Raising the bar on service at 2,700+ bus stops

There have been a number of news stories this week about an initiative to discourage tobacco use at Capital Metro bus stops. The Capital Metro board yesterday adopted a revision to our Tobacco Free Facilities policy to include all 2,700+ bus stops (park & rides, transit centers and MetroRail stations are already tobacco free). Beginning March 1, 2012, we’re asking people to kindly not use tobacco products within 15 feet of a bus stop.

It’s great news, and we’re excited to promote healthier air and cleaner bus stops for our riders by discouraging tobacco use. But, the most exciting part of the new signage project for riders has flown under the radar: incredible new methods for getting next scheduled bus information, specific to every single bus stop in the system.

Riders will begin to see a sign like this at their bus stops beginning in December. The sign will be in addition to the current bus route signs at stops.

Check out the new sign that will be gracing your bus stop in the new year. Note that the top 1/5 or so of the sign is the “No tobacco use within 15 feet” message. And the remaining 4/5 of the sign outlines how one can use his phone four different ways to get schedule information by stop.

Here’s how it works: every bus stop in the system has a unique ID number.  The bus stop at 11th and Guadalupe is #504, for example. With your phone and that ID number, you can:

  1. Text: Text the bus stop ID number to DadnabTM at (512) 981-6221, and receive a reply text with the next scheduled bus arrival times for the buses that serve that stop.
  2.  Scan the QR Code: Scan the square barcode on the sign using a QR reader app (many free readers are available from your phone’s apps marketplace), and next bus times and a route map will be displayed on your smartphone.
  3. Open our mobile site: Open capmetro.org/stopid/ from your phone and input your bus stop ID number to pull up a mobile-friendly website with the next bus arrivals.   
  4. Call the Go Line at 512-474-1200. Use the automated voice system 24 hours/day or talk to a real person weekdays, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on weekends, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This new information method has been in the works for a number of years, but we haven’t had the funding available before to implement it across the system. Because of our commitment to reduce secondhand smoke at bus stops, we are able to leverage federal grant funding to implement the signage. The entire cost of the signage, hardware and installation (about $230K) will be paid for through a grant from the city of Austin under the national Communities Putting Prevention to Work. Later in FY2012, Capital Metro will use additional local funding to incorporate Braille on the signs, too, greatly expanding the usability of our system for riders with visual impairments.

There are a ton of other benefits, too. First off, we begin to rack up the savings with the very first service change, because the signs will not need to be updated when routes or frequencies change. Over 5 years, we could save up to $100,000 on materials alone! Additionally, the signs are slated for installation at 100 percent of Capital Metro bus stops. Currently, schedule information is available at fewer than 50 percent of bus stops.

Riders may begin to notice the new signs at their bus stops beginning in December, and we expect the signs to be 100 percent installed by the end of February.

You might be thinking, what if you don’t have a phone? No worries. Although a 2010 survey of Capital Metro riders found that 80 percent carry a cell phone when they ride, Capital Metro will continue to provide free route brochures and system maps onboard the bus, and for $3, customers can purchase the newest edition of Destinations, the official Capital Metro schedule book.

We invite you to test out the various information options featured on the sign and let us know what you think.

 

22 thoughts on “Raising the bar on service at 2,700+ bus stops

  1. Peter Fazziola

    No printed schedules at bus stops? This is a big step backward! Right now, for example, at 21St and Guadalupe I can see the schedule for #1, #101, #5 and #19–all of which can take me downtown. Why do away with that?

    I just hope CapMetro will have enough staff on hand to handle phone calls in a timely manner. But since the agency often shows little regard for the riding public, I doubt this will be the case.

    In fact, I predict that people will board the first bus that comes along and ask the driver, “Do you know when # *** will get here?” slowing service even more.

  2. Bill Eastman

    Why isn’t Google Maps mentioned as a way to get the schedule? It uses the GPS in the phone, you put in where you are going and it not only tells you what time the bus comes, but all the connections including time you get off one bus and time the next bus is scheduled to arrive. IF only this can be made REAL TIME somehow, with GPS on bus so it will know if the bus is running late.

