Planning Ahead: January Service Change

Well, we’re still tying up loose ends, fixing a sign here or there, and most certainly fielding hundreds of customer calls related to the August service change that went into effect this past Sunday. It was a pretty big collection of changes. The new Destinations Schedule book is now available for free download.

Even though there’s a few things to do to wrap up the August service change, we’re looking ahead to the next one taking place January 16, 2011. The proposal for January is posted online, and we’re hosting meetings about the changes beginning tomorrow and continuing through Sept. 14. The public hearing will be Sept. 20, and board will vote on the proposal Sept. 24. (Details behind the cut.)

The most talked-about change in the proposal is the elimination of Express routes 984 and 986. Although we are proposing eliminating 984 and 986, we will also add service (adding six trips) and improve the schedule of the 987, which serves most of the same destinations. The tradeoff is that depending on where you board and at what time, the 987 might add 10-15 minutes on your trip. We will invest the resources saved by making this change into providing additional needed service to/from Manor.

MetroExpress riders, we’ll be at the Leander Public Library tomorrow night to talk specifically about the proposed changes to 984, 986 and 987. Here are the details of that meeting and all the others.

If any neighborhood or community group is interested in hearing from Capital Metro, they can request a meeting by emailing feedback@capmetro.org or calling (512) 369-6201.

Proposed January Service Change Meetings:

Neighborhood Meetings

Leander Public Library, 1011 South Bagdad Rd.
Thursday, Aug. 26, 6:30-8pm

Public Meetings

Capital Metro Transit Store, 323 Congress
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 12:00-1:30pm
Served by downtown routes

Tech Ridge Park & Ride, 900 Center Ridge Dr.
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 4:30-6:00pm
Served by Routes 1L, 1M, 243, 392, 935

Capital Metro Transit Store, 323 Congress
Wednesday, Sept. 8, 12:00-1:30pm
Served by downtown routes

Austin Community College Northridge, 11928 Stonehollow Dr.
Wednesday, Sept. 8, 5:30-7:00pm
Served by Routes 1M, 142, 174

Leander Station, 800 N. Hwy 183
Monday, Sept. 13, 5:00-6:30pm
Served by Routes 983, 986, 987

Lakeline Station, 13701 Lyndhurst St.
Tuesday, Sept. 14, 4:30-6:00pm
Served by Routes 214, 383, 983, 984, 987

Public Hearing

Capital Metro Headquarters, 2910 E. 5th St.
Monday, Sept. 20, 11:00-12:00pm
Served by routes 17, 300

22 thoughts on “Planning Ahead: January Service Change

  1. Bob

    I ride 986 daily in bound and the red line out bound. The change does make sense. What also makes sense is to make substantial efforts to reduce the transit time of the red line by perhaps at least 10 minutes.

    Another effort that could be done to attract more riders is to improve the reliability and speed of the wifi. At present most riders cannot use it on a regular basis.

  2. Don Dickson

    Let me brighten your day with a few questions that have nothing to do with the discontinuation of the 984/986. LOL

    How much longer will the Brazos lines be detoured onto Congress Avenue? By the looks of Brazos Street, the detour will not be ended any time soon.

    Any consideration being given to leaving those routes on Congress permanently? How about detouring CARS onto Brazos Street when that construction is done?

    Any consideration being given to eliminating stops at right-turn intersections on Congress Avenue between Cesar Chavez and the Capitol?

    1. Misty

      The last we heard, the Brazos Street project is expected to be completed by early next year.

      I doubt we’ll leave those buses on Congress, there are already so many routes on that street. I’ll forward your questions to our Planning Dept and get back to you.

      1. Don Dickson

        BTW….if we were to push the CARS off Congress Avenue instead of the buses, it would be a lot easier for y’all to run a beautiful light rail system right through the heart of the city.

        But no, let’s make it easier for everyone to drive and move the transit system to the periphery.

    2. Misty

      Don,

      Chapter six of SerivcePlan2020 addresses some of the issues along Congress, such as bus stops and traffic flow. The report makes some recommendations to improve transit and traffic flow in the Downtown area. We continue to work with the City of Austin and other downtown stakeholders on this matter. These are long term plans that will require a lot of coordination and infrastructure improvements. http://www.capmetro.org/serviceplan2020/docs/Chapter%206%20-%20Capital%20Facilities%20Recommendations.pdf

      1. Erica

        In case you don’t want to read the full 32-page chapter 6 of ServicPlan2020 (not a total snoozer, but still…), the gist of the recommendations is to move most local bus service that currently runs on Colorado, Brazos and Congress over to Guadalupe and Lavaca. Instead of stopping at every block, the stops would be spaced every 3-5 blocks so that buses can get through downtown faster.

        Express bus service would move to Congress.

