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!”

Connections 2025: Update on Route 5

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We’ve received many comments on the proposal to change Route 5 along South 5th Street because of the service gap west of South 1st Street. The original proposal discontinued service south of downtown because of the low ridership. Service would remain running parallel along South 1st Street, within ½ mile, on Route 10 (which would run every 15 minutes during peak times).

Now, our team has worked on some changes for Route 5 based on community feedback. The team presented these proposed changes to the Capital Metro board today during their Connections 2025 Work Session. Continue reading “Connections 2025: Update on Route 5”

Connections 2025: Update on Mueller

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Many comments have been received by the Connections 2025 team on the proposed changes in the Mueller area related to connectivity, transfers and access to/from UT and downtown. Because of this feedback, our team has taken a second look at the routes proposed in the area. The team presented these proposed changes to the Capital Metro board today during their Connections 2025 Work Session.

What’s the proposal?

The proposal includes several routes in the Mueller area, including Frequent Local, Local MetroRapid and a circulator.

Included in the original proposal are:

  • MetroRapid 820 on Manor from downtown to Springdale H-E-B (U.S. 183 and Springdale)
  • A weekday circulator along Berkman and Barbara Jordan connecting from Wildflower Terrace and Hancock Center
  • Route 22, an eastside crosstown route, providing Local 30-minute service along Mueller Boulevard

After hearing concerns that there was no all-day, all-week frequent service along Berkman and that part of Mueller was losing its direct connection to UT, we looked at how to improve connectivity. We’ve proposed replacing the circulator, by extending more useful frequent fixed route service into Mueller. The revised proposal includes direct access to UT and downtown on Frequent Local Route 10 and east/west connections to 38th Street on Frequent Route 335 via Berkman.

Our team did look at the alternative in operating MetroRapid Route 820 on Berkman through Mueller. However, due to the current street design, the traffic in the area would negatively impact travel times (adding 9 minutes during peak times) and route performance, while also adding $1 million in operating and vehicle costs, so it is not being recommended at this time. However, we would reintroduce the option on Berkman should the development and city provide transit priority access through the area.

muellerRevised proposal:

  • Remove circulator, replace with other frequent services
  • Route 10 serves Mueller via Mueller, Barbara Jordan, Berkman providing direct connections to Hancock Center, UT and downtown
  • Route 335 continues east to Mueller via 38th ½, Anchor, Manor and Berkman
  • Route 22 ends at Hancock Center
  • Route 820 remains on Manor

About the tradeoffs: A reality of the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan is that some people will need to change the way that they make their normal trips – which may now involve a transfer or a short walk – but what you’re getting in return is a significant bump in frequent service across our service area (increasing from 6 to 17 routes) that positively benefit the community at large, overall.

What’s next? Connections 2025 is still a draft plan at this time that continues changing based on feedback. Our team is carefully reviewing each and every response we receive as we work on finalizing this plan. The Capital Metro board will further evaluate the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan and will decide on a course to move forward with.

We continue taking feedback at Feedback@connections2025.org as the Draft Transit Plan has not been finalized. We anticipate our board of directors to vote on Final Transit Plan in December.

Visit Connections2025.org to see the updated Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan interactive map revised today.