MetroRail Special Event Weekend Service: Vote!

UPDATE 1/7/11: The poll has closed! Thanks for voting, scroll down to see the results. ^EM

Capital Metro’s budget includes providing three days of weekend MetroRail service during 2011. (The budget also includes four consecutive Friday-evening service days–stay tuned.) We came up with several potential dates, but we want to hear from you–vote on the dates you’d most like to see MetroRail service. The poll will be open for about two weeks.

72 thoughts on “MetroRail Special Event Weekend Service: Vote!

  1. Josh B

    I would like to see the train run full service (including evening) for the entire SXSW film and music festival. The train schedule should match the festival schedule to get people home after the main events.

    1. Brad

      That’s not a bad idea. Rather than doing one day of ACL and one day of SXSW, they could concentrate the three days they have in the budget and do Thursday, Friday and Saturday of SXSW. That seems to be the biggest event in Austin every year.

      1. Given that this train only serves people with a car who happen to live way out northwest, why on earth would you think it would be attractive for SXSW?

        ACL, MAYBE (a few people from Leander-ways come in for that).

        Pecan Street makes a lot more sense (and by a lot more I mean at least a little bit).

      2. ATX Red

        I’m all for the three days for SXSW! I live in the Quail Creek nieghborhood just SE of Metric and Kramer and it’s just a short walk to the Kramer station. That would be amazing to walk home after a long night downtown. (I both don’t need a car to get to the station and am not considered way out northwest on any map of Austin, M1EK) They would need to run them till at least 2:45 am to get everyone home though. I wonder if they’ll have that much insight…

      3. Brad

        As had already been mentioned, I’m not sure how much demand there would be for ACL since the downtown stop isn’t close enough to Zilker Park.

        I think they will get the most bang for the buck for the downtown events like Pecan Street and SxSW. I see your point that most people that go to SXSW are either from out of town, which means they will stay downtown, or they already live central.

        Maybe events like Pecan Street or the Austin Marathon (i know this wasn’t a choice) would attract more family oriented riders, which might be Cap Metro’s best bet for a larger ridership.

      4. ACL is one of the few events for which shuttling is obviously not (currently, even) a disqualification. The average suburbanite already drives downtown, then waits for a shuttlebus to get to the concert; driving to a train station, riding the train, and then shuttling to get to the concert doesn’t seem like that hard of a sell.

        I just don’t think there’s THAT many people from Leander and Cedar Park and Round Rock going to ACL. Maybe enough to fill a train or two I guess.

    1. JR

      Can you suggest how to pay for every weekend service? It’s easy to ask for things without thinking of how it’s going to happen. That’s no joke.

    2. Erik

      The bigger question is, how much would these three weekends cost? How many trips per day etc.

      With that being said, I’ve got an excellent idea: CEO Watson can contribute 75k from her 228k pre-bonus salary towards CM’s operating budget. If she’s awarded her performance bonus she’ll still be pulling in 180k. President Obama makes only 2.2x more than that/yr. C’mon, Linda.

      1. JohnC

        Erik whoa whoops I guess you’ve confused the City Manager Mark Ott, who makes upwards $250K a year, with the Mayor. Maybe he could chip in.

  2. Johnny

    Q: Which 3 weekends (or weekdays) do I (or virtually any other Austinite) have use for the pitiful CapMetro East Austin to Leander Express Train?

    A: None of them. I love trains and would love to see viable commuter rail in Austin. However the Red Line is NOT it. How about shutting it down to minimize the current budgetary drain until an expansion of service area can offer a train system with realistic usability? Thanks for asking.

  3. Will

    I WON’T be Riding METROFail Rail, and will be boycotting all taxable goods in the CMTA Service area effective Jan 16, 2011. You need to have the neither option or the I won’t be using MetroRail in your surveys. Another flawed survey done by Capital Metro.

    I agree with the previous poser (Johnny) as in regards to shutting it down at least temporary until you have all of the financial means to pay for it. As long is it not been paid for by my tax dollars or bus fare. However I think trains are nothing but waste of money, and not needed due to Texas infrastructure. Fix your bus stop accessablity, bus routes, and have all your buses in good repair. Really not hard to do.

