Texan by Nature 20 Awards: CapMetro recognized for conservation efforts

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

CapMetro’s continuing commitment to conservation has been recognized with a statewide award.

The agency learned this week it was named a Texan by Nature 20 (TxN 20) recipient, joining 19 other Lone Star State businesses cited as the best of the best when it comes to protecting the environment.

Other recognizable names on the 2022 list are a handful of Austin-based firms, including tech giant Cirrus Logic and Yeti, maker of trendy coolers, thermoses, koozies and more. See the full list here.

The TxN 20 list first debuted in 2019, with a focus on 12 industries. CapMetro is being honored in the midsize Transportation category.

“Sustainability is central to the mission of CapMetro and is reflected as a core value,” said Dottie Watkins, interim CapMetro president and CEO. “Sustainability is built into our commitment to the region and the community of Central Texas as a guiding principle of Project Connect. Some of the objectives include building an all-electric fleet, using renewables like solar and wind as major sources of energy, and using the most advanced systems to reduce water use and waste in all operations.”

The CapMetro board and members of the Executive Management Team lead the sustainability charge, which filters down to employees throughout the organization.

CapMetro has focused in recent years on acquiring vehicles with multiple features to help further conservation and sustainability efforts:

Zero-emission CapMetroBuses

  • North Operations Center can currently accommodate 180 electric buses
  • Currently 12 electric buses in service; 200 more on the way in the next four years

CapMetroBikes

  • System improved and expanded
  • Bike racks on each CapMetroBus; bike hooks on CapMetroRail
  • Transit facilities connected to bike trails
  • Gold rating from League of American Cyclists Bicycle Friendly Business since 2016

Zero-emission CapMetro fleet vehicles

  • Electric fleet vehicles for operations staff, including several Nissan Leafs, with more on the way

“This recognition by TxN validates that we are on track and leading the industry in sustainable and operational practices that truly make a difference,” said Rob Borowski, CapMetro’s sustainability officer. “TxN brings together people and organizations of all types to implement real solutions – making this recognition even more powerful. It is both an honor to be selected, and a challenge to us to keep innovating.”


>> READ: CapMetro’s Sustainability Vision Plan


Examples of long-term conservation methods undertaken by CapMetro include:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions: Carbon neutral by 2040, consistent with the City of Austin Climate Equity Plan
  • Zero waste: 90 percent reduction of waste to landfills by 2040, consistent with the City of Austin Zero Waste Strategic Plan
  • Water and nature: Sustainably manage water resources and enhance nature and natural systems through conservation and green infrastructure. 
  • Sustainable buildings and infrastructure: Use sustainable design guidelines and rating systems (Envision, Austin Energy Green Building, LEED) to guide all capital projects. 
  • Equity and livable communities: Leverage transit resources to enhance sustainability, connectivity and access to opportunities; and create livable places, especially in historically disinvested communities. 

Short-term objectives are embedded in CapMetro operations and projects through these action areas: 

  • Energy: Reduce the energy used in our current facilities and operations through a comprehensive energy management program. Renewable energy is the first choice. 
  • Sustainable and zero-emission fleet: Transition all revenue and non-revenue fleets to zero-emission. 
  • Water and natural world: Assess all assets and properties for opportunities to conserve, restore and enhance natural areas, improve biodiversity, increase native plants and protect watersheds and water resources. 
  • Zero waste and natural resource management: Manage operations to reduce the amount of waste generated and prioritize options, such as surplus using, repurposing, asset management, organics management and recycling.
  • Green buildings and infrastructure: Design all new buildings and capital projects to prioritize the highest practical environmental and sustainability performance and to support net zero carbon goals within the established timeframes.
  • Environmental and sustainability management: Reestablish and implement an Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) that supports our goals to reduce climate footprint, reduce environmental impact and improve facility resiliency.  

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.

‘Gone bananas!’ What’s up with CapMetro’s safety campaign? 

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

By Blythe Nebeker and Gary Dinges

You may have seen CapMetro’s latest safety campaign while walking around town, riding a bus or train, or maybe on social media. It’s eye-catching, dad-joke worthy and something that’s making people of all ages do a double-take. Many are left wondering, how in the world did they come up with that? You can thank Bananaman.CapMetro internal communications specialist Megan Sexton unintentionally got the ball rolling.  

Meet Bananaman, the inspiration for the latest CapMetro safety campaign.

“This creepy banana plushie popped up on my Amazon as something I might be interested in,” she explained. “It was absolutely random. I had no clue why Amazon would think I needed something like that. But also, our team is kind of random in that same way. I thought it could be a silly thing to bring to the office.” 

It became a fun game for the Marketing and Communications Department to secretly move Bananaman around for new people to find, but no one could’ve predicted what he would inspire.  

As this year’s Safety Month approached, CapMetro’s team of designers was preparing to create a fresh batch of advertisements, so a brainstorming session was on the docket. But just like how all meetings usually begin, there was some small talk beforehand and that was focused, of course, on our beloved Bananaman.  

“The idea just popped into my head, ‘Hey, why don’t we use Bananaman as our safety mascot, and use him to tell important stories about transit safety around the city?’ From there, the creative team started riffing on all the possible situations to put him in,” said creative manager Paul Del Bosque.

Besides being an avid foodie, CapMetro senior creative communications designer Jordan Golembeski is known by his colleagues for always looking for opportunities to inject humor into his designs. So a campaign with food and humor was right up his alley.

