Gateway Transit

In just a few short weeks—October 2, to be exact—the ‘Dillo trolleys will circle downtown for the last time and ride into the sunset, aka the Capital Metro Bus Yard, for retirement. Routes #450 Congress ‘Dillo and #451 6th Street ‘Dillo will be suspended.RIP'Dillos

Staff recommended the suspension to help balance the budget for next year. The ‘Dillos were seen as the least disruptive service cut, because ridership on the ‘Dillos has been very low and there is alternate service along Congress, 5th and 6th Streets. (If you relied upon the ‘Dillos and are wondering which routes would be a good substitute for you, stay tuned—we’re developing a new transit map specifically for this purpose.) Continue reading “Gateway Transit”

June 2009 Service Change: ‘Dillos

Another proposal in the June 2009 Service Change is to eliminate weekend service on the ‘Dillos, both #450 Congress Ave. and #451 6th Street. Unfortunately no one is riding the ‘Dillos on weekends. Well, that’s not exactly true. On any given ‘Dillo trip made on weekends, there’s on average between two and four people on it.

You may recall that last year the ‘Dillo system got a major overhaul: In Aug. 2008 we streamlined the routes and schedules so that they could operate as they were originally intended: as downtown circulators. During the week, the ‘Dillos work great transporting downtown workers and residents to meetings, lunch, and shopping errands. On weekends, the vision was that the ‘Dillos would attract tourists, weekend shoppers, and downtown residents. And it does, just not enough of them to justify the service. Of all of Capital Metro’s routes that operate on weekends, the ‘Dillos have the fewest riders—2-4 riders per trip, as I mentioned. By contrast, #1L/1M, our busiest route, carries about 80 people per trip on weekends. The poor economy may play a role in the low ridership, since today there’s perhaps fewer tourists and weekend shoppers milling around downtown.

Public input is always sought before any service change proposal is adopted, and the public hearing about the June 2009 Service Change is today at 12:30 p.m., at Capital Metro’s headquarters, 2910 E. 5th Street.

Last chance to buy a ‘Dillo

You might remember in November we advertised some retired ‘Dillos for sale in an online auction. All told, we had 12 ‘Dillo trolleys to sell, and the last two are currently up for auction on GovDeals.

You may be asking, what can you do with an old ‘Dillo?

For inspiration, ask Karisa Prestera, who turned an old ‘Dillo into the retail outlet of her business, Taste No Evil Muffins. Karisa transformed the ‘Dillo into the whimsical store seen above and sells her muffins there six days a week.

Karisa advertises the former-‘Dillo-headquarters on her Facebook page as part of what makes her business uniquely Austin. Here is the “before” photo:
(Check out the Taste No Evil Muffin Company on Facebook for a series of photos documenting the retired ‘Dillo’s transformation.)

This particular ‘Dillo is an older model than the ones currently for sale online, possibly in service even prior to Capital Metro’s formation in 1985. The Taste No Evil Muffins trolley isn’t operational, but has a permanent home outside the eclectic Maria’s Taco Xpress on South Lamar. (Ride routes #3, 29, 331, or 338 to get to the muffin trolley.)

I mentioned to Karisa that she could upgrade her ‘Dillo to one that actually runs, and she’d love to if only she had $30,000 to spend (more or less the going rate for the other ‘Dillos we’ve sold). Instead, she is saving her dough to install convection ovens in the trolley–maybe as early as this spring–so she can move 100% of her operations into the muffin trolley. That would make Taste No Evil Muffins the first complete bakery bus. (Well maybe not the very first, but at least the very first bakery in a former ‘Dillo!)

You can bid on the two remaining ‘Dillos through Jan. 14.

Come and See the Train

The Capital MetroRail train was the star of the show at Thursday’s Holiday Hop ‘N Shop Extravaganza at the Downtown rail station. Click through the jump to watch some of the TV news coverage.

If you didn’t get to see the train, come back Saturday between 2 – 6 p.m. Santa will be there too, so be sure to bring your camera. And don’t forget the new ‘Dillo Hop ‘N Shop discount program.

Here’s a link to the Statesman’s photo album from yesterday’s event.

‘Dillos and Dale, Downtown!

Come listen to Dale Watson during lunch this Thursday at Brush Square Park. Capital Metro is kicking off the holiday shopping season with the ‘Dillo Hop ‘n Shop Extravaganza and the launch of the ‘Dillo Hop ‘n Shop Program.

In addition to the free concert, merchant booths will line Brush Square, and visitors can find out how the ‘Dillo Hop ‘n Shop Program can save them money and earn them free gifts. Visitors can also step aboard the MetroRail train for the first time, which will be parked at the Downtown Station.

How does the Hop ‘n Shop program work? You get discounts and other perks at participating stores and restaurants along the `Dillo routes just by showing your valid `Dillo fare card. Some of our partners include REI, the Alamo Drafthouse, RunTex, Little City Espresso Bar, and many others.

