MetroRail riders have experienced some delays in recent weeks due to “technical issues” or “track and systems maintenance,” leading many riders to ask, “Why?” In short, MetroRail is responding to significant growth.
MetroRail’s Red Line is just shy of being six years old but the service has come a long way since its modest beginnings. Ridership more than quadrupled by 2014—and is growing still. Our trains, which run every 30 minutes during peak travel times, accommodate a lot of riders, but as ridership continues to grow, more capacity is needed to meet the demand. Ridership on MetroRail now averages over 66,000 boardings a month, and riders will tell you they often experience “standing room only” during peak weekday service. The Red Line is also heavily used during multiple mega events (SXSW, ACL, Formula 1, etc.) held in Austin each year.
Capital Metro is happy that more riders are choosing to take MetroRail. Even so, we know that it is crucial to meet the growing ridership demand and expand the service so that more people can ride. Capital Metro recently received important support, a federal TIGER grant and a TxDOT grant, to enhance the existing Red Line.
These two grant resources are being used to double the frequency of trains, which will double the capacity of MetroRail and also allow trains to run faster on parts of the track.
- Four new trains
- A permanent, improved Downtown Station
- Upgrades to existing track and trains
- Additional track in some locations
- Signal technology enhancements
(For more details about MetroRail expansion projects, see the video Driving Progress)
Now Under Construction
Ongoing track maintenance is currently being performed; new track is being installed in some places and electronic operating systems are being upgraded and tested.
While work is being performed or during testing, riders may experience delays. As with road construction projects, slow travel on the track may be necessary for the safety of both riders and workers. We are unable to perform some work during non-passenger service hours because the track is used by freight service during MetroRail’s “off” hours. Our goal is to minimize delays and service disruptions during the expansion process.
New trains have been ordered and work on track expansion-related projects will begin in the fall. The enhanced MetroRail service is slated to be complete in 2018. In the meantime, we’ll continue to notify you throughout the project when delays occur. We apologize, in advance, for any inconvenience this may cause. It is our hope that you consider these growing pains as a sign of good things to come: more trains running more frequently – and faster – so more people can enjoy the ride.
Here are some handy terms to help better understand postings about MetroRail service delays:
Technical issue – An electrical issue causing a crossing malfunction or signal disruption.
Mechanical issue – An engine or train malfunction.
Unauthorized vehicle on track – A vehicle other than the train stopped or stalled on the tracks or on a crossing.
Unauthorized person on track – A trespasser is on or too close to the tracks.
Incident near track – A situation near the track which is impeding safe travel by the train (examples: gas leaks, ruptured water pipelines, fires, police activity).
Slow boarding – Typically experienced during well-attended special events when large crowds take more time to get on and off the train at stops, causing train delays.
Track maintenance – Performed on an ongoing basis to keep the track in a state of good repair. Occasionally, track maintenance may also be required after an extreme weather event (examples: ice or flooding) or when debris is obstructing the track.
System maintenance – Performed on an ongoing basis to keep signal and crossing systems in a state of good repair.
Bus shuttle – When service is disrupted between two or more stations, buses may transport riders between the affected stations.