A few words about productivity…

In the transit business, one of the most common ways to evaluate how well a route is doing is by measuring its productivity. There are several ways to measure a route’s productivity, such as cost per rider, riders per mile, etc. One measure that we use often around here is riders per hour, which is the number of people that ride a route per hour of service provided. For example, if 30 passengers ride a route that operates for two hours, the productivity is 15 passengers per hour.

So, what are Capital Metro’s most productive MetroBus routes?

1) Route 1L/1M (39 passengers per hour) – Continuously ranks 1st or 2nd in terms of productivity, which is one of the reasons why Lamar Boulevard, Guadalupe Street and South Congress Avenue were selected as the alignment for our first MetroRapid route.
2) Route 300 (37.5 passengers per hour) – Connects North Lamar Transit Center and South Congress Transit Center and serves many ridership generators including MetroRail stations, Reagan High School, multiple HEB grocery stores, and a Walmart.
3) Route 20 (37.1 passengers per hour) – Serves the very busy and growing Riverside corridor, as well as Manor Road.
4) Route 331 (36.7 passengers per hour) – Operates between ACC Riverside and Westgate Mall, mostly along Oltorf. ACC Riverside and Travis High School are major ridership generators. When they are in session, Route 331 can outperform Route 1L/1M.
5) Route 325 (35 passengers per hour) – Connects the densely populated Rundberg corridor with two shopping areas: Northcross Mall and the Walmart Shopping Center at Rutherford. It also has the highest percentage of Spanish-speaking passengers by far (44%).
6) Route 7 (33.8 passengers per hour) – Experienced ridership growth after it was extended to the St. John’s neighborhood in August 2010. Also serves the Dove Springs area in southeast Austin.

Did you notice that half of the highest performing routes listed above are local routes serving downtown and the other half are crosstown routes bypassing downtown? This reflects people’s changing travel patterns. Not everyone works, shops, or seeks medical services in downtown anymore. The implementation of Capital Metro’s ServicePlan 2020 has done a good job of meeting these changing patterns and improving overall productivity on our bus routes.

Service planning doesn’t only pay attention to our most productive routes, we also monitor the least productive routes. We then evaluate ways to improve productivity including rerouting, restructuring with surrounding routes, changing frequency or hours of service. To get a better idea of how we evaluate routes and make changes, check out the recording of our Service Standards & Guidelines and Spring Service Analysis webinars.

See you on the bus.

41 thoughts on “A few words about productivity…

  1. The problem with focusing on productivity is that you make a system that serves only grocery stores and commuters. If you need to go anywhere else the system is fairly useless. There are huge swaths of town with no bus service. You say that routing the #7 to St Johns increased ridership, you abandoned anyone who bought or rented on the previous line for bus proximity.
    I’d suggest that a better measure might be ensuring that 95% of Austinites are within walking distance of a bus line.

  2. Will

    The 44 percent of your Spanish speaking passengers don’t text, or scan QR codes to find out when the next bus comes. It is time for Lucas to go, and post those signage which gives the timepoints and the map of route on the bus stop. As a taxpayer funded entity you should be all things to all people. I am just finalizing my FTA civil rights complaint over your new bus stop signage, and will be sending it off soon. .

    1. erik

      I completely agree. People who have higher technology already use Google Maps to determine their trip itinerary. This initiative was a total waste of money. If just trying to “be cool” they could’ve put up LED heads-up displays at some of the stops downtown, while leaving the other stops with a standard timesheet. Reliance on cell technology is shortsighted.

    2. Tim Thomas

      CapMetro did research on this and actually the majority of their passengers do have cell phones. I think the QR-Codes are great. Previously I could probably count on one hand the number of times I actually saw a bus schedule at a stop, and it didn’t actually explain where the bus went or useful info like that. Not to mention that with technology the route information can be internationalized and presented in multiple languages.
      When you consider that you can get Pay-As-You-Go phone plans with data for $35/month, the trend is going towards more people having access to the Internet via phones as their primary access point. It’s much cheaper to have a mobile phone with Internet than a home phone and home broadband.

