A few words about productivity…

In the transit business, one of the most common ways to evaluate how well a route is doing is by measuring its productivity. There are several ways to measure a route’s productivity, such as cost per rider, riders per mile, etc. One measure that we use often around here is riders per hour, which is the number of people that ride a route per hour of service provided. For example, if 30 passengers ride a route that operates for two hours, the productivity is 15 passengers per hour.

So, what are Capital Metro’s most productive MetroBus routes?

1) Route 1L/1M (39 passengers per hour) – Continuously ranks 1st or 2nd in terms of productivity, which is one of the reasons why Lamar Boulevard, Guadalupe Street and South Congress Avenue were selected as the alignment for our first MetroRapid route.
2) Route 300 (37.5 passengers per hour) – Connects North Lamar Transit Center and South Congress Transit Center and serves many ridership generators including MetroRail stations, Reagan High School, multiple HEB grocery stores, and a Walmart.
3) Route 20 (37.1 passengers per hour) – Serves the very busy and growing Riverside corridor, as well as Manor Road.
4) Route 331 (36.7 passengers per hour) – Operates between ACC Riverside and Westgate Mall, mostly along Oltorf. ACC Riverside and Travis High School are major ridership generators. When they are in session, Route 331 can outperform Route 1L/1M.
5) Route 325 (35 passengers per hour) – Connects the densely populated Rundberg corridor with two shopping areas: Northcross Mall and the Walmart Shopping Center at Rutherford. It also has the highest percentage of Spanish-speaking passengers by far (44%).
6) Route 7 (33.8 passengers per hour) – Experienced ridership growth after it was extended to the St. John’s neighborhood in August 2010. Also serves the Dove Springs area in southeast Austin.

Did you notice that half of the highest performing routes listed above are local routes serving downtown and the other half are crosstown routes bypassing downtown? This reflects people’s changing travel patterns. Not everyone works, shops, or seeks medical services in downtown anymore. The implementation of Capital Metro’s ServicePlan 2020 has done a good job of meeting these changing patterns and improving overall productivity on our bus routes.

Service planning doesn’t only pay attention to our most productive routes, we also monitor the least productive routes. We then evaluate ways to improve productivity including rerouting, restructuring with surrounding routes, changing frequency or hours of service. To get a better idea of how we evaluate routes and make changes, check out the recording of our Service Standards & Guidelines and Spring Service Analysis webinars.

See you on the bus.

On the Busy Number 1 Route

Don’t call me Ishmael.

In his adventurous novel, “Moby Dick,” Herman Melville’s protagonist Ishmael tells us why he feels the need to go to sea. He says in part, “Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul…and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper-hand of me that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.”

How ghastly. I have never felt an urge, not even an iota of one, to assault people, even when my hypos have had me in a sturdy headlock. And certainly I have never felt a “damp, drizzly November” in any part of my soul. When I do I’ll make sure to buy more life insurance.

Poor Ishmael. He would not have made a good bus operator. It would stress him out easily. Especially if he had to work the number 1 route, which I do every weekday after I finish the Leander Express.

The number 1 is our busiest line. I drive the 1L, which goes from Tech Ridge Park & Ride at Howard Lane to Southpark Meadows, at the new shopping center at Slaughter and I-35. On the map in the schedule booklet it looks almost like the Mississippi River.

Because it is so busy and taxing on operators, I had to look at it from another angle and see what it affords me. I found a prize. It is ripe with opportunity to help others. Like assisting a visually-impaired man cross a busy downtown street so he can hop on another bus; helping an elderly lady unload her groceries; helping a young mom carry the stroller on board; helping confused out-of-towners with information; or, helping all my passengers by staying on time so they won’t miss their connecting route. These opportunities, as they pop-up, I hit out of the park like a slugger. Because I know if I allow one opportunity to help someone go without my aid, I will never get it back.

Belated Love on the Bus

Valentines Day came and went, and without a single hokey/snarky/cynical/sentimental mention on our blog! Perhaps you were out yesterday and saw Carla and David Houston’s bus, two riders who met on the 1L/1M, and then fell in love and got married. Carla entered her love story in the i-Ride contest, and now their image decorates one of our buses. All together now: Awwwww.


The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority earlier this week asked riders to submit their tales of love and romance on MTA subways, buses and trains. The best ones would get posted on the MTA Web site on Valentines Day.

Here in Austin, I had a grand idea of collecting your own stories about love and romance and Capital Metro. Austinites are at least as creative as New Yorkers, and perhaps some masterpiece date ideas would emerge–you know, for Valentines Day. Unfortunately, I got sort of busy and it never got posted. But since a burgeoning romance can spark between cross-town riders on any ol’ day of the year, I hope you’ll still offer up your stories.

I’ll start, with a true story of a blind date I had in 2007 that involved Capital Metro. That date went the way of most blind dates… nowhere; however, it was a pretty clever blind date idea, if I do say so myself.

Remember Gibson’s Austin GuitarTown project? Several 10-foot art guitar sculptures were placed all over downtown and beyond. My blind date with Jon, who I believe was a bass guitar player in a band, began at the art guitar painted with Mexican free-tailed bats at the edge of the Congress Avenue Bridge near the Radisson. The plan was this: we’d walk or ride Capital Metro to visit all of the guitars, and take pictures of each one. (I had conveniently already mapped out the location of the sculptures on a Capital Metro System Map.) It’s a little nerdy, yes, but it worked pretty good for a blind date because there was a project to complete, taking the pressure off a little.

Now, your turn!