Connections 2025: Routes 383 & 392 Update

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Long-term planning can be tricky, because it requires balancing the needs of multiple constituencies that change and evolve over time. This isn’t the case just in transit of course, but it’s something we run into all the time. The most recent example is our Connections 2025 Transit Plan, which has seen changes to some of the proposals that were included in the approved plan. That’s common with bus network redesigns.

We wanted to share with the community one of these changes, since we’ve heard concerns regarding the potential elimination of service on Route 392 north of Braker in Northeast Austin.

What was the original proposal? The approved Connections 2025 plan proposed combining Routes 383 and 392 into an east-west route operating from Lakeline Mall along Jollyville Rd. and Braker Ln. to Dessau Rd. Buses were proposed to operate every 30 minutes instead of every 35 – 40 minutes. Route 383 would no longer serve the North Lamar Transit Center, and the area north of Braker served by Route 392 would be modified into a Mobility Innovation Zone.

What is a Mobility Innovation Zone? Mobility Innovation Zones are areas where Capital Metro wants to look into mobility options other than a 40-foot bus by using various pilot projects.  That’s because the land use and road network in these parts of town make it very difficult to provide cost-effective service with a big bus. The pilot projects would likely leverage emerging technology and transportation options, whether that’s an on-demand service like Pickup , flex routes, partnerships with TNCs or something else, we’re not sure. Because these technologies and tools are emerging, we’re still exploring how the pilots would function. Staff will be taking the next 12 months to develop the pilot projects with community input before requesting board approval. When approving Connections 2025, the board instructed staff that fixed-route service north of Dessau must be retained until the Mobility Innovation Zone pilot projects have been developed.

How has the proposal been modified? In keeping with the board’s directive to maintain fixed-route service, the proposed Route 383 would travel from Lakeline Station along Jollyville Rd. and Braker Ln. When the bus reaches Dessau, it will travel along Dessau, Shropshire, Thompkins, Yeager and Parmer before ending at the Tech Ridge Park & Ride. This proposed service would operate every 30 minutes and remain in place until a Mobility Innovation Zone pilot project is ready for implementation sometime in 2019.

What’s next?  As with any Connections 2025 proposal, this modification will require public outreach and board approval before it can be implemented. We will seek public comment this fall and ask board of directors to vote on the changes toward the end of the year. Changes would be implemented in June 2018. More information about all the upcoming changes and ways to provide feedback will be available shortly after Labor Day.

Connections 2025: Get Ready for Big Changes

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Capital Metro is super excited to announce that the first significant changes coming out of Connections 2025 are scheduled to go into effect in June 2018. These proposed changes will go before our board for approval on November 15, but only after going through an extensive public input process.

The changes would affect almost every route in our system. In fact, more than half of our current 82 routes will see some level of change, with just 38 remaining the same after June 2018. The great news is that these changes will make for a more tightly integrated bus system that has more frequent service. It’s true that 14 current routes are proposed to be eliminated, but most riders of these routes will see comparable and likely even better service replace their current route.

Also, fixed-route service along low-ridership segments of Dessau, Steck and Mesa, Walsh Tarlton and Convict Hill will not be eliminated in this round of changes. These segments will transition to Mobility Innovation Zone pilot projects in 2019 after further study, public input and board approval.

We know that many of y’all are excited for the improvements that will come with the expanded High-Frequency Route Network. Those routes will provide service at least every 15 minutes seven days a week to 80 percent of our riders. So you may wonder why we don’t do this even sooner than next June. We made this decision for many reasons:

  • We need time to build new bus stops and sidewalks connections.
  • We also need to work with the city to incorporate transit priority treatments to traffic signals, allowing our buses to move more quickly and efficiently through the congestion.
  • Making changes in June minimizes disruptions to student commutes.
  • There are simply fewer vehicles on the roads in June. This will allow us to start the revised service in a “quieter” time and make any necessary tweaks in August, when the city’s business picks back up.

prm-161207-service-change-infographic-update_v22We do have some Connections 2025 changes coming sooner, though. MetroRapid Routes 801 and 803 will increase their frequencies in August, with weekday frequency increasing to every 10 minutes and weekend frequency to every 15 minutes. The service will operate until 2:30 a.m. on weekends … the first step toward 24/7 MetroRapid service!

We know the next question you’ll have is, “Which routes will be proposed to change?” We’re working on finalizing that list now and will produce a brochure to explain all the changes. We should be ready to present our proposal shortly after Labor Day, so look for the brochures on buses and Connections2025.org in mid-September. And, just like we always do with our service change process, we’ll also offer several opportunities for you to provide feedback on the proposed changes, including at public meetings the week of September 25. In addition to those formal meetings, our team will go to bus stops, back-to-school events, festivals and neighborhood meetings. Please check our online calendar in August for dates, times and locations.

For more information on the transit plan, please visit Connections2025.org. Questions may be directed to 512-369-6000 or feedback@connections2025.org.

 

Capital Metro Board Approves Transit System Overhaul

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Capital Metro’s board of directors today approved the agency’s Connections 2025 draft transit plan, allowing the agency to move forward with a bold, new vision for its transit system. Some of the key elements of the new plan involve creating a more frequent, reliable and connected network of services.

In response to feedback from thousands of people around Central Texas, Capital Metro’s updated network will take a frequency-first approach, tripling the number of bus routes running every 15 minutes or better. The agency follows industry peers TriMet in Portland, Sound Transit in Seattle, Denver Metro and Houston Metro by investing in key corridors to build core frequent service and ridership, while reducing waiting times.

