Making Transit a Priority

Contraflow
This map shows how the new lane on Guadalupe will make for a more direct route for buses. (from the Austin Transportation Department

Construction starts next week on a project near the intersection of Guadalupe and MLK. And, in a few months, that will result in a different kind of transit lane for Austin.

We’ve been working for months with the city’s transportation department to design little changes that can make big differences for Austin’s traffic congestion issues. Like the bus and bike lane that was put in place on West 5th Street earlier this year, this project will create a transit lane separate from car traffic. What’s new, is that this lane will be for buses only and go against the flow of traffic.

We’re converting one lane of southbound traffic on Guadalupe into a northbound bus lane that lets all vehicles get through the intersection of MLK and Guadalupe/Lavaca a little bit faster. Currently, buses traveling north on Lavaca often get stuck at MLK, even though they have their own lane and signal priority. That’s because the turn from Lavaca onto MLK is difficult to make and highly congested during rush hour.

Our estimates suggest that each bus traveling through the intersection will go 18% faster, which means they’ll save 65 seconds during the peak travel time. And those seconds add up. During rush hour, more than 1,200 people ride the bus through this corridor, and this project will give them an additional 23 hours a year not sitting in traffic.

On a cold day last December, a team of Cap Metro and city of Austin staff gathered at our North Ops facility off Burnet to test out the new route. We laid out cones to match the lane configuration going from northbound Lavaca, turning left at 18th Street and then right on Guadalupe. It’s a tight turn, but as you can see below, the coordination between Cap Metro and city planners combined with the skills of our bus operators make for a smooth ride.

Safety is always top of mind for us, and so the bus lane will be clearly identified as being for buses only with signage and lane markings and separated from southbound vehicle lanes by posts. There will also be a new bike lane on 18th between Lavaca and Guadalupe that turns into a shared use path and improved sidewalk on Guadalupe.

So, this is great news! For bus riders, bike riders, pedestrians and drivers. But all of this takes some work, and so there will be construction that affects traffic over the next month or so. Please bear with us as we make these improvements. We apologize for the delays you may experience in June, but we think you’re going to like what the end of summer brings you.

Cap Metro wants to help you bike to work

Bike 2 bus TopCropThis week, commuters are encouraged to keep their cars at home and use their bikes to get to work. May 13-17 is Bike to Work Week capped off by Bike to Work Day May 17.

The Austin bike community shows up big for Bike to Work Day with live music and complimentary drinks and snacks at special fueling stations along the way. New bike commuters can try routes alongside experienced cyclists and guides.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40% of all trips are less than two miles. From 2000 to 2013, bike commuters grew by 62%. Austin’s plethora of bike and pedestrian-only trails and well-marked bike lanes make the city ideal for commuters and Capital Metro is more than happy to help those wanting to make that transition.

If your job is farther than you’re comfortable riding, you can combine your bike commute with a bus or train ride. Capital Metro has convenient racks on the exterior of all local and MetroRapid buses that hold up to three bikes per rack. There is also space on each train compartment for bikes.

You can also lock and leave your bike at special bike shelters located at our most popular MetroRail stations and transit centers. They provide safe, secure places for you to stow your bike while you complete your commute. Think of it as a bicycle Park and Ride.

The shelters are at:

  • Kramer Station
  • Lakeline Station
  • MLK Jr. Station
  • Plaza Saltillo Station
  • Highland Station
  • Tech Ridge Park & Ride
  • South Congress Transit Center

Get more information on secured bike shelters here. Follow this link to learn more about Capital Metro’s bike-friendly transit.

Don’t let this opportunity to bike to work pass you by!

Heads Up, Look Around

woman using map on gray car compartment
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Distracted driving is a primary factor that contributes to one out of every six traffic-related deaths and serious injuries. Daydreaming is the number one distraction. Cognitive distractions can happen at any moment while driving. From commuting to running errands, drivers can easily become distracted by their thoughts. Thinking about a work-related problem or daydreaming about your dinner plans diminishes the mental abilities required to drive safely. The danger of daydreaming and driving is that you don’t become aware of it until an accident has happened. According to a 2018 study by Erie Insurance, 61 percent of fatal car crashes were caused by people who claim to be “lost in their thoughts.” Unlike texting and driving, daydreaming might be more difficult to avoid. Maintaining a clear mind and staying actively engaged are essential to preventing distracted driving.