    1. Will

      Well Bill it is because Capital Metro believes in Trademark infringement. Dabnab has an illegal and unjust monopoly on Capital Metro services. This conflict of interest by Capital Metro needs to be abated at once. I will forward this information to Google and their legal department, and also other transit map providers that I can find.

      1. Matt

        Will, are you trying to troll on this site, or are you really ignorant? With google, you _can_ get the schedules for the various buses and stops. The exact same information you can get through Dadnab. There is no monopoly.

        1. Will

          No Matt, you are the one that is ignorant. There is this law called Patent Law and it deals with trademarks. Matt in what capacity do you work for Capital Metro? Are you a light rail operator in NaziTah opps I meant Utah the state of a big cult.

          Since dabnab is trademarked they are a service provider and a business in which they are subjucted to the Lanham Act and the Sherman Anti Trust Act of 1890, as amended. Under Federal Trade regulations, Capital Metro has to mention the other providers on the bus stop and cannot grant exclusive use to just one private corporation, partnership, or LLC. Thus showing dabnab, instead of other providers can constitute a monopoly. If the QR code is provided by another service provider than that would be a Duopoly. There is a case going forward at the Federal Trade Commission regarding Sprint against AT&T and the T-mobile. Federal Court greenlights the blocking of the merger between AT&T and T-mobile and set the trial date for Feb 13, 2012. The new signs violate the Sherman Act and all it takes is for Google to file suit against Capital Metro to get this thing started.

          If I am to be called ignorant, you are to be called someone with illiteracy. So why don’t you use google before making such statements.

          As far as being a troll on this site. No I am not a troll. A troll clearly cannot back up his or her claims and is on here just to be here.

          Ok Matt, do your research and give me what you got. To have Capital Metro to keep the signs with the timepoints would not throw the communites in the digital divide under the bus. Like the Marketing Manager wants to do.

          1. Matt

            Patent law deals with, surprise surprise, patents. Trademark law deals with trademarks (another, but completely separate form, of intellectual property).

            The Lanham act regulates trademarks, this is true, but for the purposes of protecting the trademark holder, not limiting them. It, for instance, prevents others from infringing on Dadnab’s (and it’s Dadnab, not Dabnab) trademark. It doesn’t keep Dadnab from using their own trademark, or letting a partner use it (otherwise there would be no point to getting a trademark).

            You’re completely confusing trademark protections and anti-trust/mergers of corporations. Dadnab and Cap Metro aren’t merging, there is no monopoly being created. Especially since there is no exclusive provider of the information in question (as I mentioned, you can already get the exact same information from google already).

            Under your logic, the local 7-eleven couldn’t have a coke machine (unless they also have a pepsi, RC-cola, etc. machines as well), as the coke machine has the coca-cola sign(and TM mark) on it.

        2. Will

          Actually there is case law for this American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. v. Visa U.S.A. Inc. et al 1:2004cv08967 for starters. Also there is this one case in which American Express sued HE Butt Grocery Company in 1999 which required them to accept American Express cards in addition to the other card companies Visa, Mastercard, etc.

          Also not once did I see a Coke Machine outside a 7-Eleven. But I did see that 7-Eleven offered Coke, Pepsi, RC, 7-Up, Dr. Pepper among others.

          The fast food industry however, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell serve Pepsi because they are actually a subsidary of Pepsi Cola no longer in whole due to a spin off as YUM! Brands but Pepsi does own a substainsal share. Capital Metro does not own a substainsal share of Dadnab. Since both Dadnab and Google are trademarked they are both competitors.

          Now since when do you go into a resturant that ONLY accepts Visa?

          Not here in the United States.

          Why do you think Visa commercials no longer say and they don’t take American Express? Antitrust litigation.

          Visa and American Express did not merge with resturants and stores did they? If so, I missed it.

          As far as outside or inside vending machines are concerned they must be given an oppurtunity to compete that is if the company is not owned by the same.

