Solar power helps CapMetro light up the night

So far, about 125 CapMetro bus shelters have solar lighting.

Welcome to the CapMetro blog, where we regularly highlight CapMetro’s many offerings and its best-in-class workforce.

At CapMetro, your safety and security are our top priority all day, every day.

We are constantly searching for new – and better – ways to keep passengers and operators safe.

To that end, CapMetro is embarking upon an ambitious new program that will result in solar lighting at more than 900 bus stops systemwide within the next five years. The focus will be on fixed-route stops; all CapMetroRapid stops already have lighting.

The multi-year solar lighting program was approved by CapMetro’s board of directors at the July board meeting held July 25. The contract with SELS USA LLC calls for a one-year base period and four option years. The total cost over five years is estimated at $1.1 million.

“We are committed to providing amenities for our riders’ well-being beyond bus essential services,” said Moraima Dones, a technical program/project manager at CapMetro. “The lights are important because they provide safety, security and visibility.”

The lights need no electricity to operate, helping to promote sustainability. After initial installation expenses, the solar panels will result in years of lighting before dawn and after dusk at no cost to CapMetro.

Lights will be located at sheltered and unsheltered stops. At shelters, the lights are roof-mounted; at most unsheltered stops, lights will be placed atop existing signage poles. Stops that are heavily shaded will instead get solar streetlights mounted atop newly installed poles – something not presently in use in the CapMetro network.

Currently, there is solar lighting at approximately 165 stops – 125 stops with shelters and 40 unsheltered stops. An additional 750 stops will get similar lighting within five years, according to Kenneth Cartwright, CapMetro’s Vice President of Capital Projects.

The board unanimously approved the proposal. At the meeting, board member Eric Stratton praised Cartwright and his team for their continued efforts to increase safety and security at bus stops.

“This is phenomenal,” Stratton said. “I want to thank the staff. How amazing is this? This is a huge victory, a huge win. I want to thank you all for how responsive you’ve been to us as a board and also to the community requests on this.”

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June Safety Month: Safety & Security

We’re serious about safety – and that includes making sure customers are safe on board our services and at CapMetro facilities. CapMetro is changing how we respond to calls and how to promote customer and staff safety. Our multi-pronged approach features:

  • Public safety ambassadors who serve as the primary contacts for customers and employees and respond to safety matters that do not require a police officer
  • On-staff social workers to respond to quality-of-life issues on the system and provide mental health first aid training to CapMetro employees
  • More security cameras and safety infrastructure on vehicles and at facilities for faster identification and handling of issues
  • Transit-focused police officers for specific instances when law enforcement is truly needed

And you can help. If you see something, say something. We have four ways for you to report disruptive, unsafe or suspicious behavior you may see on board our vehicles or at our facilities.

  • Use the CapMetro App and choose “More” to select “Report Public Safety Issue” to make a report. The app also allows you to call 911 directly in case of an emergency.
  • Download the See Say Now app (iOS and Android) and choose CapMetro under “Transit.”
  • Use this webform.
  • Use the Text-a-Tip feature to send your report to 512-488-4200.

We can all work together to make transit safer for everyone. Safety is our top priority not just for June Safety Month, but every month and every day.

This video follows our Public Safety Ambassadors for a day along the CapMetro system.

Capital Metro Expands Public Safety Program

To support our customers and staff members and to meet the needs of our growing community, Capital Metro is expanding our Public Safety program. With more resources being directed toward transit-centered public safety, CapMetro can better respond to the safety needs on our expanding system.

The Public Safety Department will consist of three core functions:

  • Public Safety Ambassadors
  • Intervention Specialists
  • Transit Police

These specialized and dedicated resources will help fulfill CapMetro’s transit safety efforts.

Within the next 18 months, CapMetro will develop new policies as well as hire and train members of the Public Safety Department. Throughout this process, CapMetro will continue to engage with customers, staff and the community.

In January, CapMetro hired two social workers and a public safety supervisor, who now leads a team of public safety ambassadors. Those ambassadors serve as the primary contacts for customers and employees and respond to safety matters that do not require police officers .

While CapMetro looks forward to our continued partnership with the Austin Police Department, day-to-day policing will soon be conducted by CapMetro’s transit police, who will be able to focus their time and efforts on specific transit-security needs.

“Central Texas doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago We recognize the area is growing, and it’s important that our Public Safety Department grow with it, so we can continue to provide safe transportation to the community we serve”

Chief Safety Officer Gardner Tabon