        The rationale is that with so many buses on Congress, making stops every block, it clogs up the whole street. The lanes are narrow and don’t allow for efficient passing by other buses, so if the bus in front of you is delayed at the stop (to load a wheelchair, for example), the bus you are on is also delayed.

        In order to do it, a lot of work needs to happen on Guadalupe and Lavaca: widening of sidewalks, ADA improvements, and bus stop upgrades. The city is involved, too, and their mobility bond package this fall includes major utility work on Lavaca/Guadalupe which needs to happen first.

        We hope we could make the move to Guadalupe/Lavaca at the same time MetroRapid comes online, 2012 or 2013.

      2. Don Dickson

        I can’t help but think that the recommendation to push the buses off Congress Avenue is half-bass-ackwards. Seems to me we ought to be pushing CARS aside to MAKE WAY for mass transit. Instead we’re pushing around the buses to make way for the cars!

        Only in Texas…. ((sigh))

  3. chrysrobyn

    The proposed changes to 243 strike me as the opposite of what it needs. Instead of removing service to 2/3rds of the Wells Branch neighborhood, the entire commercial park around Long Vista and Grand Avenue Parkway, every apartment on Shoreline and Merriltown (including what I believe is senior living on Merriltown), y’all keep service to the worst part of that route — the jaunt to Tech Ridge. Sure, frequency and ride time are part of the problem 243 faces, but I fail to see how this will increase ridership.

    1. Scott Wood

      Check out the ridership maps here: http://www.capmetro.org/serviceplan2020/route_profiles.asp

      142 daily boardings+alightings on the northern part, versus 673 on the southern part.

      Part of the low ridership may be due to a greater distance from the connection point at Tech Ridge. This data is from before the Red Line, but given its low overall ridership levels (barely double that of the 243!) the number of people connecting to it from the northern part of the 243 is probably not huge.

      The northern part has apartments, but looking at Google aerial maps, the southern part of the route has more. Service plan 2020 has the southern part of the 243 becoming route 343, and continuing south from Howard Station.

      Still, it’s never nice to see people lose service. Maybe some other destination could get higher ridership on the northern portion, though I don’t see an obvious answer.

      1. chrysrobyn

        Scott,
        First off, thanks for taking the time to look at my neighborhood. It feels like it’s been a long time.

        Second, I have a completely different approach than you (and the people who prepared the 2020 plan). I see the problem as the route is too terrible for north Wells Branch to use, and the fix is to repair that, instead of eliminating that. If you tell Google Maps that you’d like to take the bus from Long Vista & Wells Port and go to Burnet & Braker (a little more than 10 minutes drive time), you’ll see why so few in north Wells Branch will touch the bus — 70+ minutes. Honestly, if we can’t do any better than that, then cutting the 243 really is for the best.

        I don’t see the distance from Tech Ridge as the problem, I see the need to go there in the first place as the problem. I understand that some people want to take the 243 to Tech Ridge, but doing so ruins the service for people like me.

    2. Tom Thayer

      Moving the Congress Ave buses to Guadalupe/Lavaca is a bad idea. In the afternoon, Guadalupe is bumper to bumper, so I don’t know where the time savings will be. Congress seems to have less overall traffic. Also, Congress is the center of downtown, so folks have less walking distance to their destinations. Having stops every 3-5 blocks instead of every block will just confuse people who aren’t hardcore riders that don’t have the specific stops memorized. It will also decrease the visibility of bus stops and possible discourage bus use downtown.

  4. Mike

    I use the rail to get in to work, but rail will not get me home again, so I must use 984 to get home.
    Why not make the rail schedule better to get travelers to WANT to move to it rather than forcing them to.

    Honestly, the argument that you will save 230K by cutting 983/984 seems pretty comical when compared to the 60MILLION spent (so far) on the rail service they “compete” with.

    1. Misty

      Mike, we’re actually proposing to make adjustments to the rail schedule and offer more end to end trips for January.

      As for the savings from the 983/984, the resources would be reallocated to more trips on the 987 and much needed improvements for Manor commuters. ^MW

      1. Mike

        The point is that people migrate to better solutions.
        I like the train, it works well for me one way, but I must use the bus for the return because of inadequate scheduling.

        Make the trains better first, then look at removing buses.

        Most people just laugh when you attempt to justify cancellation on the basis of cost after that staggering cost of rail. It really does make CapMetro look silly. Right now its like dad buying a Hummer and selling his kids bike because it will save $50 on the cost of the Hummer.

        I really want rail to succeed in Austin, please help people want it rather than have it forced on them.

    2. Erica

      Mike,
      You’re making sense. We need to make the train a more attractive option if we want people to ride it. I agree.

      The train schedule adjustments planned for January will at least fix your specific afternoon dilemma. That 4:20 trip that currently terminates at Howard would be extended to Leander.

