Capital Metro Wins Rail Safety Grant

transit-trainCapital Metro is among eight transit agencies that were awarded Operation Lifesaver (OLI) rail safety project grants. This grant is part of Capital Metro’s ongoing commitment to safety and will enable our agency to further our efforts in keeping safety our top priority.

 

What are our plans for the grant?

We’ll target middle school students, by blitzing them with educational materials, a youth-produced video and a 15-month outreach campaign involving peer mentors and lesson plans for educators, a new website and school outreach events.

“Capital Metro has the highest commitment to safety and is very pleased to receive an Operation Lifesaver Rail Transit Safety Education Grant, which will be used for an innovative, yearlong rail safety education program for middle school students,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson. “This grant affirms our continuing relationship with Operation Lifesaver, and will allow us to partner with Creative Action, the largest provider of after school arts programming in Central Texas, on a totally unique rail safety video that the students themselves will create. Studies show that young people are leaders in public transit usage, and this project will encourage our local students to lead the way in transit safety, as well.”

Read all about Operation Lifesaver and what the other seven agencies will do with their grants at: http://oli.org/news/view/operation-lifesaver-announces-grants-to-eight-transit-agencies

Introducing the Haul Pass: New Fare Card for Students

Haul Pass logo

The countdown has begun. School’s almost out. Parent and teens, it’s time to get ready for summer.

Whether it’s time for volunteering, working summer jobs,  internships, taking summer courses; or it’s time for play–attending summer camp, participating in recreational sports or arts activities; or it’s time to chill–with a dip in the pool, relaxing with a good book, grabbing a bite to eat and hanging out with friends and family–Capital Metro can help get you to the places you want and need to go.

Let us introduce you to the Haul Pass, our new summer fare card for students 18 and under.

Front of Hall Pass fare card

Haul Pass Features:

  • UNLIMITED Bus & Rail rides
  • 1 pass lasts three summer months
  • Go Local discounts
  • Valid June 1 – August 31
  • A great value at $45 (for a $96 fare card)
Limited quantity sold for a limited time only, so get them while they last!
The Haul Pass is available online at www.capmetro.org/haulpass or at the Transit Store, 323 Congress Avenue.

Happy Girl Scout Day – March 12

Girl Scout Day celebrates the day the first Girl Scout group was created on March 12, 1912, when Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia for a local meeting. Today, Girl Scouts of the USA has a membership of over 3.2 million girls and adults.

We are especially proud of our local scouts’ role in history. Did you know the Girl Scouts of Central Texas and Capital Metro created the Girl Scouts first-ever Rail Safety Patch Program?

ImageTake a lead from the Girl Scouts and educate yourself about how to be safe around railroad tracks. Check out:

Capital Metro conducts Operation Lifesaver (OL) presentations FREE OF CHARGE to schools, community and educational organizations in the Central Texas region. To schedule a presentation, please contact Mr Celso Baez at 512-389-7559.

Have a safe and happy Girl Scout Day and Women’s History Month.

Capital Metro to upgrade rail warning system at six crossings

Capital Metro Rail Operations staff recently completed an assessment of the handful of private crossings along the 32-mile MetroRail Red Line.

Today at the Capital Metro Operations & Planning Committee meeting, VP of Rail Operations Melvin Clark outlined the assessment and our recommendations. The good news is that all of the private crossings meet Capital Metro’s standards.

The better news is that the assessment gives us an opportunity to review and update our standards for private crossings. Melvin reported to the board committee our plans to standardize the private crossings and install flashing light warning signals, as well as pursue closure of several private crossings as part of its ongoing commitment to safety.

We will install flashing warning lights at six private crossings—one per year over the next six years. It costs an estimated $200,000 per crossing to install the lights. Although the Federal Railroad Administration does not require warning lights as private crossings, we’ve programmed these upgrades to enhance safety along the commuter line.

We are also standardizing the crossing surface of each private crossing along the Red Line to asphalt or concrete panels. Three private crossings in the assessment had a gravel (they call it ballast in the railroad industry) crossing surface, which requires more ongoing maintenance depending on the volume of motor vehicle traffic. One of the three private crossings has already been resurfaced with concrete panels, and the remaining two crossings will be resurfaced over the next two months.

Ultimately, it is still up to the driving public to obey public safety and traffic laws. Capital Metro has an ongoing rail safety education program to raise awareness of rail safety issues. This fall, Capital Metro will launch a rail safety campaign to reach rural communities along Capital Metro’s freight railroad. Learn more about rail safety.

