This month, a stretch of West 5th Street will debut a big change for Central Austin: a bus & bike-only lane that will speed transit service into downtown and encourage people to get out of their cars and onto the bus.
The new lane on 5th Street west of MoPac is similar to the bus-priority lanes on Guadalupe and Lavaca Streets. Working with Cap Metro, the Austin Transportation Department is converting a bike lane that ran all the way to Lamar Blvd into a dedicated bus & bike lane for a half-mile section between West Lynn and Baylor Streets.
The bus & bike lane will have signal priority for the traffic light at West 5th & Baylor. That means while all other traffic is stopped at a red light, buses and bicycles will be allowed through the intersection. Bikes will continue in the same lane, and buses will be free to switch lanes as they proceed toward the busy Lamar & 5th Street intersection.
The reason we’re doing this is to save time for our customers by allowing buses to travel free from other traffic, just as we did last year when MetroExpress routes began to use the MoPac Express Lanes. Currently during peak traffic times, it takes our buses between 7 and 10 minutes to go from MoPac through the Lamar & 5th Street intersection. We expect this change to cut that time in half!
Five routes operate on West 5th St.:
- Route 4 7th Street (a High-Frequency route that operates every 15 minutes)
- UT Shuttle Route 663 Lake Austin
- MetroExpress Route 980 North MoPac Express
- MetroExpress Route 981 Oak Knoll Express
- MetroExpress Route 985 Leander/Lakeline Direct
Those five routes send roughly 20 buses through that corridor per hour during peak commute times. And now they’ll be doing so in half the time.
This is just the start, too. Capital Metro and the city of Austin have long worked closely together, and that partnership is getting stronger. Later in the spring, we’ll have more to announce on this front.
By Dave Dech, VP of Rail Operations
Capital Metro has been working to put in place a positive train control (PTC) system along the 32-mile MetroRail line. We have now met an important threshold by completing all of the statutory requirements to qualify for an extension to the federally mandated deadline of Dec. 31.
PTC is a technological upgrade of the nation’s rail lines designed to create an additional layer of safety to rail. Congress mandated the improvements back in 2009 and gave rail operators until the end of this year to implement PTC.
The good thing is that Capital Metro has met all of the statutory requirements, which enables us to request the extension. Essentially, that means we’ve demonstrated sufficient progress on the project to convince the government that we’re on our way to full implementation. The Federal Railroad Administration is now reviewing our request, and we expect to receive notice of approval within 90 days. Until then, Capital Metro will continue to operate and continue work on PTC implementation. That means that customers will still occasionally experience disruptions to MetroRail service during this work.
Cap Metro is among many rail operators across the country to request this extension, including Caltrain in the San Francisco Bay area and New Jersey Transit. It allows the agency another two years to fully implement the PTC system, a goal that we are committed to reaching.
Austin’s growth is a tough one. We all know its double-edged nature.
New people and new growth are great. They make for lots of fun and cool things to do and see. But they also make it super expensive to live here and hard to get around. Dealing with that growth requires deliberate thinking and planning. The temptation is just to build quickly and to do so thinking of today’s problems while leaving tomorrow’s for later.
Capital Metro’s Transit Design Guide brings together standards and best practices for how to build a place designed for the people who live here now and for the ones to come. So often, our answer has been simply to build more and build more and build more.
More houses further out.
More and bigger roads to get there.
More offices and shopping centers and apartment complexes wherever we can fit them.
The Transit Design Guide helps guide our thinking, to make sure that the region grows thoughtfully and efficiently. Topics addressed include:
- Transit-Supportive Street Design
- Bus Stop Design
- Transit Lane Configuration
- Rail Station Design
- Park & Ride Design
- Transit-Oriented Development & Place-making
It’s about integrating people and place in planning. It’s about thinking — as we’ve been saying all along with Project Connect — of how to get people from here to there rather than how to fit more cars on that road. This sort of inclusive design builds a region that people want to live in, can afford to live in and that is safer to live in. (Cars are dangerous, y’all.)
As we continue to expand our transit system and look for ways to accommodate this growth, things like the Transit Design Guide and our TOD Tool provide a framework for facilitating consistent high-quality transit service and supportive land use. The guide is available with our Service Guidelines.
By Capital Metro Board Chairman Wade Cooper
Earlier this month, Capital Metro rolled out a vision for what Project Connect will bring to Central Texas. This vision was the product of a transparent community-centered process. It was conceptual in nature and identified the most important corridors that the community and Cap Metro feel are important to create a more connected and livable city. We have also stated that as we undertake the next phase of program development and engineering that even more community engagement will be needed. Now, we want to talk about what that will look like. Continue reading “Project Connect – How a Vision Becomes the Community’s Plan”
The Saturday before Halloween is always pretty great. It gives you an extra shot to show off that amazing costume. You get to head downtown for drinks and/or fun. And you don’t have to wake up early the next day and head into work with a candy hangover.
This year, it’s gonna be even better because Austin is in full-on festival mode. There’s so much happening that weekend, and Cap Metro is here to make it easy to get around.
So, if you’re headed to Soul Food Truck Fest or the Austin Film Festival or the Texas Book Festival or the Viva la Vida Parade or downtown for Halloween festivities … or whatever else might be going on the last weekend in October … Cap Metro can get you there and back for free!
Like we’ve done a few times before, we’re partnering with the Austin Public Library to provide Park & Ride services at a few different branches. Park at the library, pick up your free Day Pass & pre-vetted trip plan and then hop on the bus! It’s super easy.
Park & Ride Locations
Capital Metro and the Austin Public Library invite you to make it a SUPER SATURDAY! Park for free at 6 different branch library locations and ride for free with a Transit Day Pass — so you can spend more time at the festivals and less time circling downtown for parking.
Ride free by parking at one of these neighborhood libraries and checking in with a librarian to pick up your Day Pass:
- Recycled Reads | 5335 Burnet Road | Routes 3, 803
- Pleasant Hill | 211 East William Cannon Drive | Routes 1, 801
- Little Walnut Creek | 835 West Rundberg Lane | Routes 1, 801
- Ruiz | 1600 Grove Boulevard | Route 20
- Carver | 1161 Angelina Street | Route 2
- Cepeda | 651 N. Pleasant Valley | Route 4
- Southeast | 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd | Route 7
Capital Metro operates on public funding, and we take that responsibility seriously. Part of maintaining financial transparency includes letting the public see our budget to ensure we are using your money wisely
And beginning next week we’re going to do just that, and you’ll have four chances to hear about our proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019 and ask questions. Wherever you are — north of the river or south, downtown or on the internet — we’ve got an option for you to participate. So please do!
- North Austin | Tues., 9/4 | 5:30-6:30 p.m. | Spicewood Springs Library | 8637 Spicewood Springs Rd.
- South Austin | Wed., 9/5 | 5:30-6:30 p.m. | Pleasant Hill Library | 211 E William Cannon Dr.
- Online | Mon., 9/10 | 11 a.m. | Zoom webinar (view recorded presentation)
- Downtown | Thur., 9/13 | 1-3 p.m. | Austin City Hall | 301 W 2nd Street
We posted the entire budget online last week, and you can review it in full. So, come prepared with questions and comments. Members of our staff will be there to answer your questions, either about the budget or just about anything else Capital Metro does.