        1. The lifetime of cellphones are generally less than the lifetime of posted bus schedules. If their current cellphone doesn’t have the capability they’ll have it within 2 years. You can now get information about bus schedules at all stops in Austin. That’s a massive change even if it requires technology. Pretty much every bus stop I’ve visited didn’t have that information or it was too washed out to read so it was just as useless as having no QRCode reader. The big difference here is we have a cost effective manner of making sure the schedules are ALWAYS up to date, and add real time information in the future without changing signs. And it’s a feature riders can make sure is on their next cellphone.

        2. Walt

          You don’t need a QR scanner to get individual stop times – it just saves you from having to type the four digit stop ID. If you “text” the Stop ID to Dadnab the service returns information on the next scheduled buses at that bus stop. That’s how I use it.

          1. There’s several problems.

            1. Having a cell phone.

            2. Having a cell phone capable of scanning QR codes.

            3. Having the QR-code scanning app.

            I was only up to #1 until about 1.5 years ago, and I’m presumably far more technology-having than the rider we’re expressing concern about here.

          2. Erica

            You’re getting hung up on the QR codes, but the real hero of the new signage is the labeling of every bus stop with its corresponding bus stop ID#. With that ID number you can get specific stop info in multiple ways with a cell phone. More than 80% of our riders carry a cell phone when they ride that can make use of the new signs.

            The bus stop ID# system is going to work seamlessly with both a new IVR phone system coming next year and the real-time tracking technology that will be fully installed in 2014… so we’re laying the groundwork now for even more functionality in the future.

          3. Curious

            Besides peace of mind, I don’t understand the advantage of checking when the next bus comes once you are at a stop. This doesn’t increase the speed or efficiency of my trip. I’m already at the stop and I’m going to have to wait the amount of time no matter what.

            I’ve never personally used it. Can someone tell me when this has helped them?

      1. Will

        $35 a month, but it is not payable in SNAP benefits. Plus lifeline is availble for cell phones, but is very very limited in minutes and texting is an optional feature. We have a rate increase coming on the electric bills plus probally another fare increase because Capital Metro feels like they deserve it we got to pay for Linda’s raise, and the airfare expenses occured by Capital Metro board members chafetz, silas, and crew. Not to mention expedia and lodging. Groceries are expensive even the unhealthy junk food is. When people look to cut and do without the first thing they do is get rid of their cell phones. Plus cell phones have been proven to cause brain cancer, like flouridated water cell phones are radiation galore. If they had payphones at a lot of their bus stops with toll free access (something VIA does in San Antonio) I would not have a problem with them replacing some of these bus stop signs not all of them since it would be impratical to install payphones at every bus stop. But Capital Metro shows a bit of prejudice against low income, persons of color, and disability including the homeless population. Capital Metro seems to strive their best in this field making service inaccessible as possible, and trying their best to have only the wealthy, the non disabled, and anglo passengers to have the best use of their services. They claim they are ready to start weekend service on the rail, but you can’t go to HEB plus without a car due to the lack of a traffic signal and pedestrian walk signal in Leander. DOJ needs to fine Mayor John David Cowman on this. While people do have cell phones some are for emergency use only (i.e. not activated and used for having to dial 911) BTW Pay as you go unlimited text is $2 a day when you use your phone so anotherwards it has to cost you up to $4 a day to ride the bus. One more note social service agencies to help those in need pay for the reduced fares are not available in Northwest Austin. To bad VIA can’t buy out Capital Metro you would see better customer service if they did.

        1. Tim Thomas

          A car costs significantly more than $35/month. Obviously if you don’t have a cell phone you have to rely on the previous methods of getting schedule information. But let’s not pretend that there were more than a handful of stops in town with up-to-date, legible, schedule information. I’ve noticed driving around town that there now is actually a way to get information on where you are at every bus stop in town. That’s a huge improvement. Previously if you got off at the wrong stop what was your option? Even if you had a cell phone there was no way to find out what bus stop you were at.

          And Northwest Austin? Why would anyone expect there to be good services for the poor in Northwest Austin?

          1. Will

            And Northwest Austin? Why would anyone expect there to be good services for the poor in Northwest Austin?

            You know not too long ago that statement was true for anywhere in Austinwest of 35. But we had governance as well as lawsuits forcing social service agencies to open up in Central, North, and South Austin. Not having these agencies promotes segregation, as it is a proven fact that more minorities are poor versus whites.

