Increased frequency to Night Owls to debut Sunday with August 2012 Service Changes

Three times a year, Capital Metro looks at what can be done to better our overall transit system. Starting Sunday, Aug. 19, Capital Metro will introduce changes to service, designed to create more efficient routes and improve overall system service. Capital Metro constantly analyzes routes and evaluates customer feedback. Three times a year, Capital Metro makes these needed changes that are in accordance with Capital Metro’s Service Guidelines and Standards to create a better system.

Service changes will include:

Route Realignments  Capital Metro will realign two services:

o        30 Barton Creek  Will no longer service the Barton Hills/Hollow Creek neighborhood due to low ridership. Frequency in the Spyglass neighborhood will be improved from 70 to 35 minutes.

o        323 Anderson  Will be realigned from Ed Bluestein to Springdale and Tuscany to improve coverage.

Night Owl Routes  Several routes will be realigned to improve directness and reduce travel time. Frequency will be improved on routes 483, 484, 485 and 486. Night Owl service will no longer be available along south Manchaca, west William Cannon, South 1st, Braker, Springdale, 7th and Cesar Chavez due to low ridership.

o        481 Night Owl North  Will be renamed 481 Night Owl North Lamar.

o        482 Night Owl East  Will be consolidated with Route 485 Night Owl Cameron. (Refer to new Route 485 for more details)

o        483 Night Owl Southeast  Will be realigned to Riverside, Burton, Oltorf and Wickersham. Frequency will be improved from 60 to 30 minutes. Route will be renamed 483 Night Owl Riverside.

o        484 Night Owl S. Lamar/S. 1st  Will be realigned to serve only the South Lamar area. Frequency will be improved from 60 to 30 minutes. Route will be renamed 484 Night Owl South Lamar.

o        485 Night Owl Cameron  Will be realigned to Rosewood, Airport, Mueller, 51st, Cameron and Rutherford (Wal-Mart). Frequency will be improved from 60 to 30 minutes.

o        486 Night Owl Dove Springs  Will be realigned to South Congress, Stassney, PleasantValley and William Cannon. Frequency will be improved from 60 to 30 minutes. Route will be renamed 486 Night Owl South Congress.

UT Shuttles  Route and schedule adjustments will be made to the following University of Texas Shuttles:

o        641 EC East Campus  Midday frequency will be reduced from 7 to 10 minutes during fall and spring semesters.

o        652 PRC Pickle Research Campus  Frequency will be reduced from 35 to 60 minutes during fall and spring semesters. Route will be realigned within the Pickle Research campus.

o        675 WL Wickersham Lane– Midday frequency will be reduced from 15 to 20 minutes during fall, spring and finals.

Minor schedule adjustments will be made to the following routes to improve reliability:

o        4 Montopolis

o        7 Duval/Dove Springs

o        19 Bull Creek

o        30 Barton Creek

o        101 N. Lamar/S. Congress

o        151 Allandale

o        243 Wells Branch

o        323 Anderson

o        338 Lamar/45th

o        383 Research

o        466 Kramer

Select school-related trips will be reinstated or added to the following routes:

o        4 Montopolis

o        5 Woodrow/South Fifth

o        7 Duval/Dove Springs

o        300 Govalle

o        325 Ohlen

o        331 Oltorf

o        333 William Cannon

o        E-Bus routes, 410, 411 and 412

All of the changes, in addition to route schedules and maps, can be found in the Destinations schedule book, available for $3 at the Capital Metro Transit Store. The Transit Store is located at 323 Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. The guide is also downloadable at no cost on the Capital Metro website.

Details on the service change process can also be found on the Capital Metro website or by viewing this video.

August 2012 Service Change details also available in Spanish. (En Español)

Proposed June 2012 Service Changes

Capital Metro changes service three times a year, in conjunction with UT and AISD academic calendars. The following is a summary of proposed changes for June 2012:

Summer reductions – UT Shuttle service is reduced during the summer to reflect ridership and enrollment. Ebus service and select trips targeting high-ridership middle schools are suspended until August.

MetroRail schedule adjustment – 1 morning round-trip and 1 afternoon round-trip would be added (including a much-desired 5:55pm Downtown departure). A midday trip would be shortened from Lakeline to Howard to accommodate freight rail. Travel times would also be reduced by 15 percent.

Route realignment to improve customer access – CR Cameron Rd shuttle would be realigned to the Mueller redevelopment (Dell Pediatric Research Institute and Moasic Apartments). Route 18 MLK, Jr./Enfield would be realigned out of MLK Station. A stop would be added at MLK at Alexander Ave.

Schedule adjustments due to high ridership – Saturday frequency on Route 1L/1M North Lamar/South Congress would be improved from 16-20 to 13-18 minutes. This improvement will benefit many weekend customers. It’s important to note that service improvements to Route 1L/1M North Lamar/South Congress on Saturdays would be made possible by the following service reductions:

Schedule adjustments due to low ridership – Early morning frequency on Route 5 Woodrow/South Fifth would be reduced from 40 to 50 minutes. Select trips on Route 935 Tech Ridge would be consolidated to improve efficiency. We have seen a strong correlation between gas prices and commuter ridership and will continue to monitor both closely. Select trips on Route 135 Dell Limited would be eliminated as a result of Route 935 changes. Route 499 Day Labor would be eliminated.

