Happy Fourth of July

If your Independence Day plans include watching the Austin Symphony July 4th Concert and Fireworks at Auditorium Shores, exercise your right to be car-free and ride Capital Metro to the event.

Routes that serve Auditorium Shores include 1L/1M, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, 30, 338, and the Night Owls. Most routes operate until around midnight, and the Night Owls run from 12 – 3 a.m. Riding is easy. Plan your trip online. Some routes will be affected by detours.

Save money on gas and parking. A single ride on Capital Metro costs just $1. Or, buy a $2 Day Pass for unlimited trips within 24 hours.

It’s also important to remember we are providing a Saturday level of service on Wednesday, July 4th. Refer to the Saturday schedules to plan your trip. There will be no MetroRail or UT shuttle service.

Administrative offices will be closed; however, customer service is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Feds say we’re “doing it right”

Capital Metro recently received a positive review from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) triennial review. Since we are a federal funding recipient, we have to go through a review every three years with the FTA. In FY 2012, we conservatively estimate to receive around $36.1 million in federal funds.

So what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, a positive review is a reflection of the good work we’re doing here at Capital Metro. We have a responsibility to provide a vital community service and staff works hard to deliver quality transportation choices. Capital Metro President/CEO, Linda Watson believes this is further confirmation that “Capital Metro is on the right track” and that we are conducting business with integrity, transparency and fiscal accountability.

The review is one of the FTA’s management tools for the responsible administration of federal transportation grants. It scrutinizes the agency in 24 different areas including procurement, finance, maintenance, safety, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In its cover letter to Capital Metro, FTA Regional Administrator Robert Patrick congratulated the transit authority for its diligence in providing quality transportation in the Austin area.

The review was conducted by a third party contractor of the FTA, Advanced Systems Technology and Management, Inc. The review team congratulated President Watson on having a good team and “doing it right.”

From the beginning, Watson has made it my goal to create a high-performing organization and position the agency so that it is a significant and valued contributor to the growth and development of the region. We’re making strides to meet the needs of central Texas. Feel free to browse through the review, which is posted online along with a lot of other financial and audit information.

Dump the Pump Day – June 21

This Thursday, we’re asking you to dump the pump and ride Capital Metro. June 21 is National Dump the Pump Day and there has never been a better time to make the switch to public transit. There are a multitude of benefits to riding transit.

Saves money

Riding transit is an affordable option. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s June Transit Saving Report, a two-person household can save, on the average, almost $10,000 a year by downsizing to one car.

Capital Metro has some of the lowest fares in the nation. A 31-day local pass costs just $30. Use this fuel savings calculator to find out how much money you could be saving by riding public transit.

Saves the environment

Taking public transit is the most effective action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Riding Capital Metro saves 4,800 pounds of carbon per year and far exceeds the combined benefits of using energy-efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, weatherizing one’s home, and replacing a refrigerator.

Calculate your carbon savings riding public transportation.

Saves your health

Riding Capital Metro is also a healthy choice. Studies have shown that regular transit riders tend to be healthier because of the exercise they get walking to and from bus stops, train stations and their homes or offices.

It might be hot in June, but a short walk will do you good. Cool off in our well air-conditioned vehicles and enjoy a relaxing ride home, rather than a stressful drive in rush hour traffic.

The concept behind Dump the Pump started right here at Capital Metro, and now it is a national event to raise awareness of all the benefits of public transportation. So what are you waiting for? Ditch the car and get on the bus, train or carpool this Thursday.Try it and you might like it.

The Hydrogen Hybrid Bus is Here

A new technologically advanced bus with zero emissions is about to hit the streets of Austin. The Hydrogen Hybrid Bus will go into service this month among the University of Texas shuttles, alternating between the Forty Acres and Intramural Fields routes.

Capital Metro along with the University of Texas Center for Electromechanics (UT-CEM) and several other local and national partners have a unique opportunity to be a part of an important project by studying and further refining fuel cell technology.

