Yelpers Discuss Capital Metro

A customer named Michele sent us this link to a rather interesting thread on Yelp about Capital Metro.

The comments touch on everything from what people like and don’t like about Capital Metro, to a more philosophical discussion about whether there is a stigma attached to riding the bus. Some of the suggestions posted for us are things we would also like to accomplish for the city, the region, and specifically, our customers. But one thing to keep in mind, and I’m sure people realize this but maybe it’s worth mentioning again, with limited resources, we have to prioritize some things. Particularly over the next year or so, which we anticipate to be financially tight, we simply can’t meet everyone’s needs.

But we always appreciate the feedback and the discussion. Join in!

7 thoughts on “Yelpers Discuss Capital Metro

  1. Michele

    Are you saying that even though there was a SIGNIFICANT rate hike to ride Capital Metro last October that none of that extra money is going into expanding bus service in the Austin area? Was it just to pay debts, or executives, or did it all go to the light rail? I don’t get it. I was actually GLAD you raised the rates because I thought that meant you were going to get down to brass tacks and make the bus service in this city really shine. (That’s me, the naive and eternal optimist.)

  2. Misty Whited

    Michele,

    Capital Metro’s passenger fares brought in $5.9 million in FY2008, just 3 percent of the revenue that year. During that same year, it cost approximately $102 million to provide fixed-route bus service and $26.5 million to provide paratransit service. Due to the fare increase, this year Capital Metro is expecting to bring in an estimated $9 million in fare revenue. That additional revenue will help especially during these tough economic times. As you may know, most of our revenue comes from sales tax (about 74%). So when the sales tax drops, which is what it’s been doing since last fall, it affects our budget.

    ServicePlan2020 will help us identify ways to increase efficiencies and provide better service overall. Community input will be an important part of the plan so please stay tuned for more details about the public meetings this summer.

  3. Michele

    I do hope Capital Metro will make a HUGE push to double or even triple their service. Then, and only then, will a huge number of Austin workers take the bus. Right now it simply takes too many people way too long, or there is no bus service in their area. This much is clear. I was actually quite surprised at how many WOULD ride the bus if they felt they COULD. Some who rode the bus in other cities felt they MUST buy a car when they moved to Austin. Cleary the City must get behind this too, and the bus riders are not the big money lobbyists, but if any city in the nation should be able to CARE about its working people, I vote for Austin!!!

  4. Jamie Bemoore

    While I hate to say it, part of Capital Metro’s problem is that the fares are too low. If you look at most other cities, the base fare for a local bus is now $2.00, which is more than double than Capital Metro’s current fare. Most other cities also charge a discounted rate to disabled/elderley/medicare passengers, which I think is fair because everyone should pay something if they use the system.

    Also, Michele, I don’t see how the recent fare hike is SIGNIFICANT. Fares only went up by $0.25, which even if you made a round trip every day would only cost you an extra $182.50 per year (which is still way cheaper than the cost of buying gas)

  5. Michele

    Thanks for your response. I am ENCOURAGED to see that someone at Capital Metro is listening. (smile)

    I do understand that Austin has much lower bus rates than other towns with better service. A 75% rate hike in the monthly pass (and not the 50% rate hike in pay-per-ride) was what caused me to use the word “significant” in re the rate hike. Apparently the hike was not enough to even increase service — and even though since the rate hike the price of gas has nearly halved.

    Whatever you all need to charge to give the City of Austin DECENT bus service, please do it. I don’t like having to pay more — who does? — but for doubled service I’d go for another doubling of the rates — yes, a 100% rate hike!!

    If Cap Metro will PLEASE expand its service SIGNIFICANTLY, please do not overlook the inner city area when increasing service even though most riders who live further in MAY have lower incomes — because those with lower incomes NEED the bus the MOST…!

  6. Michele

    Correction: I should have said an 80% rate hike in the monthly pass (rather than 75%).

    Again, I see hikes in percentages (not in quarters or dollars). In percentages the rate hike was of course significant — especially following last year’s rumor about town that the buses were possibly going to become FREE. Thus, it was for me quite a shock at the time.

    AGAIN: PLEASE double the rates if that will allow you to double the service. WE NEED IT — and it will also help lessen the awful traffic in Austin for those who wish to drive.

  7. Michele

    Oh! There are a couple of things I keep forgetting to mention.

    First: thank you for clarifying why Cap Metro has not expanded its service. I was unaware that the City had cut its funding!

    Re the “Stigma” angle: I have lived in several cities with mass transit and have discovered that in any city such as Austin where the transit system is NOT enough to meet the needs of the majority of the people, it does indeed become a stigma to ride the bus.

    Why? Because basically you are going to get the ridership only of the poor who cannot afford a car and those who you just LUCK into providing the service you need. Ergo, you end up with the great majority of riders being lowest income bracket. To admit one rides the bus can create the (false) impression that a person is unable to afford a car — because the general consensus is that the transit is not enough for a normal person’s needs.

    Once Capital Metro DOES provide the service that a LOT more people can use and count on — especially to get to work!! — then it will become the “general consensus” that riding the bus is a smart and ecological choice. Until then, yes, I have encountered (in real life though not on Yelp) that many people I talk to fear taking the bus — both because they are afraid they will get stranded and also because of the uncomfortableness we so often feel in sitting across from drunks or derelicts from time to time.

    Lastly, I am not disabled so I cannot speak for the disabled community — but then maybe I can in a way. I actually HAVE been disabled (foot-wise) for the past couple of years and if I went to a doctor and got the certifications I could probably ride the bus free too. But I really don’t want to do that. However, my impression is that the same people who have free bus passes for the bus also get free money each month to live on; is that not correct? Therefore I feel it is only right that they pay too — but a discounted fee, as you suggested.

    As for the homeless, well, I guess the more expensive the buses are the less they will ride the bus, but I don’t want to cut them out and I don’t feel we need to cut them out. In fact I think it would be a great thing to give temporary passes to those who are staying at shelters, such as the homeless shelters or battered women’s shelters, etc.

    Thanks again for listening. I love the bus and I would love to see Austin do it up right!!

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