A critical component of the service change process is public involvement. Customer feedback helps Capital Metro fine-tune the service change package and ultimately improve service.

Click here for more information on all of the service change proposals, including details on how to provide feedback.

A few words about productivity…

In the transit business, one of the most common ways to evaluate how well a route is doing is by measuring its productivity. There are several ways to measure a route’s productivity, such as cost per rider, riders per mile, etc. One measure that we use often around here is riders per hour, which is the number of people that ride a route per hour of service provided. For example, if 30 passengers ride a route that operates for two hours, the productivity is 15 passengers per hour.

So, what are Capital Metro’s most productive MetroBus routes?

1) Route 1L/1M (39 passengers per hour) – Continuously ranks 1st or 2nd in terms of productivity, which is one of the reasons why Lamar Boulevard, Guadalupe Street and South Congress Avenue were selected as the alignment for our first MetroRapid route.
2) Route 300 (37.5 passengers per hour) – Connects North Lamar Transit Center and South Congress Transit Center and serves many ridership generators including MetroRail stations, Reagan High School, multiple HEB grocery stores, and a Walmart.
3) Route 20 (37.1 passengers per hour) – Serves the very busy and growing Riverside corridor, as well as Manor Road.
4) Route 331 (36.7 passengers per hour) – Operates between ACC Riverside and Westgate Mall, mostly along Oltorf. ACC Riverside and Travis High School are major ridership generators. When they are in session, Route 331 can outperform Route 1L/1M.
5) Route 325 (35 passengers per hour) – Connects the densely populated Rundberg corridor with two shopping areas: Northcross Mall and the Walmart Shopping Center at Rutherford. It also has the highest percentage of Spanish-speaking passengers by far (44%).
6) Route 7 (33.8 passengers per hour) – Experienced ridership growth after it was extended to the St. John’s neighborhood in August 2010. Also serves the Dove Springs area in southeast Austin.

Did you notice that half of the highest performing routes listed above are local routes serving downtown and the other half are crosstown routes bypassing downtown? This reflects people’s changing travel patterns. Not everyone works, shops, or seeks medical services in downtown anymore. The implementation of Capital Metro’s ServicePlan 2020 has done a good job of meeting these changing patterns and improving overall productivity on our bus routes.

Service planning doesn’t only pay attention to our most productive routes, we also monitor the least productive routes. We then evaluate ways to improve productivity including rerouting, restructuring with surrounding routes, changing frequency or hours of service. To get a better idea of how we evaluate routes and make changes, check out the recording of our Service Standards & Guidelines and Spring Service Analysis webinars.

See you on the bus.

Revisions to Service Guidelines and Standards

Last week, our board of directors adopted revisions to Capital Metro’s Service Guidelines and Standards. Originally created in 2009, this document is essentially a service planning tool that reflects the mission and goals of Capital Metro.  The guidelines provide a framework for how routes and stops are designed and allocated; and the standards include the process by which services are assessed.

The document was revised to include additional design and evaluation criteria based on best practices and recent service changes. In September, the Customer Satisfaction Advisory Committee reviewed a draft copy and provided valuable feedback that was incorporated into the final document.

Below is a summary of the revisions:


Introduction

All MetroBus and MetroRail services were classified into 3 primary groups (core, UT, special). Core routes are the backbone of our transit system and UT Shuttle routes are unique in terms of function and funding. Special routes serve very specific needs.

Guidelines

Population and employment density are primary influences on transit demand. Service coverage guidelines were updated to focus on areas or corridors with densities that support cost-effective transit. Transit demand also influenced by land use. Transit supportive land use patterns and destinations are discussed in the document. Transit-friendly street and sidewalk characteristics are also noted.

Demographic data such as Census 2010 and Capital Metro’s origin/destination survey help identify neighborhoods with high transit dependency and better understand our community. Household income and auto availability are key indicators. Elderly and youth population are also important factors.

Bus stop spacing guidelines and amenities criteria were simplified. Additional guidelines were added to bus stop placement, which involves a balance of customer safety, accessibility, and operations.

Standards

Service standards focus on schedule reliability, ridership productivity, and cost-effectiveness. Currently, routes are evaluated three times a year. A minimum productivity threshold and criteria for high-performing routes have been established.

The service change process has been added to the document. Service changes allow an opportunity to implement new services and modify route alignments, schedules, bus stops and facilities.


The revised Service Guidelines and Standards provide a more accurate reflection of existing conditions and agency goals. They also assist in identifying needs and evaluating service requests. Guidelines are now more rigorous and less complex. Along with ServicePlan2020, standards provide the basis for cost-effective service planning.