More shelters coming to CapMetro bus stops

Welcome to the CapMetro blog, where we regularly highlight CapMetro’s many offerings and its best-in-class workforce.

Texas weather can change in an instant. One minute it’s hot and sunny, without a cloud in the sky. The next, it’s pouring rain.

CapMetro shelters help protect riders from the elements as they await their buses. Soon, even more of those shelters will be in place to keep passengers safe and comfortable.

An estimated 800 shelters have already been constructed, accounting for around a third of all CapMetro bus stops. Following a unanimous vote at CapMetro’s July board meeting, held July 25, approximately 550 more shelters will be acquired from Tolar Manufacturing Inc. The $8.4 million contract has a one-year base period, with four one-year options.

Tolar is already familiar with CapMetro, having previously constructed bus shelters for the agency.

CapMetro’s green bus shelters are being retired.

Of those 550 shelters, an estimated 150 shelters will be new to the CapMetro network. The rest will replace CapMetro’s existing ubiquitous green shelters, many of which are nearing the end of their useful lifespans.

“The new shelters are an upgrade to the old ones because they provide additional weather protection,” said Moraima Dones, a technical program/project manager at CapMetro. “They safeguard passengers from the sun, wind and rain, plus the cool paint color minimizes heat buildup.”

The new shelters will be installed by CapMetro employees.

All 500 of the shelters will be placed along fixed routes. CapMetroRapid stops already have shelters in place.

Typically, in order to qualify for a shelter, a bus stop must have a minimum of 50 boardings per day. Exceptions are, however, made in special circumstances, such as when a stop is in close proximity to social service agencies, schools, medical facilities or future development sites.

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CapMetro shelters offer riders protection from the elements, including sun and rain.

Solar power helps CapMetro light up the night

So far, about 125 CapMetro bus shelters have solar lighting.

Welcome to the CapMetro blog, where we regularly highlight CapMetro’s many offerings and its best-in-class workforce.

At CapMetro, your safety and security are our top priority all day, every day.

We are constantly searching for new – and better – ways to keep passengers and operators safe.

To that end, CapMetro is embarking upon an ambitious new program that will result in solar lighting at more than 900 bus stops systemwide within the next five years. The focus will be on fixed-route stops; all CapMetroRapid stops already have lighting.

The multi-year solar lighting program was approved by CapMetro’s board of directors at the July board meeting held July 25. The contract with SELS USA LLC calls for a one-year base period and four option years. The total cost over five years is estimated at $1.1 million.

“We are committed to providing amenities for our riders’ well-being beyond bus essential services,” said Moraima Dones, a technical program/project manager at CapMetro. “The lights are important because they provide safety, security and visibility.”

The lights need no electricity to operate, helping to promote sustainability. After initial installation expenses, the solar panels will result in years of lighting before dawn and after dusk at no cost to CapMetro.

Lights will be located at sheltered and unsheltered stops. At shelters, the lights are roof-mounted; at most unsheltered stops, lights will be placed atop existing signage poles. Stops that are heavily shaded will instead get solar streetlights mounted atop newly installed poles – something not presently in use in the CapMetro network.

Currently, there is solar lighting at approximately 165 stops – 125 stops with shelters and 40 unsheltered stops. An additional 750 stops will get similar lighting within five years, according to Kenneth Cartwright, CapMetro’s Vice President of Capital Projects.

The board unanimously approved the proposal. At the meeting, board member Eric Stratton praised Cartwright and his team for their continued efforts to increase safety and security at bus stops.

“This is phenomenal,” Stratton said. “I want to thank the staff. How amazing is this? This is a huge victory, a huge win. I want to thank you all for how responsive you’ve been to us as a board and also to the community requests on this.”

CapMetro welcomes – and encourages – your comments on our blog. Comments that are abusive in nature will be removed, in accordance with our social media policy.

Transit & Health in Black Communities

Throughout our time talking about Project Connect, we’ve been clear that an investment in transit is an investment in equity.

What we mean by that is that public transportation ridership is heavily weighted toward low-income communities and people of color. And so when we improve our services, those benefits go toward the people who need them the most.

In addition, our country’s history has resulted in a landscape tilted against Black communities, who experience worse health outcomes, higher levels of air pollution and lower levels of public services overall. Good access to strong transit can help combat those issues and more.

Some of the most obvious benefits of transit are financial. It’s expensive to own, operate and maintain a car after all, and a monthly bus pass costs just $41.25.

Some of those are safety-related. Traveling by public transit is 10 times safer than by car.

Traffic safety also affects health outcomes because people riding transit are in fewer collisions and therefore suffer fewer traffic-related injuries. Transit also brings improvements to the overall health of Black people and other communities of color in a variety of ways:

  • Transit takes cars off the roads, reducing air pollution from vehicles.
  • Transit combines with other active forms of transportation like walking and biking to and from stops or stations, enabling riders to get more exercise.
  • Transit connects people to medical centers, hospitals and doctors’ offices, giving more people access to regular healthcare appointments.
  • Transit increases access to healthier food options as well.

Public transportation can be a great equalizer for all communities and historically has been essential for Black Americans.

CapMetro Celebrates Black History Month

CapMetro honors Black History Month each February and this year’s national theme of Black Health and Wellness hits home particularly as we approach two years of living in a pandemic. 

Artist Dawn Okoro

The national theme lets us focus our thoughts on an issue that’s important for the entire community. It also ensures the entire range of the Black experience is recognized and celebrated as the years go by. 

This year, CapMetro is bringing our focus to Black History Month through a bus wrap featuring the work of local artist Dawn Okoro, whose paintings examine standards of beauty and the use of commercial imagery to influence what we desire. Okoro says that her work embodies space, movement, pattern, design, texture and color; and she’s also talked about how creating – doing the work of an artist – is an important part of her wellness journey. 

The bus featuring her work will be on the streets throughout February. Check it out! 

Our collaboration with Okoro was facilitated by our partnership with the George Washington Carver Museum, an Austin institution that has celebrated African American life in Austin for more than 40 years. The Carver Museum has art galleries, classrooms, a dance studio and theater. Its network of artists, creators of all types and community leaders makes it an indispensable force for good. Follow the Carver Museum on Instagram to view their programming throughout February to celebrate Black History Month.  

Throughout the month we’ll highlight different aspects of Black life, Black history and Black health and wellness. We’ll point to those in our community doing good, like Okoro and the folks at the African American Youth Harvest Foundation, which provides community services for underserved kids and their families. The foundation focuses on mentoring programs and the effects of behavioral health issues on its community. 

We also want to take the opportunity to share a new resource for Black Austin culture and news: the podcast Black Austin Matters from KUT. The first couple of episodes feature interviews with community leaders Chas Moore of the Austin Justice Coalition and Wilhelmina and Exalton Delco. 

CapMetro is excited for you to see the bus featuring Okoro’s artwork in the community and what else we have in store for Black History Month 2022. Watch this space.