          Capital Metro is not clearly giving Google an oppurtunity to compete through it’s advertising. Sprint and Verzion do provide services parallel to each other, and so does Dadnab.

          1. Walt

            Will you might have a more plausible argument if you could show that Google provides a free TEXT MESSAGE based trip planning service, as Dadnab does. Or that they can provide TEXT MESSAGE based scheduled times. As far as I can tell Dadnab is unique in this regard, which blows a hole in your competition argument.

            Dadnab is also free to users and to Capital Metro, so its inclusion on the sign seems to me to be more of a public service than the nefarious Capital Metro plot you imagine.

          2. Matt

            Now you’re just throwing stuff against the wall to see what will stick.

            >>Also not once did I see a Coke Machine outside a 7-Eleven.
            In the seven eleven. Fountain drink machines. There, and many other places/restaurants, you’ll see, for instance, Pepsi being served (along with it’s associated, trademarked sign) with no Coke being available (or vice versa). And this is without any question of common ownership (for instance, Rudy’s).

            >>Since both Dadnab and Google are trademarked they are both competitors.
            Trademarking is completely independent of market competition. Two companies could be competitors with neither holding any trademarks (though that would be rare).

            >>Now since when do you go into a resturant that ONLY accepts Visa?
            I’ve been to various places that, for instance, don’t accept Discover cards. And there are still merchants that don’t accept American express (source: wikipedia).

            >>As far as outside or inside vending machines are concerned they must be given an oppurtunity to compete that is if the company is not owned by the same.
            Common ownership introduces _more_ restrictions on trade, not less. That’s the whole point of anti-trust law. Microsoft had restrictions placed on them in how they could use/expose/distributed Internet Explorer because it was their product.

          3. Will

            Walt here it is:

            http://www.transitchicago.com/riding_cta/how_to_guides/bustrackerlookup_gmaps.aspx

            Google offers the same service as Dadnab. So the competition argument exists.

            Matt:

            American Express is always fighting the other major card companies on Anti Trust cases. It takes up a lot of resources and time in Anti Trust cases. We can both agree that is not as simple as it seems.

            As far as Pepsi and Coke they allow this practice. The soda industry has been under fire lately with High Fructose Corn Syrup, and Government regulation attempts on a soda tax. There legal departments are pretty much tied until at least Obama gets out of office in 2012, which is very likely depending on who is opponent is. If it is a Obama v Romney, then he likely stands a chance for another term. Right now it is little fish to them. However, Google has a lot more time on their hands and is likely to make a Sherman Act arguement.

            Also I am sure Rudy’s and others would give them an equal chance but Pepsi
            would have to initiate it or vise versa.

            As for as Internet Explorer restrictions, You cannot export the software to Cuba due to the laws concerning National Security and Defense which have been on the books since the Kennedy administration. This has nothing to do with trademarks, or the Sherman Act.

            Also in the DOJ ruling against Microsoft in the late 90s, Microsoft had to release some of their source code, and had to pay a hefty penalty. .

            Some parts of the Microsoft Anti Trust case are still active in the courts.

            Thanks to the DOJ ruling, it opened the doors for the consumer and in case of San Antonio, Texas the Municpal Government runs Microsoft Products on a MAC. MAC products can run a PC with special hardware.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft

            On of the main issues raised by the DOJ was Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows OS.

            Internet Explorer is a free service just like many other internet browers such as Netscape and Moxilla. There services do the same basic things, for instance connecting you to a website.

            Dadnab and Google do the same in regards to transit information, both grades of services are free. Dadnab is treated like Internet Explorer and Google is treated like Moxilla in this scenario.

            Do you see where I am getting at here?

          4. Walt

            I think you’re just having a laugh with us now Will. That link to CTA’s bus tracker text service isn’t about Google at all. It’s just on the same page as a mention of Google Transit.

            CTA’s bus tracker service is provided by a company called Clever Devices, not Google. Clever Devices provides real-time bus tracking (and delivers it to Chicago-area commuters) by charging for the service. Not a fee to the user, but by charging the Chicago Transit Authority.