      The other options that are on the table for MetroRail in January are hourly midday service between downtown and Lakeline and then evening service on Fridays, maybe up to midnight. Also on the table is to decrease the cost of a MetroRail ticket.

      To really make it the most attractive choice it can be, we need 30 minute or better frequencies and weekend service, too. Those things require infrastructure investment that we aren’t able to do just yet.

      1. And that just takes us down the path of Tri-Rail; where hundreds of millions were spent double-tracking an unattractive route on the theory that more trains run more often would solve the problem that it didn’t go directly to any major activity centers.

        Guess how well it worked out for them?

        The problem isn’t the schedule; it’s the route.

  5. Misty

    Re:243 – Here is some of the reasoning behind the proposal. You should know the routing north of Wells Branch serves about 25% of existing riders yet accounts for 45% of the travel time.

    Here is the productivity by section:

    Area Riders Hours Riders/Hr
    Entire rte 386 26 15
    N of Wells Branch 44 12 7
    Wells Branch to TR 142 15 20

    Chrysrobyn, where exactly do you live and where are you trying to go? ^MW

    1. chrysrobyn

      Misty,
      I live near Emmett Parkway & Wells Port. I work at IBM. Google Maps says that’s 5 miles / 11 minutes if I drive (I think it’s 14 in rush hour), 70 minutes if I take 174, 1M and 243 (46 minutes is actually riding transit, 22 is waiting) or 50 minutes if I take the train (only 20 of which is actually riding transit, 22 is waiting). Several of my neighbors are IBMers, one works at NI, one goes to ACC and another attends the culinary institute.

      http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=11501+Burnet+Road,+Austin,+TX&daddr=Wells+Port+Dr+%26+Emmett+Pkwy,+Austin,+TX+78728&hl=en&geocode=FbXkzwEdk_os-ikZdq_GDcxEhjFW7JAeFwyZUg%3BFTSq0AEdQ48t-inxfgUOaM5EhjE5Ke0Jg19iuA&mra=ltm&dirflg=r&ttype=dep&date=08%2F31%2F10&time=1:04pm&noexp=0&noal=0&sort=&sll=30.405137,-97.712231&sspn=0.016674,0.018604&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=14&start=0

      I’ve seen the 2020 plan, and although I’m no expert on how to read it all, it seems as though there’s very low ridership on most of the northern edge of the 243. Eliminating service is one way to recognize a lack of interest, but it also expresses a lack of will to fix the underlying problem — if the underlying problem is actually recognized.

      I’d love to take the train. If I could do it in 30 minutes, we’d have something to talk about. If it were free, but on today’s schedule, I’d keep driving and I wouldn’t think twice about the train. Fix the schedule, then the cost has to improve — gas costs me (.35 gallon x $2.50 =) 88 cents per day. I put less than 10k miles on per year and can’t sell my car, so depreciation and wear & tear aren’t a factor. I’d probably take the train if I could do so on a reasonable schedule for less than $30/month (yeah, I commute over the Zone Boundary, that doesn’t make it worth twice the money). But then I have to worry about working late. What if I can’t leave work until 8pm? Then do I fall back on the 70 minute bus? Suddenly it’s not worth near $30/month because I can’t ride near as often and I have to be dead certain I can come home on time before I leave for work in the morning. That train needs to keep running until after 7, and throughout the day in case my daughter gets sick at school (Northbound Kramer isn’t served between 7:45 and 4:00 or after 7).

      Next time, please hit the “Reply” next to the name of the person you’re replying to instead of piling a new one at the bottom — helps keep the conversation organized.

  6. Don Dickson

    Here’s another special-event-detour-head-scratcher for y’all.

    Several streets are closed for today’s triathlon. The buses are detoured away from the event. The triathlon website suggests parking in any number of different garages, although I’m not sure how you would get to those which are on streets that are closed for the event.

    But to my surprise, South Congress Avenue is NOT closed. There are coned-off lanes for the triathlete bikers and for the cars, in both directions.

    Why are we detouring buses and not cars?

    More half-bass-ackwards transit policy and planning from Capital Metro and the City of Austin.

    1. Ed Easton

      Hi Don —

      The City’s Transportation Department has the final say on detours and lane closures for the myriad of events taking place nearly every weekend in Austin. Capital Metro works closely with them to coordinate our bus detours and accommodate the arrangements they’ve made with event organizers.

      In the case of the Austin Triathlon there was a full street closure on Congress Avenue north of the bridge and a partial street closure on Congress south of the river until noon. Trying to run service on a street that has curb lanes closed is problematic for us — people wishing to board the bus have to cross the “closed” lane from the bus stop to do so. So we avoided South Congress until the event was over and the lanes reopened.

  7. Pingback: A revised proposal for January changes to 984, 986 and 987 « Capital MetroBlog

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