How to Ride MetroRail: Rail Connectors

Hey, check it out. If you’re planning to ride MetroRail next week and you work around UT or the Capitol, you might find one of five new Rail Connector bus routes very useful for getting to your final destination. Three of these connector routes pick up at the Downtown Station, and another two connect with MLK Station.

All of the routes are designed so that the bus is waiting for you when you deboard the train at MLK or Downtown Station. You have three minutes to get off the train and board the bus. In the afternoon, the rail connectors will drop you off at the station with between 8 – 13 minutes to spare before your train leaves. Click through for specifics on each of the five connectors, including maps. Continue reading “How to Ride MetroRail: Rail Connectors”

ServicePlan2020

Capital Metro’s bus service is going under the microscope. Capital Metro: ServicePlan2020 is a comprehensive operational analysis of every aspect of Capital Metro’s bus service. The resulting recommendations will become our roadmap for growth over the next 10 years.

Most big transit agencies do some kind of major analysis of their services and routes periodically. It’s a beneficial process, as routes tend to morph over time into a spaghetti bowl. A relevant example is the ‘Dillo routes before they were streamlined last year. Likewise, it’s an opportunity to thoroughly examine procedures and generally improve the system.

Capital Metro is way overdue for this type of mid-range planning. Some of the legwork for ServicePlan2020 has already been completed. Last year, Capital Metro completed a market segmentation study that yielded a considerable amount of information about rider demographics, barriers to riding, and what people like and don’t like about us. That info is one dimension of the analysis. Other factors to be included are: existing system conditions (what works and what doesn’t) and community participation and feedback.

ServicePlan2020 makes progress this week when two stakeholder committees convene and begin their work, analyzing various service aspects and identifying unmet needs. A Technical Advisory Committee (made up of planner types from allied transportation entities) and a Community Advisory Committee (representative of riders and community groups who have a key stake in public transportation) will meet periodically over the course of the year to refine ServicePlan2020. We want your involvement, too, and we’ll post updates and open house meeting information here as things go along.

June 2009 Service Change: Express Routes

We’ve begun shopping around Capital Metro’s June 2009 service change proposal. One of the items in the proposal is changes to and the possible elimination of some express route trips in the Northwest corridor, on routes 984, 986 and 987.

After the Capital MetroRail Red Line begins full service, Capital Metro will evaluate ridership on both the Red Line and routes 984, 986 and 987 for some weeks to determine if any trips on these express routes could be trimmed. In particular, routes 984 and 986 parallel the Red Line. Those trips with similar departures as the Red Line could potentially be eliminated or consolidated with 987. However, we really won’t know until after the Red Line has been in full operation a little while and we see where the ridership trends are.

Going multi-modal is a big deal, and while our planners have a lot of tools and expertise at their disposal to predict ridership patterns and need for service, it’s not a perfect science. It made pragmatic sense to go ahead and propose potential changes to 984, 986, and 987 now, so that we have the ability to make any needed changes after the Red Line begins to best allocate our resources and coordinate bus and rail services.

As with every service change (three times per year), it’s a public process, and we invite your participation. Capital Metro staff is hosting two community meetings this week, and the Capital Metro Board welcomes your input at a public hearing.

Public Meetings:

Thursday, March 12
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Capital Metro Customer Service Center, 323 Congress Ave.

Thursday, March 12
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Capital Metro Customer Service Center, 323 Congress Ave.

Public Hearing:

Friday, March 13
12:30 p.m.
Capital Metro Headquarters, 2910 East 5th St.

Cold Weather Buses

Brrr. It’s getting cold outside. A winter storm warning will be in effect this evening. Right now Capital Metro has no plans to alter its bus schedules or MetroAccess services because of the weather. People depend on us rain or shine (or snow or ice), and it’s a rare event when we reduce services because of the weather.

Whenever freezing temperatures threaten, we actually increase one service, what we call our “cold weather buses.” It’s one part of a citywide effort to help Austin’s homeless stay warm on a cold night. Working with the Office of Emergency Management, the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, and several other local organizations, Capital Metro provides special transportation from ARCH to area shelters for the night, and then returns people in the morning.

Capital Metro’s cold weather buses have already been called into service for this evening. Stay warm!