14 thoughts on “Capital MetroRail Update

  1. vindobonensis

    Erica, thanks for the June progress report! I have a couple of questions:

    1. Once CM determines that the system has "demonstrated to be operating in a consistent, reliable and safe manner," how long will it take from that point in time before service can start?

    2. I noticed that when freight trains cross the Lamar/Airport intersection (usually some time after midnight), only two of the (quad) gates are coming down and the train still signals its horn, even though this is a quiet zone. Has CM perhaps intentially disabled the quad gates there so cars don't get stuck inbetween them?

    3. I've read in the news that there was a recent near-accident at an intersection still undergoing adjustment (on MLK?). In the event that the gates malfunction, who is generally liable in an accident? CM? Veolia? City of Austin? Nobody?

  2. Life. Complicated.

    Vin – I watched the news footage on the "near" miss and it appeared to be more of a car going around the gates than anywhere close to a near miss!

    I am anxious to hear the answer to #1. My MIL reported that the train is supposed to open sometime this summer. Well, since since summer doesnt end until Sept/Oct, it may be another year before we get it.

  3. Adam Shaivitz

    1. Ideally we would just want to allow enough time for us to give the community ample notice of when service will begin though various outlets, including web, blog, Twitter, rider e-mail alerts, passenger notices on buses, signs at passenger facilities, and outreach to news media and business/neighborhood groups, etc. While that outreach is underway, we would activate the bus routes and staffing changes necessary for full rail service operations. This time frame could be about a week or two, but we'll know more when we get closer.

    2. The exit gates at the Lamar crossing needed some additional work which was completed at the end of last week. The next step for this crossing is to certify it which involves running a train through under normal conditions several times in each direction. Once it is certified and placed back into full service, trains will no longer be required to sound horns unless there’s an emergency situation such as a car or pedestrian on or too close to the tracks.

    3. Generally speaking, when an accident or injury claim is made against Capital Metro, our insurer (Texas Municipal League- Intergovernmental Risk Pool) or a contractor’s insurer, if applicable, conducts an investigation to determine if there is liability. As for the MLK crossing, here is the statement Capital Metro released on June 8 in response to the allegations made in the original news story.

  4. Life. Complicated.

    Thanks Adam for your response and update. Previously the time announced was 45 days to run on pre revenue service to check timings, safety, etc.

    Are we still looking at a similar time period? I know that CapMetro is hesitant to announce anything or make any type of lean toward anything due to being gun shy with the delays, etc. I haven't found the news story that supposedly states that it would open by this summer.

    Is the thought that a longer testing period will make a safer system?

    Also, on the "mid July" update, since the mid June update was actually 2/3 through June, will the July update be similarly situated?

  5. M1EK

    Earlier this afternoon, I drove east across Airport on 51st and turned left onto Caswell (to get to Red River). The line-up for this left turn is heavily used but very short; there were 2 vehicles including mine waiting there, and we were just BARELY outside the gates, I think.

    This intersection needs to be reconfigured immediately or a disaster awaits. In peak hours, more cars are making this turn – and you cannot reasonably expect people to fit in this queue and somehow figure out where the gates will come down. As much as it would pain me personally, I'd eliminate the left turn there.

  6. vindobonensis

    Adam, thanks for answering all my questions in detail!

    I am glad to hear that you think you'll be able to start service within about 2 weeks from when the system is declared safe! I was bracing myself for that to take several months. It gives me hope that rail service will start in the not too distant future!

    Thanks for the link to the details of the alledged rail incident investigation. After reviewing the video frame by frame, I'm still not sure what exactly happenend there between these two cars, but it's pretty clear the train was proceeding cautiously. Good luck to CM for completing the adjustment of the crossing gates!

  7. Adam Shaivitz

    There's not a set 45-day period. Back in October we did talk about a 45-day pre-revenue phase. But the plan now is to complete the remaining milestones and open once it is verified that all systems are in order.

  8. Jamie Bemoore

    Is Capital Metro still going to have a Saturday grand opening celebration once the system is ready for the public?

  9. Adam Shaivitz

    Our priority is to open the system for regular service. However, we do know that many people who perhaps won't have the opportunity to ride during scheduled service will still want to try it out. So at some point we'd still like to pick one Saturday when we would run trains so families, etc. can come out and take a ride. But I don't anticipate that happening before the start of regular service.

  10. Don Dickson

    I was and still am greatly disturbed by the news that CM was trying to get the bus drivers to give back their putrid little 3 percent raise. It's certainly not their fault if y'all are hemorrhaging cash on the Red Line, and CM wussed-out when it should have stood firm on the $1 fare, which still would have been among the cheapest in the nation.

    Give the drivers what you promised them. Cut your consultants by 3% and you'll come out ahead on the deal, no doubt in my mind.

  11. Adam Shaivitz

    Don, despite what's sometimes reported in the news, Capital Metro doesn't have the authority to adjust the wages of StarTran's bargaining employees. Any changes to the labor agreement would have to be negotiated by StarTran and the Union. Speaking of hemorrhaging, the main factor in our budget process is our diminished sales tax allocation. You can follow our budget process here.

  12. M1EK

    Adam, that's disingenuous – you know what Don meant – CM is using the threat of shifting more routes away from StarTran to try to extract wage concessions from union employees.

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