Teens, Who and Where Will You Be this Summer?

Shakespeare wrote:

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

Haul Pass logo

The summer, the Haul Pass, a new fare card for youth 18 and under, gives teens (and kids) unlimited bus and rail rides all summer long, plus discounts at Go Local partner businesses.

Austin is the stage. The Haul Pass is your ticket. What role will you play?

  • The Professional
    • Heads to a summer job, an internship, or volunteer work.
    • Checks the trip planner on the computer the night before work to plan the day. Always arrives 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.
    • Scans the QR code on the bus stop or texts the cross-streets or Stop ID to Dadnab (512-981-6221) to find out the next departure time
    • Keeps on budget, uses GoLocal discounts for food and well earned entertainment after a hard day at work.
  • The Scholar
  • systemmapcoverThe Explorer
  • The Artist
  • Community Organizer
    • Stays connected. #textingwhileriding
    • Searches newspapers and blogs for calendar listings of guest speakers and author talks and uses the trip planner to figure out how to get from spot to spot.
    • Keeps up with Project Connect (regional partnership exploring high-capacity transit options in Central Texas)
    • Gets friends to carpool to a Park and Ride, then journey together via Capital Metro to Barton Springs, parks and recreation centers, the mall, the movies, etc.
    • Supports local businesses, checking Go Local for businesses near destinations.
    • Convinces a parent into to try riding transit to work for a day, and consider joining a vanpool for commute. Or takes a family outing using the bus or train, like a ride across town for lunch with a grandparent, aunt or uncle.
  • The Athlete
    • An expert on loading a bike onto onboard bikeracks on MetroBus or MetroRailKnows how to do on the spot repairs after having built 2 bikes from scratch for free at Yellow Bike Project.
    • Crosstrains throughout the summer hiking, biking, swimming, boating, jogging and mixing it up with a little frisbee and hula hooping for kicks.
    • Walks to a bus stop or rail station to get that pedometer walking mileage in. 
    • Find lots of businesses on Go Local offering discounts for fitness and wellness, like yoga classes and rock climbing.
    • Explores Town Lake, Zilker Park, Pease Park, the YMCA, Austin Parks and Recreation, and more.
    • Uses the trip planner to figure out the best routes to get to practices, games, and the gym on time.
  • The Environmentalist.

The great thing about being a teen is you can be all these things. No need to permanently decide which route to take. And with unlimited bus and rail trips, you don’t have to.

So where will your Haul Pass take you this summer?

Tweet your adventures #haulpass

25th annual Capital Metro Roadeo, this weekend

Executive Vice President Elaine Timbes measures the distance on a challenge called the Judgment Stop, at last year's roadeo.

Many of my favorite bus and van operators will compete this weekend at the Capital Metro Roadeo (check the list of competitors behind the jump. Is your favorite on the list?).  The competition allows our talented employees to strut their stuff and hone their technical and customer service skills, and allows all of us a chance to get to know one another as a Capital Metro family.

It’s the best event we do, in my opinion, and I look forward to it every year. It’s open to the public, too, so come on up to Leander Station and help me cheer our guys and gals, on Saturday morning beginning at 8 a.m. Winners are announced at 2 p.m. The competition consists of a challenge course designed to test various driving skills, like the smoothness of the ride, how well you maneuver the bus through tight turns, etc. Continue reading “25th annual Capital Metro Roadeo, this weekend”

Making Your Day

Bus operator Abdel Tenouri and Linda S. Watson
Linda S. Watson thanks Bus operator (and international bus roadeo champion) Abdel Tenouri.

The leadership of StarTran, Inc., who employs 2/3 of our bus operators, arrived at Capital Metro HQ about 3:30 a.m. this morning to make bus operators’ day.

We proclaimed today Bus Operator Appreciation Day, and new CEO Linda S. Watson joined StarTran management in the wee hours to serve breakfast and personally thank our professional bus operators for their work that results in thousands of people in our community getting to work, to school, and to anywhere else they want to go, every day.


Why did we select today?  Continue reading “Making Your Day”

MetroAccess Drivers Making a Difference

One of the ways Capital Metro ensures that our system is accessible is by providing paratransit—parallel service—for those in our community whose physical or cognitive abilities limit functional use of our fixed route bus system. It works like this: once a person is enrolled in the program (information from the customer and a qualified professional, such as a doctor or caseworker, help us determine eligibility for the program), he can schedule trips on the Internet or by phone.  MetroAccess will pick him up and drop him off at his destination. It costs customers $35 per month for unlimited rides with a monthly pass.

Tito Hernandez, left, and Ted Ward are both working on their 20th year of driving for MetroAccess.

MetroAccess drivers collectively make about 2,000 trips each day. Two of those drivers are Ted Ward and Tito Hernandez. They both began working at Capital Metro in 1991. When I met with them last week, neither of them was aware that Monday was the 20th anniversary of the ADA. In a way, they’re celebrating the ADA everyday in the course of their jobs. Ted says, “MetroAccess is a great system because people can get around—go to the theaters, dinners on Friday nights—just like everyone else.” That’s the spirit of the ADA, equal access.

Tito and Ted recounted many stories of customers who left a lasting, positive impression on them about living a positive life and having a grateful heart. Once, a customer and her five-year old daughter were riding in Ted’s van, and when they reached their destination, the daughter kissed his cheek and said, “Thanks for taking care of us.” Continue reading “MetroAccess Drivers Making a Difference”

Two Champions in our Midst

StarTran Bus Operator Abdelkader Tenouri with Director of Transportation Dottie Watkins.

Capital Metro Bus Operator Abdel Tenouri just picked up a sweet new title: International Bus Roadeo Champion. It has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?