During the yearlong demonstration, the bus will be fueled at UT-CEM’s state-of-the-art hydrogen  fueling station located on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus. Thanks to support by Gas Technology Institute and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), this station allows for the generation, compression, storage and dispensing of hydrogen on-site.

The prototype bus, manufactured by Proterra, combines electric battery power and mobile hydrogen fuel cells. The bus is a zero emission vehicle; water is the only exhaust. It uses a large lithium battery pack along with an electric drive train and custom transmission. Two hydrogen fuel cells operate to keep the battery pack fully charged.

Continue reading “The Hydrogen Hybrid Bus is Here”

Fuel Spill Drill

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, a group of four employees were told a fuel delivery truck hose failed and a large amount of diesel fuel was released on the ground next to the service island. Their job was to take care of the situation. This was just a drill, but nonetheless, they sprang into action.

A water tank was set up to act as a delivery truck leaking fuel. Five other employees were positioned around the scenario to observe and take notes. Continue reading “Fuel Spill Drill”

Connecting Central Texas

Have you heard about Project Connect? It’s a new initiative aimed at implementing the high capacity transit component of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) 2035 Plan. The initial Project Connect partnership includes the City of Austin, Capital Metro, the Lone Star Rail District and CAMPO.

Over the next several months, the Project Connect team will reach out to the public to build consensus and answer the following questions:

  1. How will high capacity transit components in the CAMPO 2035 Regional Transportation Plan work as a system?
  2. How will our region organize to develop and operate the system?
  3. How will we pay for the system over the long term?

This week, the public is invited to attend one of three open houses to learn more, ask questions and provide valuable feedback:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 5-8 p.m. at Bowie High School (4103 Slaughter Lane)
  • Thursday, Dec 8 from 5-8 p.m. at Anderson High School (8403 Mesa Drive)
  • Friday, Dec 9 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Austin City Hall Atrium (301 W. 2nd Street)

Want to know more? Visit connectcentraltexas.com

The Path to Environmental Sustainability

Capital Metro is in the process of making some positive changes when it comes to environmental sustainability. We have a group of six employees (including myself) that are participating in training from the Environmental Management System Institute conducted by Virginia Tech University. Capital Metro was selected by the Federal Transit Administration to participate in the program this year, which is supported and funded by the FTA. Continue reading “The Path to Environmental Sustainability”

Rail Safety Day

In observance of International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD), Capital Metro is once again reminding you to be safe around railroad tracks. Motorists and pedestrians should ALWAYS expect a train along any railroad tracks and obey all warning signals and signs.

ILCAD is being recognized in 40 countries worldwide today with the purpose of increasing the spotlight on railroad crossing safety. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, railroad crossing collisions and pedestrian trespassing on tracks together account for over 95 percent of all railroad fatalities.

Fortunately, there have been no fatalities along the MetroRail corridor. However, we have caught adults and children sitting or walking along the tracks and vehicles not obeying warning signals at crossings, which in one case led to a collision. Watch the video below for a collection of some of these incidents.

Over the past few years, Capital Metro has created a comprehensive rail safety program that has become a national model for other transit agencies. Capital Metro with assistance from the community-based volunteer coalition GROW (Grassroots Rail Outreach Working group) and the national rail safety non-profit organization Operation Lifesaver,  have worked to educate the community on rail safety reaching approximately 75,000 local residents.

If you would like to learn more about rail safety, check out these links:

If you are interested in a presentation for your school, neighborhood, or organization, please contact Alissa Schram at alissa.schram@capmetro.org or (512) 369-7759.

ACC Ridership Continues to Grow

With rising gas prices, limited parking and record enrollment this semester, riding Capital Metro is an easy choice for many students, faculty and staff at Austin Community College.

In March, there were 107,830 bus and rail trips made by ACC Green Pass riders. That’s a whopping 290 percent increase in ridership since the program began a little over a year ago. Continue reading “ACC Ridership Continues to Grow”