            I’ve noticed driving around town That makes you a choice rider.

            Previously if you got off at the wrong stop what was your option? Even if you had a cell phone there was no way to find out what bus stop you were at.

            With the old signs they would have a map route of where that route goes.

            there now is actually a way to get information on where you are at every bus stop in town.

            That it is because they didn’t want to install the previous signs as it would crowd the bus with non choice riders. But what makes me mad is like it or not the money spent of these new signs are from stolen taxpayer dollars courtesy of Barack Obama who sigend the CPPW .

  3. Jorge

    Thank you for being the spokesperson for all Spanish speakers Guillaume! Indeed we do not text, or scan QR codes, because the complicated Anglo technology is too complicated for us. Gracias for filing this complaint on our behalf and being a hero to our people!

  4. “which is one of the reasons why Lamar Boulevard, Guadalupe Street and South Congress Avenue were selected as the alignment for our first MetroRapid route.”

    It’s also the reason why that route should have gotten rail, since MetroRapid is a complete waste of time and money – providing 0 minutes of travel improvement on the most congested part of the corridor.

    1. Matt

      >>providing 0 minutes of travel improvement on the most congested part of the corridor

      Do you have a source for this? The presentation http://www.capmetro.org/docs/MetroRapid-Webinar-07.2011.pdf
      certainly seems to imply a travel time improvement. I’m specifically looking at the NLTC to SCTC trip on page 13, since this seems to be the one to cover the “most congested part of the corridor”.

      >>MetroRapid is a complete waste of time and money
      Even apart from travel time improvements, you seem to be ignoring the frequency and capacity improvements (bigger buses that come more often). Definitely not a “complete waste”.

      >>It’s also the reason why that route should have gotten rail
      That would be great. I don’t suppose you happen to have a couple of Billion spare dollars laying around that you’d like to donate?

        1. Matt

          You’re making up random fake numbers. Why “eliminate, let’s say, half of the #1 trips”?
          http://www.capmetro.org/docs/MetroRapid-Webinar-07.2011.pdf
          , page 12 shows a reduction in #1 trips of less than 1/3.

          And make up your mind. When talking about frequency, you include both #1 and #101, when talking time savings, you only use the #101 number.

          Also, you claim “the vast majority of #101 ridership comes from the north, not the south,” when

          http://capmetro.org/serviceplan2020/downloads/Perteet_CapitalMetro_BoardingAlighting_Route101_NB.pdf

          shows significant boardings on the 101 sourth of the river going northbound.

          >>blowing $34 per ride on operating subsidies
          I know you love to bash the metrorail, but we were specifically debating the metrorapid line.

          1. Matt

            And you haven’t addressed the increase in capacity. A bus you can’t get on because it’s full (or the bike rack is full) is the same (to you) as a bus running at a lesser frequency.

          2. Matt, do me a favor: lose the attitude, especially when I’m providing you with citations when you, effectively, call me a liar.

            Capital Metro has announced they plan on reducing the frequency of the #1 once MetroRapid opens. This particular one is very difficult to google for obvious reasons – so you’re going to have to trust me this time – or ask Capital Metro directly, if you don’t.

            The frequency I used was “either the #1 or the #101 passing a given point where both stop”. If I used only the #1, it would be a lot worse, as there are a lot fewer stops for the #101, obviously.

            The capacity argument is mostly bogus as well – bigger buses coming less often means less capacity improvement than you would think. I expect a modest improvement in seating capacity, but nowhere near the double you would expect from the bigger buses (because overall frequency will go down some).

          3. Also, from that same post:

            Even if you kept all the #1 trips (i.e. did NOT take Capital Metro at their word that they plan on reducing #1 service), and you end up with 11 trips versus 9 – hardly a major improvement in frequency.

          4. Matt

            >>you end up with 11 trips versus 9
            If you make that assumption (again, I’m not sure why, as better numbers are already available), that would be a >20% improvement, right out the gate. That _is_ a major improvement.