Abdel, along with Bus Operator Arthur Murillo and Gary Hosea, Phillip O’Neal, and Ted Garcia from Vehicle Maintenance, competed in the International Bus Roadeo this past weekend in Cleveland, Ohio.

Last night at the awards banquet for the competition, Abdelkader Tenouri was named the 2010 International Bus Roadeo Champion, taking first place in the 35-foot bus category.

Capital Metro’s riders will now enjoy the safe and skillful driving of two international champions within the ranks of StarTran, as Abdelkader joins three-time international champion Arthur Murillo (2002, 2005, 2008). Arthur took fourth place in the 40-foot bus category this year.

Overall, Capital Metro took 6th place as a team, competing against the largest transit authorities in the nation.

Abdel has been driving for Capital Metro for the past 14 years. I highly recommend experiencing a bus ride with our champion Abdel behind the wheel–he is courteous, positive, skilled, and always safe. He’s currently driving route #350 Airport Blvd in the afternoon/evening, Wednesdays through Saturdays. Tell him Congratulations!

23-year bus operator pro retires on his 80th birthday

Bus Operator Stephen Chang, at the helm

If you were onboard the 17 this morning between 5:30 and 9 a.m., you probably enjoyed a smooth ride under the skillful command of professional coachman Stephen Chang. You also unwittingly became a part of Capital Metro’s history, as that run was Stephen’s last–he’s retiring from Capital Metro after 23 years behind the steering wheel.

Today also happens to be Stephen’s 80th birthday–he has the distinction of being the oldest Capital Metro employee. Happy Birthday, Stephen!

Capital Metro celebrated Stephen’s milestones today with cake after he returned from his shift. Thanks, Stephen for 23 great years!

Capital Metro wishes Stephen Chang (pictured with his wife) a happy retirement.

Nerves of Steel

Okay, here’s the situation: you’re driving down the street in the right lane minding your own business when suddenly, without warning, the car next to you in the left lane cuts right in front of you to make a right turn. Oh, and did I mention that you’re driving a 30,000 pound vehicle carrying the most precious of cargo (passengers)? And if you’re somehow lucky or skilled enough to avoid hitting the car, what about the two light poles in your path as you swerve? Continue reading “Nerves of Steel”

National Dump the Pump Day is tomorrow

“If you’re serious about being green, you should be riding Capital Metro.” That was our message today at the North Lamar Transit Center, where we set up a display to demonstrate just how significant the benefits are to the environment when you take public transportation instead of driving. It’s the single greatest action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.

You’d have to use 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper for the next 45-48 years (450,000 – 480,000 sheets of paper!) to make the same positive effect on the environment as riding the bus for a single year.

Bus operator and MetroBlogger Leo Guerrero poses with a Capital Metro hybrid bus and the mountain of paper.

Tomorrow would be a perfect day to make the switch to public transit–it’s National Dump the Pump Day, and you can score some environmentally-friendly goodies, too.

Come to either the North Lamar Transit Center or the South Congress Transit Center tomorrow morning with at least five plastic grocery bags for recycling, and we’ll give you a reusable grocery bag and a 20% off coupon from EcoShoppe. We’ll be there at 6:30 a.m. until the bags run out.


Take a picture of yourself riding Capital Metro and email the photo to dumpthepump@capmetro.org for a chance to win one of 20 i-Ride eco-friendly windbreakers, or the grand-prize, a $200 gift certificate to EcoShoppe. Read the full details and the small print here.

Tweet about your Dump the Pump Day experiences! Use the hashtags #DumpThePump and #CapMetro to be part of both the local and the national movements to ride public transportation to save the planet. Have fun with it!

We have to give some props to IKON Office Solutions and Longhorn Office Products who helped us acquire 480,000 sheets of recycled paper for our demo today, as well as EcoShoppe for partnering with us on the promotion.

MetroAccess Driver Takes Silver

Capital MetroAccess Van Operator Jeff Mercer brought home a 2nd place trophy from the National Paratransit Roadeo in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 31. Competing against 61 other drivers from throughout the nation, Jeff missed first place by a mere 18 points (out of 1,000 total).

Jeff was a definite underdog in the competition, as this was his first time competing in the national competition.

Also competing from Capital Metro, and the current Texas State Bus Roadeo Champion, was MetroAccess Van Operator Ted Ward, who placed 21st nationally.

Way to go, Capital Metro!

A Tale of Two Cities?

Back in the early ’90’s I worked as a bus driver in the city of Los Angeles. There were differences and similarities with how the buses in L.A. and buses here in Austin went about doing the same thing, that is, picking up and dropping off passengers.

One of the differences was in how we operated buses in downtown. In L.A. we didn’t pick-up passengers at every corner. We pick-upped at every other corner. But there were bus stops at every corner.

Here’s how it worked. Let’s say, for fun, that you are the bus driver. And your route goes along 1st Street. Your stops would be on Los Angeles, Spring and Hill Streets, but you would skip Main, Broadway and Olive Streets. There are always other buses along your route and the stops you skipped would belong to those. But you, as the operator, would not stay in line behind the bus in front of your bus like we do so here in Austin. After you picked-up passengers, you change lanes and move in front of the other bus, which in turn, will move in front of your bus after boarding people. I always thought of it as playing leapfrog. It worked well.

I have to add that a city block in L.A. is longer than here in Austin. I can walk from 2nd to 3rd Streets while holding my breath. I’ll use Austin for an example. If you, as the bus operator, picked-up folks at 11th Street, your next stop would be at Cesar Chavez Street. That is about how far apart the bus stops are in downtown L.A.

I’ll end this tale of two cities with a quote from someone I love. “A-du-a-du-a-ta-a-ta-that’s all folks.”