  4. DK

    SXSW and Pecan St. Festival probably make a lot more sense than ACL b/c they’re actually located downtown. If it were offered throughout SXSW with plenty of public awareness I’d bet you might even see some northbound riders heading up to the Domain and maybe even crestview (blackstar coop rocks).

    I would guess that additional shuttles from metrorail stations to ACL would mostly poach riders from the regular shuttle service rather than draw new ones.

    Also for what it’s worth, I live near the Kramer stop and would quite literally use the train every weekend for afternoon and evening trips.

  5. winky

    Will – why do sour pusses like you come on and throw little tantrums on websites? Why not find some website that makes you happy?

    I like Pecan street festivals. They are right by the train station, unlike ACL and SXSW music (is it the music or the film we are voting on)?

    1. Will

      Winky Is that the best you can do? A personal attack. Since when is a suggestion a tantrum. Do you work for Capital Metro? I am clueless. I was just explaining a simple fact and opinon, the fact that the website survey doesn’t not have a neither option. For opinon agreeing to Johnny’s comment partially. Read the whole comments before posting please.

      Tell me do you work for CMTA, APTA, Envision, or Downtown Austin Alliance? I am waiting to know.

      In closing this is not about finding a favorite website, it is about tax dollars, and wasteful spending. I hate having to print out 1040s every April but I am legally obligated to as long as I receive income of any sort.

  6. Rwill

    The Red line is good it’s the schedule and feeder lines that are bad. 2.8 billion is enough to make it a moneymaker. Commuter Rail is making money in Florida and they run all hours of the day and evenings they also have good feeder lines. Fix that and you make money, and M1EK I don’t want to debate this the Florida line is gaining riders and making money. They had the same growing pains We can’t live in the stone age and not have commuter rail. I am sick and tired of the arguments worrying how to pay this we are in the 20th century and we need good commuter transportation just like Europe, and China. Cut back on the Mayors Police Chief and School superintendent pay which is more than the President of the United States.

  7. Scott Wood

    Commuter rail is not “making money” in Florida. Tri-rail has a farebox recovery ratio of about 21% (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2009-06-01/news/0905310159_1_tri-rail-fares-ridership). It’s rare for public transportation anywhere to “make money” in the age of cheap driving.

    Does the Red Line schedule suck? Yeah. But if you can’t get good ridership on *commuter* rail during peak *commuter* hours, midday/night/weekend isn’t going to save you.

  8. RWILL

    Scott the article you quote does not say it’s losing money this is what it says. By the way it was about a fare increase.

    “It’s still a very good deal,” said Tri-Rail spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold. “In 1995, we ran 24 trains a day. We’ve since doubled our service. You get more service, you expect to pay more for it.”

    Based on your article “We’ve since doubled our service” you don’t do that if your losing money.

    1. Scott Wood

      Look up what farebox recovery ratio means. Yes, the article is about a fare increase, and it says that this increase will bring them to a 21% recovery ratio — meaning that 79% of the operations costs (not even counting capital costs) are subsidized.

      And yes, you might very well increase service under such circumstances. This isn’t a private business. It’s subsidized for a good reason — it provides a public benefit which is competing with subsidized driving. The question is whether using that money for other public transit investments could provide more of a public benefit.

      1. Erik

        Speaking of Recovery Ratios, Portland’s TriMet in FY1999 had operations reimbursement at 27.4% bus and 33% rail. FY2010 had this at 28.1% and 51.6%, respectively.

      2. Erik

        Also note that in the same period their bus ridership didn’t change very much (44.7 to 45.4 mil/yr) compared to their rail ridership, which went from 14.8 to 32 mil/yr.

  9. RWILL

    Again it takes money to make money. Our transportation system is years behind many countries if you take the viewpoint that every venture has to make a massive profit and nothing is done for the public good we are all in big trouble. Trirail is doing great for a city it’s size and design. They are not a New York or a Chicago but they have a large ridership. We pay taxes for services not to make people rich. Cap Metro is too profit base and will fail unless the rail route, feeder lines, and schedule is expanded.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_commuter_rail_systems_by_ridership

  10. Pingback: MetroBlog year in review « Capital MetroBlog

  11. J Ascher

    Capital Metro should also consider running train service for UT game days along with the feeder routes from MLK and downtown stations.

