MetroRail Rider Profile: Dave Sullivan

As a member of the Austin City Planning Commission, Dave Sullivan has a very unique perspective from the train. He is also a cycling enthusiast who uses the train to ride around town.

“I don’t know why more people don’t use MetroRail. It’s a convenient, ideal way to travel,” Dave said. You avoid the hassles on the roads, he said. He bikes 2 miles from near Enfield and MoPac to the Convention Center 3 – 4 mornings a week to catch the 6:41 to Kramer Station, then one mile from there to the Pickle Research Campus.  In the evening he bikes home 10 miles.  Occasionally he does the reverse. Sometimes he bikes both ways!

There are also many things that one can do whilst on the train. “You can work on the train; I see lots of people with their laptops out.”

Eventually, “there will be much more residential and retail than there is now,” Dave said. This will cause ridership to rise as more people have more places to go.

Dave also enjoys getting to meet new people who are riding the train.

He, like many others, wishes there was more service, especially more reverse commute trains that go all the way to Leander.

He sees a future with weekend service, too. “During South by Southwest people could stay at hotels farther north and then run into downtown,” he said.

Rider Profile: Chris Tosh

UT student Chris Tosh began riding MetroRail this semester. According to him, the journey was an improvement over how he used to get from the Kramer area to the UT campus. Chris used to have to take an hour-long bus ride to get to campus. Now, he bikes in to Kramer Station, rides MetroRail to MLK, Jr. Station and then takes the 465 MLK Jr. Connector to  the UT campus, or he bikes in.

“I’d heard MetroRail was running, I just did not know that the station was close by,” Chris said.

“The train is faster, because during rush hour you don’t hit any of the traffic,” Chris said. He continued, “I definitely like this better than the bus trip.”

Rider Profile: Stephanie McCurley

Stephanie McCurley likes Capital MetroRail so much that she walks farther to use it. “I walk two blocks out of my way to use the train,” Stephanie , a bus and train rider, said. Her commute takes her from Tech Ridge Park & Ride to downtown on E. 8th st.

She rides the 935 Tech Ridge Express into work in the morning, but in the afternoon she takes the train from Downtown to Howard and then catches the 243 Wells Branch home.

“My car broke down two years ago, and I decided to keep using public transportation,” Stephanie said. “The train does not sit in traffic and there is no slamming on of the brakes or stop and go like on IH 35. You aren’t worried about being rear ended or hitting another vehicle. A friend once complained the train is always on time so if she is late she must take the bus instead.”

She enjoys the train because the scenery is better than the roadway. “I do my bird-watching out of the window, I see great blue herons and hawks,” she said. To her, the train is “smoother, quieter and more scenic” than a bus or car trip.

Rider Profile: David Franke

Capital Metro rider David Franke rides #460 Downtown Rail Connector.

Meet David Franke.

His commute used to take 45-55 minutes or longer by car. He now rides every workday on Capital Metro’s MetroRail and connector buses and his commute now takes 1 hour and 10 minutes. Why does David Franke do this? The longer trip is more useful.

“I gain time, because I can work 45 minutes on my computer during the trip,” David said. He uses Sprint 3G for internet instead of relying on the built WiFi on the train. His commute now is a drive from his house to the Lakeline Station, MetroRail to the Downtown station, where he catches the 460 Downtown Station/Capitol MetroRail Connector.

Fighting traffic on 183 was what he did previously. His new commute “is a good deal in terms of cost, its lower frustration, with no road rage.”

David is a rider that Capital Metro did pull off of the highways and roads of Austin and put into our train and bus. With his new found time and lowered frustration he “was surprised that more people aren’t riding the train.”

His advice to new riders is to “have something to do and find out which bus connector goes to where you work.”

They’re Saaaafe!

Herzog Transit Services Inc, our commuter rail contractor since December, recently celebrated a milestone: 200 days accident-free.  Actually, the count is now 230+ days without a Federal Railway Administration reportable injury.

“It’s not a record easy to receive and we’re very proud of it,” Steven Welch, system safety and compliance manager for HTSI, said. Such a record is hard-won and easy to lose, all it takes is one unsafe strike and it’s gone.

When every day presents the challenge of hitting a home run in safety, employees must be focused. It all comes down to communication. “Before we start any task we have a job briefing and everyone understands what has to be done,” Welch said. “Our goal for safety is one day at a time.”

HTSI’s 60 employees have worked 100,000+ man-hours without an accident and are proud of their achievement. This also means that have had a perfect record of batting a thousand on safety.

Herzog has a very good industry average for safety, and it’s a great thing to hear that their performance here is no exception.

Meals on Wheels and Capital Metro

MoW client Senaida Mokarzel with her lunch.
MoW client Senaida Mokarzel with her lunch.

Meals on Wheels (MoW) is Capital Metro’s neighbor over here on East 5th St. Capital Metro employees have been delivering Meals on Wheels since 1996. Recently, I rode along with Jennifer Govea and Terri Wilson, as they delivered for Meals on Wheels. They volunteer on their lunch break to help out with the program.

MoW, is a non-profit program that gives homebound seniors and individuals with disabilities a hot lunch. The Austin chapter, Meals on Wheels and More also runs other programs, more info here.

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Tobacco Policy Survey

Capital Metro wants you to give us feedback and your thoughts on whether or not we should make the boarding areas of transit facilities including MetroRail stations, transit centers, and park & rides tobacco free. We are taking public comment through this survey.  The survey will be available June 28 through July 11. It takes about two minutes to complete.

 The results of the survey will be given to the Board of Directors at their July 26 meeting when they consider adopting the policy.

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