New Buses Rolling Out onto Austin’s Streets This Week

New BusHave you seen them? Maybe you’ve even had the chance to experience that “new car smell” as you step on the bus. If you haven’t, chances are you will very soon.

Starting this week, Capital Metro will be adding three to five NEW buses into service each week until October! That’s right. Each week!

We’re excited to see the fancy, new electric-blue buses driving around Austin and we hope you are too. These buses are more comfortable, sleeker, better for the environment, brand-spankin’ new and are replacing older buses that have reached the end of the road.

In total, 54 New Flyer buses were approved by the Capital Metro board of directors in February.  The new buses are part of a Capital Metro strategy to maintain a state of good repair.

“We’re on the move everyday connecting people, jobs and communities. The new buses entering the fleet will allow Capital Metro to provide better reliability and an improved customer experience,” said Linda S. Watson, Capital Metro president/CEO.

The effort is also one step towards rebranding and differentiating services by color: local service will be the snazzy electric-blue, MetroRapid will be silver and MetroRail will continue red.

To further serve our customer’s needs, and improve service for bicycle transit riders, we will also be installing three position bike racks on ten of the new buses as a pilot project to test usability.

The buses use clean diesel which produces fewer emissions and meets 2010 Environmental Protection Agency Standards. Compared to 2009 buses they are 10 times cleaner and, more impressively, 25 times cleaner than buses from 20 years ago, which is great for the environment.

So, if you come upon one of our new buses, let us know! Tweet us @CapMetroNews or write on our Facebook page. We want to know!

Capital Metro approves a long-range financial plan

Yesterday afternoon, the board of directors approved a long-range financial plan that incorporates the forecasts for revenue and expenditures and financing options for Capital Metro for the next seven years. The plan itself is not posted online yet, but here’s an overview.

This landmark plan outlines a strategy to address several funding challenges over the next few years while increasing our savings to a projected $68 million by 2018.

As outlined in Capital Metro’s new strategic plan, we are taking steps to strengthen the financial health of the agency. The long-range financial plan will help Capital Metro meet its financial goals by:

  • Maintaining current service in the short-term
  • Providing funding for bus fleet replacements
  • Helping meet cash reserve targets of Senate Bill 650
  • Continuing MetroRapid plans as scheduled
  • Planning for federally-required Positive Train Control implementation
  • Supporting the labor structure transition

Of significant concern has been ensuring that Capital Metro’s ageing fleet can be replaced on a regular schedule. The long-range plan includes a seven-year strategy that will replace a total of 292 vehicles.

That strategy includes Capital Metro borrowing $20 million to jumpstart the vehicle replacement program in FY2013-14 and to allow the agency to stay on track to meet the Texas Legislature’s cash savings requirements as specified in SB650. Capital Metro expects to save millions in vehicle maintenance costs over the life of the loan.