  12. mark

    I really don’t think the citizens of Leander are crucial to any of the festivals. Why not admit the truth and shut down the train before wasting anymore tax money

    1. Will

      AMEN!

      Mark that is what I have been trying to tell Capital Metro For Years!!! It is like Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz, My friends all drive horsees. I had the pleasure to sing that song before the board.

      The need to sell the train to the Mayor of Leander!!!! and to a guy that goes by the name Choo Choo Walker!!!! Have them pay for it!!!! Winky could pay for it, he admitted he works for CapMetro. I think his real name starts with an R and ends with an O. or was that Start with a J and end with an N.

  13. Scheleen

    It makes much more sense to provide more than one day for SXSW than any days for ACL, inmo. And I’m assuming that IF it runs NYE, the train would at LEAST run until 1:00 a.m., or even 2:00 a.m.?

    1. Again, this service is limited 99% to those who live in Leander and Cedar Park (or Round Rock) and have a car. How are out-of-towners here for SXSW possibly going to benefit? And the locals who go to SXSW aren’t coming from the burbs.

      1. SBH

        To those who think no one in North Austin goes to events like SXSW and ACL – you couldn’t be more wrong or geographically biased!

        I’ve been every year for the past 7, along with many of my friends who live on this side of town. Just because we can’t afford to pay $275 a square foot for our homes, doesn’t mean we don’t love all that downtown, central Austin and the 78704 have to offer, including ACL, SXSW, Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, outdoors activities, etc…!

        And I definitely agree with those along the route who say they would use would use it much more if there were evening and weekends hours. I know I would!

      2. Scott Wood

        Erik, looking at Google Maps I see a few hotels within 3/4 mi of a rail stop other than Downtown.

        Highland Station has Habitat Suites under 1/2 mi, and a couple more right around 3/4 (less if you cut through the mall parking lot).

        MLK has Ace Motel a little over 1/2 mi away.

        Though, for such events (and the “party” holidays), I’d focus on running buses later into the night (not just the limited Night Owl system), and more often. And advertise any special increase in service far in advance so people can plan around it.

      3. Scott, try the traditional 1/4 mile instead. Out of towners aren’t going to enjoy 3/4 of a mile walk along a sketchy (for Austin) stretch of 290/Airport/whatever.

  14. Robyn

    I voted sxsw & acl for sure. I live only about 2 miles from the Kramer Ln station, but since I’m self employed & work mainly from home I haven’t had occasion to use the rail service yet. I think it’s a great service, but I’d like to see it running nights & weekends on a regular basis, not just for special events as listed above. I’d probably use it several times a week if that was the case to go to various downtown events. For now, I’m stuck with taking the bus or driving & dealing with parking, traffic etc (which I HATE doing). I realize it was created for commuters but Austin is such an active town. There is always something going on nights & weekends. Even a limited service during those times would be really helpful. Hopefully we’ll see that happening in the near future.

  15. Carlos

    I would like to see the train have a schedule that is not just a commuter schedule. I work shorter hours (10am-3pm, 8pm-midnight, etc) and would like to take it downtown sometimes, but I have absolutely no use for the schedule they currently have. There is no train between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm going southbound. Completely useless if I need to be downtown at noon.

    1. RWILL

      Expand to Leander during those hours Friday evening and also weekend. I would even say expand schedule and route to Liberty Hill

      1. Erik

        Liberty Hill? Even if 5% of the population up there used the Red Line, which won’t happen, you’re looking at 75 additional passengers per day. Snore. If any city close to Leander should get an expansion it’ll be Round Rock. Heard of Dell?

      2. RWILL

        Have you tried getting on the tollway at 7:45 in the morning from 2243 and seen the traffic from north of Leander and the line getting on the highway??

      3. RWILL

        One more thing Eric if the schedule is bad why would people ride it. Even the new January schedule leaves out Leander. Again we can’t live in the stone ages we need Rail. The head of Cap Metro is making really big bucks more than the President, She needs to start making CapMetro Rail a commuter line people will take and that means Good Schedules and feederlines. The tollway is overpriced there needs to be a alternative.

    2. Erik

      Linda’s not making more than Obama, RWILL. And cry me a river w/ that distant-suburban guilt-trip. It shouldn’t be a top priority to provide a first-class transportation system to people outside of the urban center. Get it right in the city first, then cater to the people 40 miles out.

