Capital Metro Wins National Award

These bus/train ads have been up and down Austin streets for a few months now. They’re all about going downtown and grabbin’ a ride on MetroRail to get you where you need to go. If you’ve noticed them, you’re not alone — they’ve caught the attention of the American Public Transportation Association.

Earlier this month, Capital Metro found out we won the APTA AdWheel Award for this “Go Downtown” campaign we started in March when we began running Friday and Saturday night service! APTA contests are no joke, so this award means a lot to our team and lands us some major props in the industry.

The campaign mission originally was solely intended to encourage and inform riders like you about the new night rail service, but it’s cool too that someone else noticed our efforts because there were a  lot of very creative people who invested many hours into making the “Go Downtown” project shine.

Each year, APTA honors members’ marketing and communications efforts with the AdWheel Awards. Awards are presented in five main media categories: print, electronic, campaigns, social media, and special events. Recipients are honored in a special ceremony at APTA’s Annual Meeting, held each October.

So, thanks APTA for recognizing Capital Metro’s efforts through this award — it means a lot to us, but more importantly, we hope riders like you are continuing to enjoy Friday and Saturday night service and know we appreciate you for riding Capital Metro! Next time you see these cool ads around town, you’ll know they’re actually award-winning.

Austin Poets to be Featured on Entire Capital Metro Bus Fleet next month

On Saturday, Sept. 29, (10 a.m. – 12 noon) the Austin Poetry Society will announce the Poetry with Wheels contest winning poems at Nature’s Treasures, 4103 North IH-35. The winning poems, like this one below will be posted onboard Capital Metro’s entire fleet of buses in October.

– 70 poets entered
– 314 poems submitted
– 20 poems selected (both English and Spanish) for display on buses 

The first five completed poetry signs for installation on Capital Metro buses will be unveiled. The event is hosted in conjunction with the Austin International Poetry Festival, a four-day event taking place Sept. 27-30, at venues throughout Austin that attracts hundreds of poets from all over the world. The event is free and open to the public.

Capital Metro partnered with the Austin Poetry Society (APS) to bring poetry onboard its buses. 

“The partnership with Austin Poetry Society will provide a lasting benefit for our riders, who can be delighted every time they board one of our buses with thoughtful, artistic poetry,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson. “Capital Metro supports the arts and has been exploring avenues of incorporating more art on our fleet and at our facilities.” 

Riders should begin to enjoy the poems onboard buses beginning in October, when the first batch of 420 signs will be installed across the bus fleet. The signs will feature 10 winning poems submitted in the contest and an additional two poems penned by Austin elementary students in a separate APS partnership with Badgerdog Literary Publications. The Austin Poetry Society anticipates producing a second batch of signs featuring another 12 poems next spring.

Facebook Contest: Two Austin Film Fest Badges up for Grabs

You may have heard about our MetroRapid groundbreaking yesterday…maybe you’ve also been one of the early birds to watch our new YouTube video…below:

But, do you know that Capital Metro has two Austin Film Festival badges to give away? It’s true! How can you snag one? Click here Our contest is ongoing until Sept. 30!

We want to see your transit-inspired artwork. It doesn’t have to be fancy or require an extreme amount of work. Think about what transit means to you…Where do you ride to? How many places have you been to on the bus? Where are you looking forward to riding MetroRail? Take a picture, Instagram it, draw something, sketch, doodle, crayon, stamp, collage, etc. Anyway you want.

Once you have your idea and have a creation, take a picture of it and upload to our Facebook contest page. Take this for example:

Here’s an example I of a picture I took on 9/11 of a bus, then added filters. Preface: I have no artistic talent to claim!

It’s that simple. Capture a transit moment and submit it. After we have some entries on our Facebook page, others will be able to vote on each photo. The earlier you submit, the more time you have to wrangle-in those votes!
Start now!

We’ll award the top two entries. Each of our winners gets one Austin Film Fest badge! Each badge is worth over $100 bucks.

Now, go onto our Facebook page and look for the green tab at the top and enter your art baby.

Feds say we’re “doing it right”

Capital Metro recently received a positive review from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) triennial review. Since we are a federal funding recipient, we have to go through a review every three years with the FTA. In FY 2012, we conservatively estimate to receive around $36.1 million in federal funds.

So what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, a positive review is a reflection of the good work we’re doing here at Capital Metro. We have a responsibility to provide a vital community service and staff works hard to deliver quality transportation choices. Capital Metro President/CEO, Linda Watson believes this is further confirmation that “Capital Metro is on the right track” and that we are conducting business with integrity, transparency and fiscal accountability.

The review is one of the FTA’s management tools for the responsible administration of federal transportation grants. It scrutinizes the agency in 24 different areas including procurement, finance, maintenance, safety, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In its cover letter to Capital Metro, FTA Regional Administrator Robert Patrick congratulated the transit authority for its diligence in providing quality transportation in the Austin area.

The review was conducted by a third party contractor of the FTA, Advanced Systems Technology and Management, Inc. The review team congratulated President Watson on having a good team and “doing it right.”

From the beginning, Watson has made it my goal to create a high-performing organization and position the agency so that it is a significant and valued contributor to the growth and development of the region. We’re making strides to meet the needs of central Texas. Feel free to browse through the review, which is posted online along with a lot of other financial and audit information.

Downtown Austin Alliance: PlazaLife event April 27-28

The Downtown Austin Alliance and Thomas Properties Group are hosting a family-friendly, two-day event in the heart of downtown April 27-28.

PlazaLife is meant to inspire the community about what a downtown plaza can be. It’s about nurturing a pedestrian-focused, livable, vibrant downtown.  