            As mentioned here Austin does not have that real-time tracking ability yet, so I don’t know if Clever Devices would even be interested in trying to sell their technology to Cap Metro. But even if they were interested, it would be hard for Clever Devices to beat Dadnab’s price (to Capital Metro) of FREE.

            But maybe Google needs revenue and will take you up on your advice to sue Capital Metro… there must be at least a hundred dollars in ad revenue at stake here annually.

  3. Kudos on the next bus information.
    As far as the no smoking goes, it will be interesting to see how customers respond to this no smoking request. Who are the one’s that will be expected to do the asking? Customers? And what happens if the smoker becomes beligerent and doesn’t want to stop or move 15 feet away? I find that smokers don’t really care about healthy living so they don’t care about how their smoke affects others. Occassionally, I do get people asking me if it’s okay to smoke but that is a rare occurence. Hopefully, you will do some follow up to see how affective this is at limiting smoking.

  4. Will

    Capital Metro, prepare for an injuction. First of all the no tobacco use within 15 feet of the bus stop conflicts with the Smoking in Public Places Ordinance. The current ordiance allows smoking on the sidewalks. You can read about it by checking the COA’s website. The municpal ordinance governs sidewalks. So you CANNOT legally enforce it if someone were to sit on the sidewalk at the bus stop smoking. This is deception. It is also an Inconsiable. Native Americans use tobacco as part of their culture. So that is title VI right there. Second Capital Metro is in violation of the Texas Human Resources Act. You are denying seniors,.visual impaired, and hearing impaired persons the right to receive equal access to a public service, in which YOU PROVIDE by taking away bus trip times that were already printed on your bus stops. CEO Linda Stephenson Watson makes $228,000 slashing HER SALARY will save you more money much more than $100,000. You also used deceptive tactics in your 2010 study which was only for origin and destination studies NOT ONCE did you mention to the PUBLIC that you would be REPLACING THE BUS STOP SIGNAGE.

    This meeting on Wedensday was done almost in secret violating the Texas Open Meetings Act. This information was not made readily available to the public for there input. In fact no information was made available.

    Next Month I will see you in court Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority. Let’s see you have racked up 2 Breaches Of Contract, 3 violations of the Texas Human Resources Code, and violating the Texas Open Meetings Act.

    1. When I brought up the notion of how this is being enforced, I was told that this is a POLICY, not a LAW. So there is a distinct difference.

      The rest of your rant is totally out of line and really demonstrates a great deal of ignorance. Title VI focuses on the provision of transit service and insures that there is no inequality in the provision of service based on race or income. It has nothing to do with smoking or cultural recognition of smoking.

      Capital Metro is not required to hold a public hearing on the changes to the bus stops. If the seniors and disabled community find difficulty with these changes, I am sure staff will get feedback from them and respond accordingly. I’d rather hear the feedback directly from these folks than from a ranting idiot.

      1. Will

        Paul have you ever sued someone in court and prevailed? I HAVE. It is you the ranting idiot McGregor. Do you work for Capital Metro? Did you read the whole reply? No

        Yes per TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT (TOMA) they are REQUIRED to hold a public hearing on service changes. This is clearly a service change, thus a meeting should be held. Staff could care less about the seniors and disabled community. You should see some of the stuff on You Tube. Just google Capital Metro Digital Divide for starters.

        Title VI focuses on race and income. Guess what, How many people below the poverty line have smart phones? Not that many. In fact Capital Metro refuses to do such survey.

        Do some more research before being the shell of Capital Metro. Is it ok that I call you Fred Marlon Gilliam? It is easier to type.

        As far as it being a policy not a law, they do not own the city sidewalks. So if I were to sit on the sidewalk at the bus stop smoking a cigarette or using tobacco they do not have the right nor the authority to stop me from doing so. Why? Because Capital Metro does not own the sidewalks. It is like those jerk bus operators that tell me to step away from the curb. I tell them whatever, and they can throw a tantrum.

        Again

        Capital Metro does not own the sidewalk, or the road.