      1. RWILL

        Then I guess Austin does not need our sales taxes and our payments to Cap Metro Rail which we pay for every year. Erik do you work for Cap Metro?

  16. REklund

    Haven’t we seen enough empty trains yet? How about we sell the empty trains to some other sucker city and shut the puppy down and cut our losses? Oh, and send the “planners” that thought this rube was a good idea back to the East Coast big cities where these things might make a little more sense.

  17. cindy t eckart

    The train should run on Capitol Sing A Long Night
    Halloween when it falls on a weekend
    and on weekends during the summer

  18. Roger

    I’ve rode the train consistently for the first 4 months of it’s operation. It’s not a time saver. It hassle saver. Aggressive drivers, parking, congestion and avoiding these all benefits Austin. But having Cap Metro “kinda sorta” get into rail was a huge miscalculation. In order to get “buy in to mass transit the trains should have been running non stop. Rail is massively subsidized even in the best markets. If you’re gonna lose money at least make the case to the community of why you spent the dough. It doesn’t help giving free rides to the majority of the riders on a schedule that isn’t convenient for most people. And not having any way to effectively collect fares other than an honor system is laughable. I understand the sentiment to want to pull the plug and not spend any more money, but not after Cap Metro makes a real effort to gain support for the service. And they won’t get that support by half –bleeping– the service.

    1. Roger, running a train every minute all day long that still doesn’t go anywhere worth going is just lighting money on fire for the hell of it. These DMUs can never run to UT or the Capitol or run through the parts of downtown office workers actually want to go to.

      We had a good plan in 2000 which Cap Metro killed – THAT plan would have been worth sticking with if early ridership was disappointing. This isn’t that plan.

      1. Erik

        As long as the “feeders” are busses, this isn’t a rail system worth sticking with. Light rail, all the way. The MAX line along N. Interstate Ave in PDX reminded me of what Lamar could’ve become. Thanks, CM.

      2. RWILL, you’re wrong; commuter rail has only worked when laid on top of a mature urban rail system (in areas where a lot of people have already decided to ride trains, in other words) – and the urban rail system is the backbone, not mere ‘feeders’.

        Capital Metro’s line is squatting on half of the only slam-dunk urban rail line possible in this city. And the city’s proposal (a deeply flawed but at least redeemable attempt to get SOMEthing built in the meantime) is being starved of attention, money, and brainpower thanks to the continuing effort to feed the Red Line.

      3. Erik

        Oh right, this same “commuter rail” that you want to run at all hours of the day/night and on weekends? Everyone wants it to be more than it can be. MetroRail Red Line is not CalTrain and never can be.

  19. Bryan

    The trains and shuttles should be offered for UT football games. That would generate good income, much of which would be from folks who ordinarily wouldn’t ride CapMetro.

  20. Roger

    Absolutely Bryan. Even if you’re not going to the game. Having trains run on football weekends allows people to get to downtown, have dinner, hear music or see a show without having to worry about parking and congestion caused by the 125,000 people attending the game. I can’t tell you how many people I know that stay away from Austin on football weekends because of the hassle finding parking.

  21. Z

    3 weekend days this year are just a waste. This thing should be running every Friday and Saturday night with a last pickup downtown at midnight. People need to get used to riding on a regular basis especially now that gas is pushing to the $3 per gallon mark again.

    1. RWILL

      Z I agree it should run every Friday night and Saturday Night even from Leander. Expand weekday and weekend hours and feeder lines is the answer anything else is a waste and will fail. By the way CapMetro we here in Leander pay 1 million dollars a year we should not be shortchanged on Rail schedules

      1. Erik

        Shortchanged? What about actual Austinites? OK I’ll take the bait: that (supposed) $1 million adds up to $2700/day, divided by the 25k population that’s a paltry .10¢ per resident/day. You’re getting your money’s worth, and probably more than you’re owed.

  22. Beth Ann

    Lots of interesting comments. Just some thoughts

    1. While the Red Line does serve folks from Leander (is a part of Cap Metro), Cedar Park, and Round Rock, let’s not overlook the fact that the Lakeline Station is in Austin. My neighborhood, Avery Ranch just north of the station is in Austin. All of Austin is with/in the Metro service area.

