Capital MetroRail update

Today we released the October MetroRail progress update. Not a lot new to report since Sept. 28, though. Here’s the report:


Work is underway on the two primary categories that remain in the MetroRail Red Line project, which were identified during last month’s Hazard Analysis/Risk Assessment:

• Issues requiring programming changes to the Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) system

• Issues requiring operating procedure modifications

(See the rail startup update presented at the September 28 Board of Directors meeting for additional information about the remaining steps.)

Capital Metro anticipates that the programming and procedural changes will be complete by January. At that time, we will perform a full system validation to verify the integration of all components based on the changes. We estimate the last steps, including the final validation and a review by the FRA, to be complete in the first quarter of the year.

“I am committed to the successful completion of this project, and we have taken the necessary steps and put the appropriate resources in place. MetroRail will make a positive difference in this community and will be a major step toward a comprehensive regional transportation system for central Texas.”

–Doug Allen, Capital Metro Interim President/CEO

5 thoughts on “Capital MetroRail update

  1. vindobonensis

    Hi, first of all, I welcome the leadership change in the organization and hope it will lead to a more timely resolution of the issues in the way of opening the rail line.

    While I’m not too happy about hearing “January” and “first quarter of 2010” I do commend you for putting dates with the projects for the first time since March!

    Do you happen to have a running total of cost, depreciation, and lost revenue for MetroRail since the projected opening date, and a plan for making it up? I don’t think that increasing the fare by 100%, before the rail will ever be running, is a particularly good idea. At that price, and with the extremely limited schedule of the rail, I can’t see myself using it regularly.

    Of course, there is something to be said for passing on more of the true cost of the rail to the customers through fares, but perhaps this just means that the planned rail system is not a cost-effective means of transportation. The city where I grew up has the same price for a monthly pass as the proposed $75 MetroRail pass, but for that price you get unlimited rides on a dense network of commuter rail, light rail, subway, most of which run in 5-15 minute increments from early morning to late evening, 7 days a week.

  2. Life. Complicated.

    I am confused. The twitter update says that the train will be ready to roll sometime during the 1st quarter of 2010. However, the update says that the changes will be complete in 1st quarter of 2010. I think it is a broad jump to go from complete in and up and running.

    CapMetro has to give the FRC 30 days notice of when it will start. I am still thinking sometime 2nd quarter. Let’s hope I am wrong.

  3. vindobonensis

    Life. Complicated., here is my own projection on how MetroRail will progress!

    Q1 of 2010 … Programming changes for CTC are more extensive than initially thought. Now projected to be completed Q3 of 2010.
    Q3 of 2010 … Updating staffing plans for grand opening and refining schedule times.
    Q4 of 2010 … Decide to upgrade CTC to Windows 7.
    Q1 of 2011 … FRA finds that the red stripes at the front and sides of the trains are intrinsically unsafe and are to be replaced with blue wavy lines.
    Q3 of 2011 … Since Diesel fuel prices are going through the roof, decide to convert trains to all-electric with 100% renewable energy.
    Q1 of 2012 … Scrape off the rust from the tracks that has developed since 2009 so that the quad gates work properly.
    Q2 of 2012 … Decide to upgrade quad gates to quin gates.
    Q3 of 2012 … Updating literature with schedule times from Q3 of 2010.
    Q4 of 2012 … Refine schedule times.
    Q1 of 2013 … Update staffing plans for grand opening and review safety procedures.
    Q2 of 2013 … Since all children have graduated since the last rail safety campaign in schools, start a new one.
    Q3 of 2013 … Since wind energy prices are going through the roof, convert trains to Diesel.
    Q2 of 2014 … FRA finds that the depiction of the Capitol at the front of the trains is not realistic enough.
    Q3 of 2014 … Replace the old seats with new seats.
    Q4 of 2014 … Upgrade CTC to Windows 8.
    Q1 of 2015 … Decide to plant trees at all stations to offset the carbon footprint of MetroRail.
    Q2 of 2015 … Cut down the trees and install solar panels for plug-in hybrid vehicles at the Park and Rides.
    Q3 of 2015 … Decide to extend MetroRail line to the booming populations of Bertram and Burnet.
    Q1 of 2016 … Scrape rust off rail and upgrade to octo gates.
    Q2 of 2016 … Decide to extend MetroRail to the Capitol to avoid confusion with it being depicted on the front of the trains.
    Q4 of 2016 … Update schedule times, staffing plans, and literature for grand opening.
    Q1 of 2017 … Upgrade wireless internet in trains to Internet 3.0.
    Q2 of 2017 … Real-time integration of CTC into Twitter so customers can track the geospatial location of the trains.
    Q3 of 2017 … Decide to convert trains to natural gas.
    Q1 of 2018 … Update staffing plans and literature for grand opening.
    Q2 of 2018 … Realign tracks for the growing population of Florence.
    Q3 of 2018 … Since all children have graduated since the last rail safety campaign in schools, start a new one.
    Q4 of 2018 … Refine schedule times.
    Q1 od 2019 … Announce that trains may initially only operate between Kramer and Howard. Charge $5 more because it will cross a zone boundary.
    Q2 of 2019 … Decide to convert trains to hydrogen.
    Q4 of 2019 … Upgrade CTC to Windows 9.
    Q1 of 2020 … Upgrade staffing patterns for grand opening set for March 30, 2020.
    March 28, 2020 … Announce plans to scrap MetroRail and focus on the new MetroHeli flight system. Rail is so 2009!

  4. vindobonensis

    It has been pointed out to me that some may take offense with the “timeline” I presented. I would like to apologize to anyone who was offended. I merely wanted to point out in a humorous way what I thought has troubled MetroRail, since I’ve been driving by the parked trains for about two years now. I’m assuming that it’s mostly been planning problems at a high level in the organization, and do very much appreciate the hard work Capital Metro employees are putting in to get MetroRail running. Please keep up the good work!

  5. Frustrated

    Now that CapMet has notified FRA and set the opening date for 4-1-10 … April Fools!, the financial viability of this boondoggle needs to be re-evaluated. The trains hold 108 sitting and 92 standing. Assume all 20 routes (current schedules) are full and everyone pays full fare ($1.50/rider) for the 260 weekdays in a year – CapMet estimates 1700 to 2000 trips/day. That means an annual income from riders of $1.56M – $780K @ 2000 tpd.

    CapMet estimates an annual operating expense (2009 dollars) of $6.7M. That means that taxpayers, riders and non-riders, will foot 77% (88% @ 2000 tpd) of the operating cost of this insane project. That’s not to mention the $100M+ initial investment which doesn’t stand a snowballs chance in hell of ever being recapitalized. By the way, the rail operating budget was approximately 4% of the entire CapMetro 2009 budget. The fare would have to be almost $13.00 @ 2000 rpd to offset the operating costs.

    Only 24 jobs will be generated and the slow down for the gates and stations will raise the carbon footprint (diesel) of the trains to almost that of an equivalent number of cars. That doesn’t count the extra emissions from the cars that are required to wait as the trains pass the currently unsafe crossings or the delay and inconvenience (yes, bicycles too) to those drivers.

    There is NO WAY that this project makes fiscal or environmental sense. Unfortunately, all entities within CapMetro authority are stuck with this burden indefinitely. I don’t foresee any more outlying cities/towns voting to join in on the additional sales tax just to see it squandered by CapMetro.

    In case you’re not frustrated enough with the Red Line, maybe you will like the Green Line (to Elgin and points in-between) that CapMetro is planning as soon as the Red Line opens.

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