Take a mosey over to the Frost Bank Tower Plaza at 4th and Congress on April 27-28 for a two-day celebration of music, games, and tons of events.

The announcement from DAA said it best, “Come and enjoy one of the free scheduled events or stop by the plaza any time to meet up with a friend, eat lunch, view the art and landscape installations, or just relax and watch the world go by on the Main Street of Texas.” 

When/Where is it?

April 27-28, Frost Bank Tower Plaza

401 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

How do I get there?

– Bus routes: all downtown routes will get you close!

– MetroRail: 3 blocks west of MetroRail Downtown station

– Unsure? Check out the Capital Metro Trip Planner where you can plug-in your exact starting and ending (401 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701) location to find the best route for you.

Day 1: Friday, April 27

8:00 AM: Catch DAA educational event about the growing movement towards re-thinking public spaces.

9:30-11:00 AM: Enjoy the plaza on your own with Rebar Bubbleware furniture public event, free WIFI

Rebar Bubbleware Furniture
Rebar Bubbleware Furniture
(Photo Courtesy Austin Art Alliance website)
11:00-2:00 PM: Live music, Downtown retail showcase, O. Henry story reading

2:00-5:00 PM: Rebar furniture, Free WIFI

5:00-6:30 PM: Music by the White Ghost Shivers

6:30-7:30 PM: Free sneak preview of Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival

 Day 2: Saturday, April 28

9:00 AM: Free yoga classes on the plaza with Wanderlust LIVE

10:00 AM-2:00 PM: Giant chess with the kids, Playground in a Box
11:00 AM: Yoga on the Plaza, Chess Meet-up
Noon-2:00 PM: Music by The Invincible Czars

Weekend Rail Service, *every* weekend, beginning March 23

Good news! This evening, the Austin City Council approved an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) with us to fund additional MetroRail service on Fridays and Saturdays, not just for special events like Pecan Street Festival, but *every* Friday and Saturday, beginning March 23. Trains will run hourly on Friday evenings from 7 p.m. until midnight, and on Saturdays, every 35 minutes from 4 p.m. until midnight.

“One of the most common requests we hear from the community at Capital Metro is to run MetroRail on evenings and weekends,” said Capital Metro President and CEO Linda S. Watson. “This agreement with the city allows us to deliver what the community has asked. MetroRail is a tremendous community asset, and by providing evening weekend service, a greater number of people will be able to use the system.”

Capital Metro had already budgeted to provide special event rail service during SXSW. You can ride MetroRail late on Friday, March 9 and 16, until midnight, and on Saturday, March 10 and 17, from 10:30 a.m. until midnight. Then the following weekend, Friday, March 23, *regular* weekend service supported by the city of Austin through the ILA will begin. Exciting!

Austin City Councilmember and Capital Metro Board Chair Mike Martinez said, “This ILA is a great win for the city and Capital Metro, but more importantly, Austin, Texas. As Capital Metro has added service we’ve seen increased ridership due to more transit options, and this agreement continues that momentum. People who work and visit downtown and along the Red Line route will be able to take commuter rail and enjoy even more of what Austin has to offer during the weekends.”

Under the multi-year agreement, the city of Austin will contribute a not to exceed amount of approximately $5.7 million over 34 months to assist with service within the city of Austin. Capital Metro will be responsible for costs associated with rail service outside the city limits. The city’s financial commitment to weekend rail service comes as a result of an existing ILA with Capital Metro in which the transit agency directs a quarter cent of its one-cent sales tax collection to the city for transportation projects in our community. The city has determined that funding a portion of this new rail service meets the criteria.

MetroRail ridership has nearly tripled since service began and is currently averaging 35,000 trips per month with standing-room only during morning and afternoon rush hours. The service also boasts a 99 percent on-time performance record. 

I am imagining all sorts of fun excursions I might like to do once the extended hours begin. What are your plans?


Plan your trip to ACL

People queued up for the short shuttle ride to ACL, in 2010.

Each day this week, we’ve been entertained by Marketing Manager Cynthia Lucas’ 2011 ACL playlist, which has added some audio flair to the Marketing/PR office over here at Capital Metro headquarters. If you’ve ridden with us on the Austin City Limits Music Festival shuttle before, you know about Cynthia’s playlist that she creates each year to entertain you during your short wait for a shuttle at Republic Square.

Beginning tomorrow through Sunday, you’ll be able to hear the 2011 iteration, when the shuttle buses start rolling at 10 a.m. from Republic Square Park at 5th and Guadalupe to Zilker Park.

The last bus leaves Republic Square Park for ACL at 8 p.m. The last returning bus back to Republic Square heads out about 30 minutes after the final band leaves the stage each night.

The shuttle is free, and it’s the best way to get to Zilker Park (aside from biking!), as there is no parking at the festival.

With just a tiny bit of planning, you can skip parking altogether and ride one of Capital Metro’s regular bus routes to Republic Square.  (Remember the new parking meter hours have gone into effect downtown!) Many of Capital Metro’s regular routes will get you within a block or two of the shuttle bus loading zone, and it only costs a dollar.  Check out the map here.

If your good times continue well past the last band leaves the stage, no worries. On Friday and Saturday nights, Capital Metro’s Night Owl and E-Bus routes run until about 3 a.m. between downtown and neighborhoods throughout the city. (Plan ahead on Sunday night as there is no late night service—Capital Metro buses run until about 10-11 p.m. on Sunday.)

We hope to see you on the bus, whether it’s a regular route or the free ACL shuttle. Let us know how you like the tunes!