some trips on routes 982 and 983 that we normally scale back in the summer
2. Sending an extra bus to supplement route 935 during the morning rush
3. Adding an extra bus to route 990 (this particular route normally operates with smaller vehicles and limited trips)
4. Purchasing an extra 45-foot express bus which went into service about a month ago

This is in addition to making tweaks to bus assignments on a regular basis.

We’re not finished. Just a few days ago, our Board of Directors approved the purchase of eight 40-foot buses which we hope to add to the fleet in the next few months. And we’re still looking at other possibilities to supplement our fleet.

Are we still facing challenges with crowded buses? You bet, especially now that we’re in our fall schedules and school is back.

Getting back to the budget, the massive increase in fuel costs also affects how we’re able to respond to service growth. Diesel fuel prices have increased more than 336 percent in the past five years. Fuel is expected to be about 14 percent of our total operating budget in the upcoming fiscal year.

You can be sure that Capital Metro will continue to work hard to address the needs of our community as resources allow.

11 thoughts on “Riders, Riders Everywhere

  1. Stephen Gutknecht

    Don, I’m just a rider, but 14% fuel doesn’t seem out of line at all.

    I used to drive a 40′ Bluebird wanderlodge at 50,000 pounds with a plenty large engine (475 HP) and got 6MPG. I assume the city 40′ bus gets 4 to 7MPG.

    Given their budget includes 8 new bus purchases (cash or financed?) and labor to pay drivers, mechanics, etc. Also consider they have to pay insurance, maintain stops, etc, etc.

  2. Andreas

    RapidBus on the #1 line should be accelerated even if this causes the #3 RapidBus to be delayed. The #1/#101 is packed much of the time.

    The current proposal to build both systems in parallel but all resources should be focused on the line that’s desperately full much of the time.

  3. M1EK

    andreas, RapidBus won’t help conditions on the #1/#101 at all – the parts of the route that experience delays due to traffic congestion are generally experiencing delays from intersections many lights ahead – not just the one that the doodad on the bus MIGHT be able to hold a bit longer.

    Rapid Bus is a complete waste of time and energy – signifying a truly awful effort to convince people on this corridor that they don’t need rail.

  4. Don Dickson

    Downtown service on the 1/101 would improve immediately if it didn’t have ten stops between Cesar Chavez and the Capitol.

    Suggest 2/4/6/8/10 for the #1 and 2/6/10 for the #101.

    That would cut four minutes off the trip in the span of a quarter-mile.

  5. Kraft

    I agree with Don on the 1/101 stops downtown.

    I thought I read that CapMetro was considering having the 1 alternate every other street. 2/4/6/8/10 for NB, CC/3/5/7/9/11 for SB. Whatever happened to that idea?

  6. Don Dickson

    The 1 is really getting badly overcrowded in the downtown area during rush hours. You can hardly get on, and then you can hardly get off.

    More buses! More buses!

    But honestly, I’m not very upset about people having to stand on the buses. In one sense, it’s a long overdue dream come true. The price of gas is finally making people come to their senses.

    I’d like to pitch an idea to CM….we’ve discussed here before the idea that you can’t always have transit systems come to you, sometimes you have to engineer your life around the availability of transit systems….I think it would be cool for CM to work with local realtors and apartment locators to promote sales and rentals of homes and apartments that are well-served by the transit system. A lot of realtors and apartment locators are somewhat clueless about these things because they don’t use transit systems themselves.

  7. Andreas

    I rode the #1 this morning going north and it was standing room only. Downtown, a wheelchair guy had to get on. Quite a few people had to get off involuntarily at that point and presumably wait for the next #1. This bus was one of the new ones too, which I think might have be 45′ long. It’s certainly the biggest bus CM has right now.

  8. tlbuck

    Please have the #311 serving the South Austin Transit Center. There are people complaining about it not doing so since the 24th of August and some of these folks are elderly and walking on the frontage road just to get to the HEB (HEB employees are complaining as well).

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