            And that’s if you assume #1 trips and #101 trips are equivalent (oh, I missed the 101, I’ll just take the next #1 that will take me significantly longer to get to my destination). If you don’t make that assumption, #101 -> Metrorapid represents a 50% improvement in frequency, a very major improvement.

          5. Matt

            http://www.capmetro.org/serviceplan2020/docs/Chapter%205%20-%20Recommendations.pdf

            is obsolete. You’re pointing to January 2010 documents to argue against _updated_ data from cap Metro, from July 2011.

            It states that a bunch of changes (like changing 1L/1M to 1, running 101 on the weekends) would happen in 2011. It didn’t.

            And then even in the document you source, you ignore “Frequency on Route 1 should be improved to account for the deletion of service on Route 1L.”

          6. Matt, this is going to be one last chance to engage you with respect.

            I found that document which detailed their plans on what to do once MetroRapid starts. They have also said in various presentations that they intend to reduce/realign the #1 when MetroRapid starts.

            I am telling you this in all honesty: Capital Metro has said in several fora that they intend to reduce service on the #1 once MetroRapid starts. If you have any more questions on this, please address them to Capital Metro.

  5. Matt

    >>I found that document which detailed their plans on what to do once MetroRapid starts.
    From January 2010.

    I have also found a document that details their plans on what to do once Metrorapid starts.
    From July 2011.

    Which one do you think is more up to date?

    >>They have also said in various presentations that they intend to reduce/realign the #1 when MetroRapid starts.
    Yes. However they have never said they intend to reduce #1 frequency by half (the main support for your assertion that Metrorapid will not result in an increase in frequency).

    >>Capital Metro has said in several fora that they intend to reduce service on the #1 once MetroRapid starts.
    No one is disputing this. I’m disputing your biased article “Rapid [sic] Bus Fact Check”, which is based on your assertion (with no basis in fact, and is not even supported by your January 2010 source) that #1 frequency will be cut in half.

    >>If you have any more questions on this, please address them to Capital Metro.
    I don’t need to address any questions to Cap Metro, because Cap metro has made the information available. Information that you’re ignoring to write your screeds.

    1. Matt, the reason to ask Capital Metro is because it might actually serve to educate rather than obfuscate, seeing as how the latter appears to be your only goal here.

      Go ahead. I dare you. And I promise I will adjust my post to take into account whatever they tell you.

      1. Matt

        One of us pointed to actual numbers in Cap Metro provided documentation. One of us just made up a “50% cut” and then used it as the basis of his blog post. Who is trying to obfuscate now?

        Why didn’t you “ask Capital Metro” for the number before making one up and writing about it?

        1. Your “actual numbers” were, as far as I can see, evaluating a bar chart (which, to be fair, does look like a cut of about 1/3).

          My “actual numbers” were looking at their report, where they said they would take one of (1L, 1M)’s resources and divert to increased 101 service, and leave the other one alone as the surviving #1.

          I actually took 2, saw the end result of 1, and turned it into “1/2”.

          You are picking at some serious nits here, though, because if I was to change my post to indicate that #1 service was being cut by 1/3 rather than 1/2, the surviving #1 trips move from 2 to either 3 or 4 out of the original 5 in the example hour.

          Again, I will no longer accept obnoxious demands from you that I provide further citation – given that mine came from Capital Metro themselves, and especially given the fact that they probably still don’t have a final set-in-stone plan on what to do with the #1, only additional proposals like the ones we’ve just talked about. If you wish a correction, go acquire the justification, and I will gladly correct at that point.

          1. Matt

            >>where they said they would take one of (1L, 1M)’s resources and divert to increased 101 service, and leave the other one alone as the surviving #1.

            And then 2 paragraphs down, on the exact same page you reference, they state “Frequency on Route 1 should be improved to account for the deletion of service on Route 1L.”. 1/2 + X != 50%

            >>they probably still don’t have a final set-in-stone plan on what to do with the #1
            I agree. However, that didn’t stop you from posting multiple blog posts bashing the metrorapid plans, and calling it a “a complete waste of time and money”. Which, as far as can be determined from the at least tentative plans, is far from the case (with some increase in frequency, travel time reductions for some subset of users, and a vast increase in capacity).

  6. jgamez

    Thanks to all for taking time to comment on productivity, QR codes, and MetroRapid.