The ‘Dillo Hop ‘n Shop Extravaganza is this Thursday, Dec. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Brush Square Park (4th and Trinity).

Stroll on the ‘Dillo

If you’re planning to attend the annual Holiday Sing-Along, Capitol Tree Lighting and Congress Avenue Stroll on December 6 starting at 6 p.m., Capital Metro will make it easier for you to get around to the many restaurants, shops, galleries and museums that will be open for the event.

We’ll keep running the Congress Avenue ‘Dillo route until 9 p.m. You can pay just 50 cents for unlimited ‘Dillo rides for two hours. Or if you already have a 31-Day ‘Dillo Pass, that’ll work too.

If you drive your car to the festivities, you can park once and then hop on the ‘Dillo. No need to worry about the schedule. The ‘Dillo comes by every five minutes.

‘Dillo for Sale

Love ‘em or not, the ‘Dillo trolleys that circulate commuters around Downtown Austin get plenty of attention. Capital Metro even receives calls from time to time from people who ask if they can rent a ‘Dillo for private parties or even weddings. Renting a ‘Dillo is not an option. But now’s your chance if you want to buy one.

Currently Capital Metro has six surplus ‘Dillo vehicles up for auction on GovDeals. When a bus has reached its useful life span (about 10 to 12 years depending on the type of bus and how it is used), it may no longer be suitable for our rigorous schedules. But it still has value; so it’s certainly in the best interest of our taxpayers that we capture that value.

The first step is for our Procurement staff to determine the fair market value of each surplus vehicle. Then we put them up for bid after we’ve established a minimum reserve amount that we’d be willing to accept. Looks like there are only a few bids for the ‘Dillos right now. But the auction will be open until December 8.

There is always someone out there who can put old transit vehicles to good use. Anytime Capital
Metro has vehicles up for auction we try to notify businesses, social service agencies and other entities that might be interested in bidding.

If a surplus bus is not what you need, keep checking back with GovDeals. Sometimes we’ll post other surplus property such as computers and furniture.

More PARK(ing) Woes

Yesterday Adam posted an Austin Business Journal article that reported Austin as one of the most expensive cities in the nation in which to park. A comment he received:

What the article doesn’t address is that high parking prices in garages and lots lead to more and more people circling the block endlessly looking for the coveted metered spot… All the circling obviously contributes to congestion and pollution…

Today there are even fewer of those “coveted metered spots” available downtown. Today is National PARK(ing) Day, and Austin groups, like Save Our Springs Alliance, right, have turned metered parking spots throughout downtown into “mini parks” (if you can block out the whizzing noise of fast-moving and thick traffic).

The 451 ‘Dillo stops outside of Whole Foods, and there you can visit three of the renegade “parks” (I checked–all three groups had paid the meter).

Here’s Whole Foods’ Oktoberfest-themed park, complete with a jam box playing Polka tunes. Across the street, the Girl Scouts Council of Central Texas had set up camp–literally–in their parking spot, and visitors could make S’mores over a Coleman camp stove. (But eat up before you jump back on the ‘Dillo.)

If you loved the Red ‘Dillo…

We’ve been extolling the virtues of Capital Metro’s zippy new ‘Dillos, which will roll down Congress (Route #450) and 5th and 6th Streets (Route #451) beginning this Sunday, August 24.
The ‘Dillos have straightforward, easy-to-remember routes and schedules. A new ‘Dillo will be coming along every five minutes during the week and 11 minutes on weekends, making downtown travel easy.

But if you’ve been using the Orange ‘Dillo to go to lunch on Manor Road, for example, or the Silver ‘Dillo to get to Deep Eddy Pool, you might not be quite so keen (yet) on the new system. We’ve made modifications to other routes and have assembled some trip tips to provide some easy alternatives for you.

Blue Dillo: For lunchtime walk to Congress Ave. and board the 450 Congress ‘Dillo, with service every five minutes from 17th Street to Riverside.

Gold ‘Dillo: Take Route 3 from Lamar, which has been rerouted to serve ACC Rio Grande.

Orange ‘Dillo: Route 450 Congress ‘Dillo will travel to most of the places the Orange ‘Dillo would take you. For service to East Campus try Route 18 MLK or 10 Red River. For Manor Road restaurants catch Route 20.

Red ‘Dillo: Route 4 has been extended to Lake Austin Blvd. and Veterans Drive. Morning and afternoon trips will be made to Austin High School. From downtown, Route 3 will provide service to the West Campus of UT and to ACC Rio Grande.

Silver ‘Dillo: Route 4, which runs on 7th Street, will serve West 5th and 6th Streets and the Austin High area. Riders from Pleasant Valley and E. 2nd Street can use Route 17 Cesar Chavez to reach downtown.

These tips, along with lots of other information about the major changes occurring on Aug. 24, are printed in the Service Change Guide, free on all the buses and available on our Web site.