    2. Cap Metro has a set amount of money it can spend and has suffered from the downturn in the economy like most public entities. It would be to great to run the trains late at night and during the weekends, but if you don’t have the money to reduce train travel times during the peak hour commute when the most ppl would benefit from the service, how do you justify running it during the weekend? BTW – if someone would donate the money to cover the service on the weekend (I think about $10,000 to run every hour for 12 hours) I’m sure Cap Metro would consider the possibility.

    3. Trains during UT games. Cap Metro considered this but the ticket cost (vaguely remember $40), and the travel time due to shuttles was about 3x what it would take in car. The possibility of a bad experience (think what happened in Dallas when everyone wanted to ride during same short time frame.) and cost convinced Metro not to approve this expenditure. It was a good decision.

    4. Linda Watson does not make more than the President. Even the previous Metro President/CEOs didn’t make more than the President. Check the minutes from the meeting where she was hired. It was announced publicly.

    6. Can we find common ground w/ suburban/rural transit supporters? We can agree to disagree, but might accomplish more working together.

    5. If you support rail consider attending public meetings. I know time is an issue, but consider this – these hearing are generally filled w/ folks telling the board how rail is taking away funding from their bus service or how they shouldn’t have to pay to use Cap Metro service. Sometimes to turn the tide it requires speaking up. I’ve only experienced the anti-road ppl. Yet those folks rarely come out to support rail or transit when it matters most – when it’s time for Cap Metro to make decisions that will make the authority more financially secure.

    And if you read all that . . . thanks for your time!

    1. RWILL

      I am not here to debate salary Linda makes 256,000 verses The President of the United States earns $400,000 a year. The vice president’s annual salary is $221,100. OK I was wrong she makes more than the VP of the United States . All I am saying is that it takes money to make money.Halfway measures will not work By the way what is the budget for Cap Metro this year?

    2. We’ve discussed this on twitter. The logical catchment area of the Lakeline station includes a lot more square footage of Cedar Park than it does Austin. People aren’t going to drive back away from downtown a couple miles to take the train.

      The fact is that this service provides most of its paltry benefits to residents of Leander (who pay taxes), and Cedar Park and Round Rock (who do not). Howard station has the same issue – on the very edges of our city limits and thus likely not picking up many passengers from Austin.

  23. ChrisF

    Every weekend –
    Let’s get serious about drunk driving.
    Why not run MetroRail on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm to 3am. How many drunk drivers would be taken off the road?
    How great would it be to hop on the rail Saturday evening, have a great dinner and a few cocktails downtown, then ride back home and have a friend or family member pick you up at the station near your home?
    Of course MetroRail doesn’t pay for itself but it is a good start toward having real transportation infrastructure in our growing city.
    I know we have issues sharing the rail at night with the freight carriers but I think it could be worked out.

    1. Erik

      Surely you can’t be serious about people going downtown for dinner/drinks via rail, only to have their friends/family pick them up between 10p and 3a?

      I don’t disagree with you about taking drunk drivers off the road, but the existing bus infrastructure offers a wider service range in comparison — yet few people take advantage. People just need to get over their b.s. preconceptions of riding a bus. It’s going to get you closer to your house than commuter rail w/ limited stops in the metro area. Sure, it’s a little slower and not as fancypants, but it’s cheaper to operate for CM and it’s more mature of a network than the non-existent light-rail you’re actually looking for.

  24. Pingback: Announcing: MetroRail Friday evening and special event service dates « Capital MetroBlog

  25. The Wilson family

    We reside in Leander and while i’ve only used this train twice so far ( as the limited service does not meet our recreational needs ) We will defenatly be using these extra services & are incouraging friends to do likewise, being able to travel to the Domain or Downtown for any festival, a meal, a show or just a few drinks & not worrying about driving or DWI drivers will be fantastic oppotunity we will not miss.

    As the service now runs every hour Mon / Friday I will be using this a few times per month every month to go Downtown to see midweek Champs league/EPL Soccer games in downtown bars while enjoying a few drinkies, hurrah.

    Thanks Cap Metro.

  26. The Wilson family

    PS, We also would like a weekend service into downtown from Leander, with the last train back @ 2am or 2.30amor 3am etc

    Our friends & ourselves would go to d’town more often if this service was available.

    Please consider it, Thanks again Mike.

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