Capital Metro is taking an exciting step on its way toward doubling both the capacity and frequency of MetroRail service. This week, we received shipment of two new trains from the manufacturer in Switzerland!
The trains were loaded onto a barge in the city of Bussnang in February for a one-month journey to Galveston, arriving last week. From there, they began their journey to Austin on six 90-foot trucks, with three additional escort vehicles. The caravan arrived in Austin around lunchtime today and was escorted by Metro Security and the Austin Police Department to our railyard in North Austin. The trains were unloaded and assembled onto the tracks.
The trains will go through a five to six-month testing period before being integrated into the MetroRail fleet, and will be instrumental in helping to increase capacity and frequency once other rail improvements are complete. Like the refurbishment of our existing train compartments, the arrival of the trains marks another important milestone in our planned enhancements to MetroRail service.
Over the next year, we will add double tracking to the 32-mile MetroRail Red Line so that trains can pass in more places. Currently, there are just two rail stations — MLK and Kramer — that have tracks on either side of the platforms, which allows both northbound and southbound trains to operate at once. When double tracking is added in other spots along the route, we’ll be able to operate the Red Line more frequently. Eventually, trains will run every 15 minutes during peak times, instead of every 30 minutes. In addition, signal improvements are also planned throughout the line to ensure safety remains our top priority.
Great things continue to happen at Capital Metro for our customers!
The Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix is returning to Austin Nov. 15 – 17, and Capital Metro is in on the action!
During Formula 1’s premiere in Austin in 2012, the total weekend attendance was over 260,000. As a result of its expanded MetroRail service last year, Capital Metro saw a dramatic surge in weekend ridership, including a 435 percent increase over a typical Saturday.
This year, F1 fans can again take advantage of Capital Metro’s expanded MetroRail service during the weekend. Trains will operate from northwest Austin to downtown on the following schedule:
Saturday, Nov. 16: 8 a.m. – Midnight (Service to all MetroRail stations except Leander)
Sunday, Nov. 17: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Service to all MetroRail stations except Leander)
MetroRail’s route is divided into two fare zones. The cost to ride one zone is $1, or $2.75 if you cross the fare zone boundary between Howard and Kramer stations. You can buy a MetroRail pass at ticket vending machines on station platforms or at the Transit Store, located downtown at 209 W. 9th Street.
The Nov. 15 – 17 weekend will prove to be a busy one, not only because of F1 but also because of Austin Fan Fest and the Nov. 16 UT football game. Buses will run as usual throughout the weekend, though riders can expect some route changes in the downtown area. Detours will begin on Nov. 14. Access all downtown routes – with the exception of MetroAirport – along Guadalupe and Lavaca from Nov. 15 – 18.
MetroAirport service from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to downtown will run its regular schedule from early in the morning until late at night.
Plan your fun! Find the latest F1-related transit information including routes, schedules, detours and a helpful trip planner at capmetro.org/f1.
Thursday marked a historic day for Capital Metro. Joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Capital Metro President and CEO, Capital Metro Board Chair Mike Martinez and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, announced that Capital Metro was a recipient of an $11.3-million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant.
The grant will enable Capital Metro to advance a number of rail improvements, including increasing the speed at which MetroRail trains operate, and beginning or completing several state-of-good- repair projects. Additionally, the funding will provide operational flexibility for future service enhancements.
The $11.3-million TIGER grant will support several commuter and freight rail enhancements at Capital Metro, including:
• Railway and signal timing improvements that will help reduce vehicle delays and rail traffic congestion.
• Commuter rail improvements, including additional sidings and double tracking in the most critical areas, which are projected to increase ridership capacity by 15 percent and reduce commute times by five to ten minutes.
• Freight rail enhancements, including the replacement of several bridges, and rail rehabilitation and realignments that will increase speeds and enhance safety while doubling freight capacity and improving reliability.
“These TIGER projects are the best argument you can make for investment in our transportation infrastructure,” said Secretary Foxx. “Projects such as Austin’s efforts to improve its freight and passenger rail network, ensure a stronger transportation system for future generations by repairing existing infrastructure, connecting people to new jobs and opportunities, and contributing to our nation’s economic growth.”
The reality is, MetroRail ridership is booming. Since the Red Line launched in 2010, ridership is up 225%, proving if you build it, they will come.
And come they have. MetroRail is now averaging over 65,000 boardings a month, with trains at full capacity during peak hours. In 2012, we saw our one millionth passenger trip and it’s very clear to that demand is only going to increase as the region continues to grow.
It’s also clear that people have come to view MetroRail as one of their best options to connect to the places and events they want to go.
