Ringing in 2010 with the Art Bus

Thursday night’s chilly temperatures and gusty winds did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of Capital Metro employees and their families who participated in the First Night Austin 2010 Grand Procession down Congress Avenue on New Year’s Eve.

Local artist Cybil Guest and teens from Arthouse at the Jones Center created the unique design for the bus, and the 3M Corporation donated the materials to make it happen. It was hard to miss the stark black and white of the bus illuminated by several dozen lightbulb-esque dancers both in and outside the bus as we rolled down the parade route. Capital Metro CEO Doug Allen donned his Santa cap and joined in this family event.

After the parade was over Bus Operator Arthur Murillo and his bus became part of the First Night Art Cars installation on the South 1st Street bridge. Arthur also provided route information and directions to chilly revelers who wanted to get a ride home that night on Capital Metro.

Well it seemed like a bright idea at the time.

Thank you to Arthouse at the Jones Center and 3M for helping create this unique partnership and rolling art. The bus is sure to be appearing at bus stops near you over the next few months…

So You Think You Can… Busk?

Express yourself musically at a Capital Metro transit hub.
Express yourself musically at a Capital Metro transit hub.

Capital Metro is putting out an open call for buskers — aka street perfomers — who might be willing to help the agency out at events in the coming months in exchange for a small honorarium plus any tips they collect. We’d like to add a little Austin flavor to some of our public events and station openings.

Buskers are a common site at transit stations throughout the world. In 2003, for example, the London Underground took an activity that had previously been illegal and set aside designated spots in many of their stations for performers to play. Now there are more than 3000 performances each week on the Tube. And a couple of years ago the Washington Post got acclaimed professional violinist Joshua Bell to play a 45-minute set — incognito — at the L’Enfant Plaza station in downtown DC to see whether regular commuters would stop and recognize the level of talent before them rather than hurrying past. They didn’t — he collected $32 and change.

Coincidentally this week also marks the opening of the International Busker Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I happened to be in Halifax in 1998 at the same time as the Festival and it made for a lively and entertaining week. If you’re ever in Canada….

Details on what we’re looking for at Capital Metro and how you can be a part of it can be found here.

And remember when it comes to busking (and life) enthusiasm and attitude sometimes count just as much as talent and ability.

Customers Picture Themselves on Capital Metro

Last week Capital Metro celebrated National Dump the Pump Day with a couple of fun events to encourage ridership and engage our customers.

Thursday morning (June 18th) Capital Metro staff arrived at both the North Lamar and South Congress Transit Centers by 6am for a Dump the Pump bag exchange, which encouraged people to bring us 5 plastic bags that we would exchange for a reusable cloth one. This morning I dropped off the more than 500 plastic bags we received at Ecology Action for recycling.

Then all throughout Dump the Pump Day we encouraged our customers to “Picture Yourself on Capital Metro” by sending us a photograph of themselves riding on Capital Metro. We received dozens of great pictures of people on the bus ranging from thoughtfully composed to hasty self-portraits.

A complete set of the winning shots — chosen at random from the entries received — can be found here. Our Grand Prize winner (a shot of 2-year-old boy named Jake with crackers covering his eyes) received a $200 gift certificate to the EcoShoppe. Runners-up received an i-Ride jacket made from recycled materials. Congratulations to all and thanks to everyone who submitted a photo.

I Ride

It was a beautiful morning to be out on a bicycle.

Last year I rode my bike to work a handful of times. This year for whatever reason I haven’t gotten into the habit. I don’t have a good excuse if the weather’s nice — Capital Metro at 5th and Pleasant Valley is only 6.3 miles from my house in South Austin and I can ride most of it along the Town Lake Trail on Lady Bird Lake. The gravel trail means I have to work a little harder than if I stayed on pavement but the tradeoff of not having to dodge traffic is worth it. Continue reading “I Ride”