Capital Metro’s new plan is designed to improve the rider experience – creating a 24/7 transit system that will see expanded MetroExpress and MetroRapid service, and more east-west options.

“Today, our board showed its dedication to improving transportation in Central Texas through smart planning,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda Watson. “Major investments to build a better bus network will kick-off in 2018, and will continue paying off over the next 10 years. Austin desperately needs more mobility options, and this plan delivers the type of innovation and services people want.”

FEATURES OF THE NEW NETWORK:

  • 2 fare types (Local and Commuter)
  • 4 MetroRapid routes (running every 7-15 minutes)
  • 13 Frequent Local routes (running every 15 minutes)
  • 23 Local routes (running every 30 minutes)
  • 4 downtown circulator routes
  • 6 UT Shuttles
  • 8 Express routes

Continue reading “Capital Metro Board Approves Transit System Overhaul”

Connections 2025 Final Work Session This Friday

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Connections 2025, Capital Metro’s study to rethink transit, has been underway for over a year and is nearing the finish line. This week, our team will talk with the board of directors at a final work session on Friday, Feb. 17. After that, the board will vote on the Final Transit Plan at their monthly board meeting on Feb. 27.

To date, we’ve met with over 100 organizations, participated in 125 community meetings with nearly 4,000 attendees, and received 6,500 survey responses. On top of that, the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan has received support from these organizations:

  • Downtown Austin Alliance
  • Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Urban Transportation Commission
  • AURA
  • Alliance for Public Transportation in Austin
  • Austin Chamber of Commerce
  • Vision Zero
  • Pedestrian Advisory Council
  • Bicycle Advisory Committee
  • Downtown Commission
  • Zipcar

Continue reading “Connections 2025 Final Work Session This Friday”

Connections 2025 – January Update

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This week, the Capital Metro board of directors took a deep dive into the numbers of our Connections 2025 study. On Monday, we reviewed the financial process, along with operating and capital costs at a special work session. Missed the meeting? Check out the presentation or view the meeting video recording online.

What’s new?

Timeline change to February
 
In order to review more financial data and additional details on the proposed innovation zones, the board has extended the study timeline to include a final work session on Feb. 17. The final Connections 2025 plan will be voted on at next month’s board meeting on Feb. 27. As always, board meetings are open to the public and can be streamed online.
Capital Metro Board of Directors – Work Session
February 17
Capital Metro Board of Directors – Action Item for Approval
February 27
Capital Metro
2nd Floor Board Room
2910 E. 5th St
Austin, TX 78702

Connections 2025 – December Plan Update

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Yesterday, the Connections 2025 team presented a project update to our board of directors at a special work session. Check out the presentation at connections2025.org.

As we’ve been talking about tweaks and tunes to specific areas in the Draft Transit Plan, we wanted to take the time to talk about the overall vision for Connections 2025. This roadmap is not a series of routes, as we describe service today, but rather a full network designed together to benefit our riders. Frequent and connected.

What’s new?

chart4Innovation Zones!

What’s that?

Last month, we highlighted four areas (Steck/Mesa, Tarrytown, Southwest Austin, and Bee Cave Road/Walsh Tarlton) in our Draft Transit Plan proposal we’ve revisited based on community feedback. These are areas in our network where we don’t see the ridership demand to justify running a full-sized bus in areas where passenger subsidies are 4-5 times our system average. Our team has developed this new concept, “Innovation Zones” as an option for providing alternative transportation service in areas where we are recommending to eliminate or consolidate bus service in the Connections 2025 plan. “Innovation Zones” would be pilot areas where we’d operate using new services, like: flex routes, transportation network companies (TNCs), micro-transit, vanpools, carshare or destination shuttles. We haven’t ironed out all the details yet, but will continue developing these “Innovation Zones” with input from our community.

Phasing and Implementation Plan

The Connections 2025 team is proposing major changes to be implemented as soon as possible, with the Frequent Network kicking-off in Fiscal Year 2018 – this is major. It means there would be very real, significant route improvements on the ground somewhere between October 2017 and September 2018. In FY 2019, we propose putting those “Innovation Zones” in place. FY 2020-2025 would be the implementation of longer-term projects including the two new MetroRapid routes, increased MetroRail frequency, additional Park & Ride capacity and transit service along IH-35.

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What’s next?

The board will convene in January for an additional work session prior to taking a final vote on the Connections 2025 Transit Plan.

Will the changes happen overnight? No, the Plan would serve as the road map for our service changes over the next five years. Following the board approval of the overall Plan, we’d host additional community outreach and would need subsequent board approval for all individual route changes prior to implementation.

Cap Metro sees ridership increase from high-frequency routes — more on the way!

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Source: Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune recently posted an article on the various ways in which the state’s largest transit agencies are trying to increase their ridership numbers. It focused heavily on the system plan Houston Metro implemented last year and the success the agency has seen since, a 3.3 percent increase since September 2015.

The article noted that Capital Metro is the only other major transit agency in the state to see an uptick in ridership during that time. Our 0.5 percent bump isn’t as significant as Houston Metro’s, but it’s a bright spot in our ridership, driven in part by the successful launch of six High-Frequency Routes in June 2015.

What’s even bigger news, though, is what’s going to happen over the next few years as we begin to implement the transformation of our own bus system, called Connections 2025. The revamp has been in the planning stage for the past year, and we’ve received a ton of input from the community, both from our riders and those who haven’t yet taken advantage of our services. Continue reading “Cap Metro sees ridership increase from high-frequency routes — more on the way!”