#JustDrive #HeadsUpAustin

Follow these tips to stay alert and aware:

  • Plan your driving routes. This allows you to stay focused on the road and not on figuring out directions.
  • Self-check your mental and emotional state. It might be best to get a ride or take transit and avoid driving if you are feeling emotionally or mentally overwhelmed.
  • Make a playlist with music that helps you focus. Upbeat music can help you stay alert and awake. Download the music that works best for you.
  • Chew gum to stay alert. Studies show chewing gum helps.

Heads Up, Phones Down

Texting while driving has become one of the leading causes of distracted-driving related accidents, especially among teens and young adults. Statistics show that even though texting while driving is banned in 47 states it is still a common practice despite the risks involved. Technology is ingrained in the lives of teens and young adults generating constant distractions while driving. Talking, texting and posting to social media increases the probability of being involved in a car accident. Sending out a text message, even with voice assistance, may not seem dangerous but it can be devastating. Staying focused while driving is not always easy, but it can be life-saving. Call or text later when you’re off the road!   #JustDrive  #HeadsUpAustin

adult automotive blur car
Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Here are some tips to help you prevent distractions and stay focused while driving:

  1. Complete any call or text message before driving. It will help you avoid the temptation to use your phone while driving.
  2. Silence your cell phone. This is another way to limit being distracted by your phone.
  3. Put your cell phone out of reach. You can’t check what’s not there.
  4. Pull over if it is important. Unless it is an emergency, it can wait!
  5. Download apps to block calls and texts while driving. Use technology to your advantage.

Heads up! It’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted-Driving

Capital Metro wants Austin drivers to know April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. All month we’ll be raising awareness about distracted driving behaviors and potential consequences while providing helpful tips to stay safe.

We will highlight examples of the three most common types of distracted driving; cognitive, manual and visual, and offer tips to avoid these risky behaviors. As drivers, we must be aware of our behaviors to prevent and avoid accidents and strive to always act responsibly when behind the wheel. Traffic deaths and injuries are no joke.

Numerous accidents are caused by unnecessary distractions like texting, talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup or simply daydreaming. Don’t put yourself or someone else at risk when you’re behind the wheel. Take this month to pledge to become a better driver. Stay tuned for our weekly blogs with information and tips on ways to prevent distracted driving.

New Performance Dashboards Offer Peak Behind the Scenes

By Reinet Marneweck, Capital Metro CFO

Today, Capital Metro officially launched our online Performance Dashboards on CapMetro.org after presenting them to our board of directors. The initiative is another step in Capital Metro’s effort to be transparent and provide data in a clear and efficient manner, both for our board and the public.

The new Performance Dashboards will track metrics in four important categories:

  • Ridership
  • Safety
  • Service Reliability
  • Financial Transparency

These dashboards will collect data from our various internal systems across multiple applications. They’ll replace quarterly reports agency staff has been providing to board members, as well as the monthly ridership stats posted online. We think the dashboards will result in better data-driven decision-making, improved data consistency and increased transparency.

The quality of the information provided will increase greatly with the Performance Dashboards. As an example, we formerly had provided a spreadsheet with raw ridership data divided among services and service providers. The Ridership Dashboard, on the other hand, will provide context for that data. It will show systemwide year-over-year trends (for the entire system or for an individual route) and display the top five routes over the past two years. It will also offer views on ridership by route for different parts of the week, be it weekdays, Saturdays or Sundays.

Ridership-Dashboard
Sample Ridership Dashboard for Route 4 – 7th Street

This is also an ongoing project that will grow and change. We’ll soon augment the Ridership Dashboard with in-depth route-by-route information and add a scorecard measuring our performance against the Capital Metro Strategic Plan.

To view the Performance Dashboards, scroll to the bottom of any page on our website and click the button labeled “Performance.”

We also want to hear from you and to discover what you are interested in learning about. If there’s data that you don’t see but wish you had access to, please let us know by emailing Feedback@CapMetro.org. (Be sure to put Performance Dashboards in the subject line, so we can keep track and forward it to the appropriate team.)