Take South by Southwest as an example. MetroRail first served the annual conference in 2011 and since then, ridership has increased by over 65%. But it’s not just SXSW — During the inaugural Formula 1 race at the Circuit of the Americas, MetroRail had nearly 14,000 boardings, including almost 2,000 on the special Sunday service that was added to accommodate the demand. We’re expecting even more demand for MetroRail when race fans return to Austin this November. Also, nearly 22,000 people have taken MetroRail to get to the popular Pecan Street Festival since 2010.
The Red Line certainly gets people moving, and gets them to the places they want to be. It also gets them there on time. Historically, MetroRail has an on-time performance record of 99%.
But it’s not just MetroRail ridership that’s increased — economic development along the Red Line is booming.
For example, Midtown Commons is a transit-oriented development located next to Crestview station. Prior to MetroRail, this area was a brownfield—which means it was a former petrochemicals plant. Now, it’s a vibrant and modern, mixed-use development that includes a brewery, retail shops, live & work units, and apartments—with an integrated transit plaza that provides easy access to a wide variety of destinations.
In fact, Midtown Commons Manager, Heidi Piper, has said they located their development at Crestview as a commitment to providing housing in transit-rich locations.
MetroRail has been a factor in more than $95-million in new development so far around Capital Metro’s nine stations, with another $283-million in various stages of development.
Capital Metro was one of 52 recipients of TIGER grants.
More than 585 applications totaling $9 billion in requests were received for this round’s availability of $474 million grants. The money is designated as investments in high-impact port, road, rail and transit projects.
Capital Metro is among eight transit agencies that were awarded Operation Lifesaver (OLI) rail safety project grants. This grant is part of Capital Metro’s ongoing commitment to safety and will enable our agency to further our efforts in keeping safety our top priority.
What are our plans for the grant?
We’ll target middle school students, by blitzing them with educational materials, a youth-produced video and a 15-month outreach campaign involving peer mentors and lesson plans for educators, a new website and school outreach events.
“Capital Metro has the highest commitment to safety and is very pleased to receive an Operation Lifesaver Rail Transit Safety Education Grant, which will be used for an innovative, yearlong rail safety education program for middle school students,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson. “This grant affirms our continuing relationship with Operation Lifesaver, and will allow us to partner with Creative Action, the largest provider of after school arts programming in Central Texas, on a totally unique rail safety video that the students themselves will create. Studies show that young people are leaders in public transit usage, and this project will encourage our local students to lead the way in transit safety, as well.”
The evolution of Capital Metro’s commitment to a walkable, bicycle-friendly, connected region continued Friday, August 02, 2013 as the urban trail connecting Crestview and Highland stations officially opened. The nearly one-mile long trail, created in conjunction with the City of Austin, connects transit hubs, businesses and the forthcoming Austin Community College (ACC) Highland Campus.
“The Crestview/Highland trail is really about connections and Capital Metro has been working hard to develop a comprehensive regional system, through efforts like Project Connect, to address the needs of a growing region,” said President/CEO Linda S. Watson. “Providing sustainable, safer transportation options like this trail extend the reach of the transit system and encourage healthy habits that will improve the quality of our communities. It also means we can offer more choices for people to get out of traffic and navigate the community in other ways.”
Joined by partners including the City of Austin, who displayed a demo of the forthcoming bike share program, Bike Austin, Bike Texas and CAMPO, the event showcased the best of what collaboration can do to create meaningful, useful solutions for everyone.
Juneteenth* weekend is a wonderful time of family and community celebration.
Austin’s annual Juneteenth Parade and Celebration hosted by the Greater East Austin Youth Association (GEAYA) takes place on Saturday, June 15, 2013. The parade route starts at 10am on MLK and Comal, and ends at Rosewood and Chestnut.
MetroRail, Capital Metro’s commuter rail with 9 stops between Downtown Austin and Leander, runs through a portion of Rosewood Park. The parade ends before the railroad crossing, and with a mix of physical barriers and personnel staffing, our security, safety, and community involvement teams work closely with the City of Austin, Austin Police Department and others to ensure celebration participants have safe passage as they travel to/from the parade route to festivities at Doris Miller and Rosewood Park.
“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…”
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?
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.
Uses the time spent commuting by bus or train to read books and periodicals, for summer reading lists and summer courses, from the Austin Public Library and BookPeople (using Go Local discount, off course).
System map in a pocket, Go-Line memorized (512-474-1200), knows this travel training will pay off in future adult life, filled with visits to other major cities around the US, a study abroad college semester, and who knows, maybe a win on Amazing Race (or at least a local scavenger hunt like Challenge Nation).
Carries a journal or sketchbook, a great pen, a digital camera (or cell phone).
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.