MetroRail Rider Profile: Dave Sullivan

As a member of the Austin City Planning Commission, Dave Sullivan has a very unique perspective from the train. He is also a cycling enthusiast who uses the train to ride around town.

“I don’t know why more people don’t use MetroRail. It’s a convenient, ideal way to travel,” Dave said. You avoid the hassles on the roads, he said. He bikes 2 miles from near Enfield and MoPac to the Convention Center 3 – 4 mornings a week to catch the 6:41 to Kramer Station, then one mile from there to the Pickle Research Campus.  In the evening he bikes home 10 miles.  Occasionally he does the reverse. Sometimes he bikes both ways!

There are also many things that one can do whilst on the train. “You can work on the train; I see lots of people with their laptops out.”

Eventually, “there will be much more residential and retail than there is now,” Dave said. This will cause ridership to rise as more people have more places to go.

Dave also enjoys getting to meet new people who are riding the train.

He, like many others, wishes there was more service, especially more reverse commute trains that go all the way to Leander.

He sees a future with weekend service, too. “During South by Southwest people could stay at hotels farther north and then run into downtown,” he said.

8 thoughts on “MetroRail Rider Profile: Dave Sullivan

  1. While I have great respect for Dave as a friend and public official, he’s engaging in a combination of wishful thinking and political activity here. The fact is that residential and retail have never, not even one time, in this country, ever, not even once, rescued a rail line that didn’t go where people wanted to go from the getgo.

    Once again from Christof Spieler (now a board member at Metro in Houston):

    “Absent other options (and local bus is not an option) they will drive. That’s where rail comes in. We can build it, as some have suggested, in places where people don’t want to live right now in hopes that people will want to live there. Or we can build it where people already are, and where more people are coming, to take some of that load. We’ve learned from Main that people will ride rail if it goes where they want to go. We’ve also learned that dense development is most likely to occur in places that are already dense. Rail isn’t causing density — the density is coming anyway. Rail, done right, is a way to deal with the traffic that density brings.”

    As for why more people don’t ride it, it’s because most people who currently drive don’t want to switch to a three or four seat commute (bike + train + bus + bike). The fact that Capital Metro has had to emphasize bicycling so much in response to this rail line is a bug, not a feature.

  2. Kelly

    I agree with everything Dave says. Bike/Bus(Train) combo is awesome! You get an extra workout before work, I think its great it wakes me up and I can get right to work, no coffee needed! Looking Forward to more frequent service in the future! Go Cap Metro!

  3. Walter

    Anyone else noticing how much more crowded the train has been in the last month or so? Maybe its UT students and faculty? It used to be that I always had a set of seats to myself but now I almost always have to share a and once on the way home I had to stand for part of the way. Maybe crowded isn’t the right word, but “busy”? Will be interesting to see a ridership number for September from Capital Metro when it comes out.

    1. Adam

      Walter, we’ve noticed the same thing. Incidentally, we just received the numbers from August. MetroRail had 19,193 boardings, or about 872 per day.

  4. ky

    You guys promised 2k a day, so for perspective you are still short over 1100 per day, so stop the party. I would also like to point out that us, the tax payer, are subsidizing our dear “DAVE” portrayed here to the tune of about $35,000 a year, so once again, even if the RedLine was having successful ridership it is a total financial bust for generations of Austinites.

  5. Kristi

    I will ride it occasionally however it just doesn’t work for me going both ways. It is great in the morning, I leave 10 minutes earlier than I need to and I get there on time for an 8am start up. However, I leave at 4:30pm. So, either I leave earlier and consequently have to come in earlier to make the 4:20 train or I stay at work until the 4:50 train. With twins to get home to, staying away from home to make an inconvenient train schedule is not worth the money saved.

  6. Rightthingtodo TX

    i’m not going to speak to the limitations on reach. i trust the a future solution is to build spurs off the main red line or build additional lines to make it more possible for folks to get on a train in the morning for work and then back in the evening without extra biking, bussing, driving. ultimately though building more roads is not going to solve the traffic issue…making the train viable is.

    i agree that biking has support from the city and capmetro but it appears that’s only lip service. seriously…only two bike racks per train? not sure what you’d call it…biker’s privilege…but bikers are literally taking over the trains and something needs to be done. the areas in front of the doors immediately become congested and movement is limited. it’s frustrating for non bikers when there’s no room to move. bikers take the handicapped seats across meaning one person and one bike are taking up 3 seats. more bike space is needed and/or policing of use of non-bike space is needed.

    also put a bar above people’s heads. as ridership grows and folks stand in the back of the train, the grip on the back of seats isn’t helpful in providing balance for people standing.

    1. There’s no way to build spurs off the Red Line that go anywhere worthwhile. How many times do I have to say this before people get it? We will never see these DMU vehicles parking right in front of UT – they can’t make the turns, and nobody wants an idling diesel train next to that many pedestrians. And the Red Line can’t be converted to true light rail without basically tearing it up and starting over.

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