“With something like safety, it’s very serious and not necessarily something you joke about,” he said. “But, if you make the campaign about it a little silly, the message will stick better.” 

And he would know. His master’s thesis was all about using humor to address serious topics.  

Back in 2017, he helped create a campaign to try and decrease the number of rear-end collisions that were happening involving our buses. Rather than add more reflector tape to the back of our vehicles, which was a suggestion, he took it in a different direction. He wanted to use humor to help emphasize the importance of keeping a safe distance behind our buses. It worked. The number of rear-end collisions dropped noticeably.

Humorous campaigns, such as this one from 2017, catch the attention of motorists.

But, that’s not the only example. The MarCom team has been behind plenty of creative campaigns over the years, including a Halloween-themed one branded as “Witches Be Trippin’.” 

The popular “Witches Be Trippin'” campaign is another example of the MarCom team’s creativity.

Fast-forward a few years, and the team was eager to produce another, in Golembeski’s words, “groanworthy” campaign.  

@capmetroatx

Has CapMetro gone bananas with its ads? Find out what makes this safety campaign so appealing #linkinbio #fyp #publictransit #austintexas

♬ original sound – Minions

And with the help of Corey Marquart, a creative communications specialist at CapMetro, who created the tag line “Safety is Appealing,” it was all coming together.  

“If you use objects that you wouldn’t normally use and turn it into a character, it’ll be more memorable for those who see it,” Golembeski said. “We then took it a step further, by adding puns. It might be a little ‘groanworthy,’ but people will likely remember the underlying message more because it makes them stop.”  

Within about a week of coming up with the idea, the team had something to present to the CapMetro Safety Department.  

“The idea morphed into using real bananas dressed up with goofy eyes, hair and facial expressions,” Del Bosque said. “We brought bunches of bananas into the office and started designing the characters for a photoshoot.” 

It was truly a collaborative effort – and it paid off. The Safety Department loved the campaign as much as the MarCom team did.  

Jordan Golembeski, left, and Brandon Guidry conducted a photo shoot early on for the banana campaign.
Banana cones can be found at CapMetro bus stops and rail stations.

The campaign garnered so much praise that it was extended beyond just a single month. Golembeski had been eyeing these banana cones for months, hoping one day CapMetro would have a use for them. This was the perfect opportunity.  

The campaign is doing exactly what CapMetro wanted it to do: catching the attention of Central Texans – even those who don’t currently use the service. So don’t be surprised if you continue to see the bananas make appearances around town. 

To learn more about the role Bananaman plays in our 24/7/365 commitment to safety, visit our safety page

An Austinite took to Reddit to praise our latest safety campaign. A total of 522 Reddit users weighed in on the post.

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.

2022 Austin City Limits Music Festival: Let CapMetro help you get to Zilker Park

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

The 2022 Austin City Limits Music Festival is just around the corner, attracting an estimated 75,000 attendees each day. 

That means the area’s already packed streets will be even more crowded than usual. Thankfully, the CapMetro family is up for the challenge, here to help you safely get to Austin’s Zilker Park Oct. 7-9 and Oct. 14-16.

A number of CapMetro routes stop at or near Republic Square in Downtown Austin, where ACL Fest’s official shuttles will arrive and depart. Republic Square is located along Guadalupe Street between West Fourth and West Fifth streets, adjacent to the federal courthouse.

>>MORE: CapMetro Service for Austin City Limits October 7-9 & 14-16

These are some of the routes citywide that will get you to Republic Square: 1 (North Lamar/South Congress), 2 (Rosewood), 3 (Burnet/Menchaca), 4 (Seventh Street), 5 (Woodrow/Lamar), 6 (East 12th), 7 (Duval/Dove Springs), 10 (South First/Red River), 17 (Cesar Chavez), 19 (Bull Creek) and 20 (Manor Road/Riverside). Check the CapMetro app to find complete schedules and to plan the route that works best for you.

CapMetroRapid Route 803 (Burnet/South Lamar) can get you directly to Zilker’s doorstep without a need for the shuttles. Heading north, park and board at the Westgate Transit Center. Heading south, park and board in the Domain area.

While you’re out and about, look for our uniformed CapMetro ambassadors. They can help you find your way to the festival and answer any questions you may have about our services.

Whichever route you choose, be sure to buy your pass ahead of time using the CapMetro app to speed things up. (Remember: Kids ride free!)

Rather ride a bike than a bus? We can do that, too. CapMetroBike, which has 75 bikeshare locations across the region, is another option. Valets will be on hand to collect bikes at Barton Springs Road and Sterzing Street, just steps from Zilker, to ensure you’ve got a space to park.

However you plan to get to Zilker, know that you can count on Team CapMetro for safe, reliable service at an affordable price – leaving you with plenty of extra cash to spend on merch and trips to the food/beverage tents.

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.

Best routes for ACL Fest attendees

1 (North Lamar/South Congress)

2 (Rosewood)

3 (Burnet/Menchaca)

4 (Seventh Street)

5 (Woodrow/Lamar)

6 (East 12th)

7 (Duval/Dove Springs)

10 (South First/Red River)

17 (Cesar Chavez)

19 (Bull Creek)

20 (Manor Road/Riverside)

803 (Burnet/South Lamar)

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.

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.

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