As we get ready to celebrate the end of 2014 and make our resolutions for the new year, let’s talk about the state of transportation in Austin. With 78 bus routes, a commuter rail route, the addition of transportation apps like Lyft and Uber to our existing vehicle for hire infrastructure, and the emergence of app-based designated driver services, we are finally taking steps to combat our shortage of reliable transportation, especially at night.
ATX Safer Streets is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to better late night transportation as an alternative to impaired driving, and one of the most dangerous times to be on the road is New Year’s Eve. According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 42% of traffic fatalities during the New Year’s period, between 2007 and 2011, were the result of drinking and driving (1).
It is for this reason that we are proud to help Capital Metro launch their NYE plans, and hope that you and your friends will take advantage of the FREE rides on MetroBus, MetroRapid and MetroRail starting at 6pm. Here is what you have to look forward to:
- Service on MetroRail will be extended that evening, with the last train leaving the Downtown Station at 2:30 a.m.
- Likewise, MetroRapid will be running later hours, with final departures from the downtown stations along Guadalupe and Lavaca at 2:30 a.m.
- Also available New Year’s Eve are five Night Owl routes that travel to and from Sixth and Congress every 30 minutes, from midnight until 3 a.m. E-Buses and UT Shuttles will not be in service New Year’s Eve.
- Local MetroBus service will operate a regular “weekday” schedule New Year’s Eve, giving riders many late night travel options to get them to and from festivities.
Though Austin is globally renowned for its nightlife, it has taken some time to develop our city’s night-time transit policies. That’s where we step in, as advocates for infrastructure expansion and improvement. However, we can’t do it alone. We can get all the roads built, all the buses running, all the taxis and vehicles-for-hire in the world, and it won’t matter if you don’t step up to the plate and end Austin’s culture of driving home after a night out.
Capital Metro creates its budget based on demand; this means that if you want better late night service, you must demand it, by using the services already in place. You must demand it by leaving your car at home before you go out. You must demand it by encouraging your friends who’ve had too much to drink to get home safely via alternative transportation. This is why we ask you, in 2015, to make a resolution: if you plan on drinking, use Capital Metro to get home.
Capital Metro’s late night service connects major late-night destinations, such as the 6th Street entertainment district, to neighborhoods where residents frequent Austin’s nightlife. Night Owl buses currently operate on 15-30 minute intervals, depending on route; the two MetroRapid routes (801 & 803) operate until after midnight on weekdays and Saturdays, and Expanded Friday/Saturday MetroRail hours have been operating since spring 2012.
Remember, you won’t get towed from a City of Austin parking meter if you leave your car behind. You can even pay for parking into the next day and if you forget to, the city will dismiss your ticket with proof of payment from a vehicle for hire or the bus. Did you know that you can pay for the bus through the Cap Metro App? And real time data is in the pipeline for 2015.
We believe that people – when given options – will make the right decision. ATX Safer Streets and Capital Metro are working hard to give you as many options as possible. Start 2015 off with the right decision: use Capital Metro to get home safe on New Year’s Eve. Learn more at capmetro.org/newyearseve/.
Visit our webpage to learn more about us at atxsaferstreets.org.
From all of us at ATX Safer Streets, have a wonderful and safe holiday!
Sara, Joseph, and Neil