Transit & Health in Black Communities

Throughout our time talking about Project Connect, we’ve been clear that an investment in transit is an investment in equity.

What we mean by that is that public transportation ridership is heavily weighted toward low-income communities and people of color. And so when we improve our services, those benefits go toward the people who need them the most.

In addition, our country’s history has resulted in a landscape tilted against Black communities, who experience worse health outcomes, higher levels of air pollution and lower levels of public services overall. Good access to strong transit can help combat those issues and more.

Some of the most obvious benefits of transit are financial. It’s expensive to own, operate and maintain a car after all, and a monthly bus pass costs just $41.25.

Some of those are safety-related. Traveling by public transit is 10 times safer than by car.

Traffic safety also affects health outcomes because people riding transit are in fewer collisions and therefore suffer fewer traffic-related injuries. Transit also brings improvements to the overall health of Black people and other communities of color in a variety of ways:

  • Transit takes cars off the roads, reducing air pollution from vehicles.
  • Transit combines with other active forms of transportation like walking and biking to and from stops or stations, enabling riders to get more exercise.
  • Transit connects people to medical centers, hospitals and doctors’ offices, giving more people access to regular healthcare appointments.
  • Transit increases access to healthier food options as well.

Public transportation can be a great equalizer for all communities and historically has been essential for Black Americans.

CapMetro Celebrates Black History Month

CapMetro honors Black History Month each February and this year’s national theme of Black Health and Wellness hits home particularly as we approach two years of living in a pandemic. 

Artist Dawn Okoro

The national theme lets us focus our thoughts on an issue that’s important for the entire community. It also ensures the entire range of the Black experience is recognized and celebrated as the years go by. 

This year, CapMetro is bringing our focus to Black History Month through a bus wrap featuring the work of local artist Dawn Okoro, whose paintings examine standards of beauty and the use of commercial imagery to influence what we desire. Okoro says that her work embodies space, movement, pattern, design, texture and color; and she’s also talked about how creating – doing the work of an artist – is an important part of her wellness journey. 

The bus featuring her work will be on the streets throughout February. Check it out! 

Our collaboration with Okoro was facilitated by our partnership with the George Washington Carver Museum, an Austin institution that has celebrated African American life in Austin for more than 40 years. The Carver Museum has art galleries, classrooms, a dance studio and theater. Its network of artists, creators of all types and community leaders makes it an indispensable force for good. Follow the Carver Museum on Instagram to view their programming throughout February to celebrate Black History Month.  

Throughout the month we’ll highlight different aspects of Black life, Black history and Black health and wellness. We’ll point to those in our community doing good, like Okoro and the folks at the African American Youth Harvest Foundation, which provides community services for underserved kids and their families. The foundation focuses on mentoring programs and the effects of behavioral health issues on its community. 

We also want to take the opportunity to share a new resource for Black Austin culture and news: the podcast Black Austin Matters from KUT. The first couple of episodes feature interviews with community leaders Chas Moore of the Austin Justice Coalition and Wilhelmina and Exalton Delco. 

CapMetro is excited for you to see the bus featuring Okoro’s artwork in the community and what else we have in store for Black History Month 2022. Watch this space.

CapMetro’s 2021 Year in Review

The 2021 fiscal year was one of the busiest, most challenging and exciting years for CapMetro.

Voters approved Project Connect, a transformational system expansion that will improve mobility throughout the region and make Austin a more equitable and livable city.

We continued to improve safety measures at our facilities and aboard our vehicles, and provided emergency assistance to our community during an unprecedented winter storm.

Our commitment to our customers and staff allowed us to improve our services and plan for the bright future ahead.

In this video we’ll highlight how CapMetro is serving the Central Texas region, including a look at how we continue to implement new technology to ensure the safety and reliability of our services:

Winter Storm 2021 After-Action Report

CapMetro played a critical role in supporting our community during the unprecedented winter storm last February. Our team, in particular our frontline team members, ensured that our neighbors had access to warmth, water, food and critical transportation. In addition to taking care of our neighbors during this emergency, we took care of each other, feeding, warming and providing water to members of the CapMetro family who needed them.

It is our honor and responsibility to serve in such a critical role when our community needs us the most.

We always seek opportunities to review our processes, identify lessons to be learned and continually improve the way we operate in the future. As part of this commitment, CapMetro undertook a review of where we excelled and where we could have done better in our response to the storm. The after-action review includes more than 80 recommendations that will increase our ability to support our community and each other during times of emergency and disaster.