Portraits of Freedom: Juneteenth MetroArt

The city is buzzing with excitement as Austin readies itself for the annual Juneteenth celebration.

We are equally excited about the upcoming festivities. Walking and riding in the annual Juneteenth parade has been a tradition of Capital Metro.

To get the bus ready for the parade, we’re inviting Austinites to help us create Portraits of Freedom, a community MetroArt project consisting of hundreds of self-portraits made out of vinyl and installed on a 35-foot bus. Portraits will be created by the general public, 100 students at AISD schools, and Capital Metro operators and staff, in collaboration with the Carver Museum and Cultural Center and Theatre Action Project (TAP).


Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day,” is the oldest known African American celebration commemorating the end of slavery. Slaves were declared free on January 1, 1863, under the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, which declared that all slaves living in states still in rebellion were “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” However, African Americans in Texas were not aware of the proclamation, until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger, the commander of U.S. Troops in Texas, arrived in Galveston and read General Order 3:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

On January 1, 1980, a bill was passed making Juneteenth an official Texas state holiday.

Portraits of Freedom honors both the spirit of Juneteenth and the eastside community today. 1865 was a time when one’s identity was oft attempted to be defined by others. Portraiture, by definition, is an artistic representation of a person in a particular moment in time. By creating a portrait in your own image and by your own hand, it is a declaration of having the freedom to define who you are, as you see yourself in that moment in time. Collectively, our portraits define the multifaceted face of our community and city.

The community is invited to join in the MetroArt-making fun this Saturday, June 16, 2012, 12pm to 4pm, as a part of the Carver Museum’s Juneteenth Family Fun Day. Activities, including music, food, games and fun, are FREE and open to the public. For more information on the Family Fun Day, please visit http://www.austintexas.gov/event/juneteenth-carver or call the Carver at 512-974-4926. Look for the Capital Metro bus in the north parking lot, near Kealing Middle School.

Be sure to come see the Portraits of Freedom bus riding in the annual Greater East Austin Youth Association’s Juneteenth parade and celebration on Tuesday, June 19th, 10am to 12pm, For more information on the parade, including the parade route, please visit http://www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com/

We are looking forward to celebrating a happy and safe Juneteenth. With active MetroRail service running throughout the week, please visit www.stayoffthetracks.com to view rail safety reminders for you and your family.

Expanded MetroRail service prompts new look at parades and rail safety

The annual Austin Juneteenth parade, sponsored by the Greater East Austin Youth Association, is right around the corner, Tuesday, June 19. Capital Metro is proud to continue its long-standing participation with the Juneteenth celebration.


This year, for the first time, MetroRail trains will be in full operation during the time of the parade. The parade route has traditionally ended at the Rosewood Park rail crossing, which will see MetroRail trains passing by an average of every 18 minutes on the morning of the parade.  Because the safety of the community is the number one priority for the event organizers and Capital Metro, the parade route will be slightly detoured away from the Rosewood rail crossing.

 Beginning this week, Capital MetroRail trains are traveling just a wee bit faster along the line (15% reduction in travel time from end to end), allowing us to add another morning and evening round trip. With the recent addition of Friday night and Saturday MetroRail service, too, it becomes clear that the community should “always expect a train.”

The Juneteenth parade procession will travel its traditional route heading east on MLK, south on Chicon, and east on Rosewood, and now turn north onto Chestnut, east onto Pleasant Valley and end at New York Drive.

Likewise, the annual Republic of Texas Bike Rally begins this Friday, and up to 20K motorcycles will make their way from the Travis County Expo Center to downtown on Friday evening. The procession route included crossing the Rosewood rail crossing, and we advocated to modify that route as well.

Our city is growing and changing fairly rapidly, and although the decision to modify these long-standing traditional parade routes was not made lightly, it was a necessary decision.

Capital Metro is helping to get the word out about the Juneteenth parade route change. Check out the new route map.

Now would be a great time to review some basic rail safety tips with your family. Here are a few good ones:

  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings
  • Always stop, look both ways and listen for trains before crossing the tracks.
  • Flashing red lights signal that a train is approaching from either direction.
  • Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing.
  • Do not cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing
  • Teach your children the importance of crossing the tracks safely – “Stop, look and listen”.
  • Hold on to your child when a train approaches and when walking across railroad tracks.
  • Walking or biking along railroad tracks is very dangerous and considered trespassing.

We hope to see you at the Juneteenth celebration. Look for the “Portraits of Freedom” bus decorated by neighborhood youth in the parade. Have a safe and happy Juneteenth!