Last week, President/CEO Linda S. Watson was the keynote speaker for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Breakfast held at the Austin Hilton’s Finn & Porter Restaurant. In her conversational style, President Watson talked about her personal experiences in deciding to come to Austin and about her new role at Capital Metro. As a Texan, she is so glad to be back in one of the country’s number one cities for doing business and enjoying an excellent quality of life. President Watson answered questions in an Oprah-style interview moderated by Celia Israel, GAHCC Secretary. The conversation related to her vision for the future of Austin, the future of Capital Metro and how she planned to execute her new priorities as Capital Metro president/CEO.
Projected behind her was a continuous audiovisual loop showing Capital Metro’s many services—MetroBus, MetroRail, MetroAccess and the upcoming MetroRapid. As Watson explained, Capital Metro is focused on building trust and credibility in the community by doing the right thing and doing it in the right way. The MetroRail train arrived at the Downtown Station while she was speaking (what timing), and she mentioned the increase in rail ridership since MetroRail service expanded in January. MetroRail is averaging between 1,100 and 1,200 trips each day. The expanded hours of service makes the train more visible and available to potential riders.
A question from the audience prompted an explanation on plans for expansion and how the entire rail and bus system need to work together to provide a variety of modes of transportation. She mentioned that staff is working in partnership with the City of Austin to make sure transportation plans are executed jointly. She also thanked the Capital Metro Board of Directors for being tough and making the tough decisions to move Capital Metro forward during some challenging economic conditions.
Linda mentioned that one of her main priorities was to work diligently on improving employee relations. She indicated that conversations with the labor union leadership with the assistance of a federal mediator were progressing well. She is encouraged that a positive relationship between union leadership and management is being built by having honest dialogue.
She also mentioned that she was focused on strengthening community partnerships. She was grateful for the support GAHCC has provided her and for the opportunity to continue to build the positive relationship she has with GAHCC and all of its members.
The GAHCC leadership thanked Linda for the journey she has embarked upon to make the City of Austin and, specifically, Capital Metro, one of the transit leaders in the country.
Ed. note: Dr. Dianne Mendoza is the vice president of Business & Community Development at Capital Metro.