    We are still refining the MetroRapid implementation plan – a plan that will adjust the alignment, frequencies, and service span of several existing routes.

    Our current plan is to have Route 1L run from Braker to William Cannon every 24 minutes. Route 1M would be eliminated but its Rundberg/Metric branch would be replaced by an extended Route 10 and improved to 20 minute frequency. Route 325 would also be improved to 20 minute frequency to accommodate the anticipated increase in ridership along East Rundberg.

    The net savings from these changes and replacement of Route 101 would allow us to operate MetroRapid all day, 7 days a week.

    While the allocation of service would change in many ways, the overall amount of service (vehicle hours) would increase. The North Lamar/South Congress corridor would also benefit from additional seating capacity with the 60′ articulated buses.

    These are our preliminary plans that require further refinement and could possibly change due to a number of different factors.

    By next year, we will have much more detailed information to share via open houses, webinars, blog, etc. As with all service change proposals, we welcome feedback from our customers and the community, so let us know what you think.

      1. Matt

        I acknowledge that this _changed_ plan (which is now inconsistent with the plans presented in both http://www.capmetro.org/docs/MetroRapid-Webinar-07.2011.pdf
        and your own source of http://www.capmetro.org/serviceplan2020/docs/Chapter%205%20-%20Recommendations.pdf ) does now appear to be a 50% reduction in the #1 line. Whether that actually represents a increase/decrease of bus frequency at any particular stop depends on the changes/additions of all the other lines referred to by jgamez above). This _new_ information does not change the fact that your blog post had no factual basis at the time you wrote it.

        And I’m still waiting for you to address the speed/capacity improvements with your claim that metrorapid is a “complete waste”.

        1. Matt, that plan is consistent with the 2020 service plan (which said either 1L or 1M would be eliminated, IIRC).

          You’re really stretching here to avoid manning up and admitting you were wrong.

          My blog post was based not only on the 2020 service plan but on various presentations Capital Metro made – which I told you about – and you persisted in not believing. I told you these were difficult to find via google; but I did find you one citation consistent with my general recollection.

          At this point I have no choice but to consider you a [edited] here. Do not expect any citations from me in the future.

          1. As for speed/capacity;

            speed improvements are non-existent for the part of the line where congestion is the biggest problem (NLTC to downtown). By Capital Metro’s own estimation – 0% improvement over the 101.

            capacity improvements are meaningless unless buses are currently leaving passengers stranded. Capacity improvements for wheelchair users are somewhat more compelling of course.

        2. Matt

          >>that plan is consistent with the 2020 service plan (which said either 1L or 1M would be eliminated, IIRC).
          And the 2020 service plan then went on to say, in the next paragraph, that the remaining #1 would have it’s frequency increased from that (resulting in >50%) That may not be the plan anymore, but it was the published plan when you made your posting.

          >>(NLTC to downtown).
          Which you have arbitrarily defined to be the only segment that matters, even though

          >>repeat from above
          http://capmetro.org/serviceplan2020/downloads/Perteet_CapitalMetro_BoardingAlighting_Route101_NB.pdf

          shows significant boardings on the 101 sourth of the river going northbound.

          >>capacity improvements are meaningless unless buses are currently leaving passengers stranded
          Here’s where I still need to go and research, but I believe this has become a problem at peak times on the 1/101 route. Which is why they’re using the stretched, articulated buses for the metrorapid on this route (instead of the non-articulated ones planned for the #3).

  7. Parker

    I just have a question since there are more College Apartment type units on Riverside ya’ll should add an night owl that go’s further up riverside so more people have the option of not having to drive downtown if ya’ll can add a 100 airport flyer to riverside you should be able to add a new night owl

  8. jgamez

    We are working on a proposal to restructure 5 of the 6 Night Owl routes in August. Each route would run every 30 minutes bi-directionally.

    We would look to extend Route 483 further east along Riverside and Oltorf.

  9. RCM

    Why does this Matt person apparently have a major life purpose of viciously attacking mdahmus with non sequiturs and cherry-picked irrelevancies?

  10. Pingback: NACN Update: Bond Package and Fixing North Lamar/Burnet | North Austin Civic Association

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