        On another note, how much does Capital Metro pay you to make such statements?

  5. Mark

    Is it really necessary to threaten Capital Metro? The information provided on their website clearly says that the no smoking rule is only a guideline, and cannot actually be enforced unless the City of Austin changes the law. Also, it is not a civil right to smoke. Many other cities ban smoking near bus stops – it is about time that Austin join them. I don’t see why it is a big deal to smokers to be asked to stand 15 feet away from the bus stop to help other passengers avoid the effects of second-hand smoke.

    Personally, I greatly appreciate these improved signs. Many of the bus stops currently have no schedule information. By allowing me to look up a schedule for any bus stop using my phone I will always know when the next bus will arrive.

    Will the new phone system allow users to type (using the buttons) the stop number in order to get schedule information? I find the IVR is very difficult to use when standing next to the road because it picks up all of the wind and vehicle noise.

    1. Will

      Yes it is necessary to threaten legal action against Capital Metro. Also I was the one responsible for contacting the city of Alamo Heights in regards to VIA violating their sign ordinance regarding this. As a result smoking is allowed at VIA bus stops and shelters in the vacinity of Alamo Heights.

      Leander and other municpalites would have to pass ordinances as well. But since the Austin Smoking in Public Places went to the voters, after costly litigation, in this economy I don’t see the City Of Austin willing to enter in to another legal challenge like they wanted to in the Sanders v Quintana case filed in the Federal Court Western District of Texas. COA would be in legal hot water as per the court order issued by Federal Judge Sam Sparks back in 2006.

      As far as the phone is concerned, bypassing the voice prompts for touchtone only will not be an option. While some cities have banned smoking near bus stops, not one that I know of, has fought the ticket. I know I will. In fact right now VIA in San Antonio has been under legal pressure to only ban smoking at bus shelters, and transit centers. While it may not be a civil right yet to smoke in Texas. I will soon be in my lifetime. A lot of homeless people smoke, and if the homeless are going to be further harassed in Austin, there will be some noise.

      You should look up the State v Guevara 137 S.W.3d 55,
      55–56 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004). A business owner was charged under the ordinance for allowing
      patrons to queue outside her business. Id. She challenged the statute as overly vague because
      it “failed to describe with reasonable certainty what actions constitute allowing patrons to
      queue on the public right-of-way.” Id. at 56. Just replace queue with smoking or tobacco use and therefore Matt is the valid arguement.

  6. If Capital Metro is smart about it, they won’t replace route schedules unadjusted in upcoming service changes, and instead first target those routes whose schedules will become outdated.

    It’s not stated here but I really doubt the information kiosks (or whatever one calls those monoliths) are going to be removed. This new signage just replaces the plexiglass encased paper strips on the poles.

  7. Robin

    Because the cigarettes do contain proven toxic chemicals like lead, and arsenic, the injunction could not be enforced. People could not prove that their right to smoke also requires individuals who have to wait at a specific stop and do not want to breath the chemicals to do so.

    The City of Austin should change the rule so there is a misdemeanor for smoking at the bus stops. Again, because of the proven chemicals, this activity does cause injury. If somebody does want to smoke, they need to do it inside their own home.

  8. Cantridebecausebikeracksarefullagain Smith

    Why is capitol metro spending money on non smoking suggestion signage? Please do not push your moral agenda on me when I am in public. This nation was founded on freedom of choice. The fact is capitol metro does not have the authority to make this a city ordinance. Who is funding this this morally discriminitory suggestion campaign?

  9. M.M

    I have been riding capital metro pretty much my whole life and getting bus times required having to call capmetro or leaving the house 2 hours before you needed to be anywhere “just in case”; it was a nightmare and it made getting around a really big hassle but for for past 2 years riding the bus has been much simpler thanks in major part to my Google Maps app on my phone. For the past few weeks it has been a major pain in the a** trying to plan my trips!Capital Metro’s “trip planner” is horrible! No estimation on walking distance to the bus stop is included and neither are walking directions to the bus stops. This is a major step backwards. BRING GOOGLE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s