Project Connect: Virtual Meetings

Project Connect_Lines

Project Connect, Capital Metro’s long-term transit plan, remains essential to our ability to serve our community and support the region’s growth in as sustainable a way as possible.

Austin is creative and resilient and will still be among the best places to live, even after we’re able to move through the current public health crisis. In fact, Austin is expected to be one of the few cities nationwide able to withstand the impact and bounce back strong.

Long story short, we’ll still have the same issues and opportunities presented by our growth, and Austin will still be a magnet for newcomers. We need to be ready not just for after the pandemic recedes, but for what Austin will look like in 2040.

Throughout this month, we’re offering several chances for you to learn about Project Connect and to ask questions of CapMetro staff and Austin City Council members.

Virtual Open House

A self-guided online experience that walks visitors through Project Connect’s details and provides an opportunity to give feedback, this virtual open house will be open to the public through May 31. Take a look at the full plan, including updates that have been made since we last presented to our board and city council.

Virtual Community Meetings

Also through May 31, Capital Metro will host a series of one-hour virtual community meetings. These will include an update on our COVID-19 response, followed by a presentation on Project Connect, then a moderated roundtable and public discussions with Austin City Council members and Capital Metro’s board and staff.

Check out our Get Involved calendar to find out how to sit in on the meetings with Zoom or Facebook.

Stay Well & Ride Safe

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CapMetro responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic and has implemented several measures to protect our staff and support the goal of maintaining public health. As the state begins to relax our stay-at-home restrictions, your actions are vital to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and maintain public safety on CapMetro vehicles. We’re asking customers to continue to act responsibly to protect themselves, their families and the community at large.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we need your help:

  • Wear a face covering: This is required for all customers riding CapMetro vehicles.
  • Maintain safe social distancing when waiting at a transit facility and boarding a vehicle.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
  • Continue rear-door boarding.
  • Maintain safe social distancing when possible while riding CapMetro.
  • Stay home if you can.
  • If you feel sick, please stay home and do not use CapMetro services.

CapMetro strongly recommends you take these extra safety precautions to protect your health and the wellbeing of others. We’ll get through this, but we have to work together and do what we can to help others.

If you choose to ride CapMetro vehicles, please make sure you are considering what is best for the safety of you, your family and your community. Let’s practice these safety measures so we can all return to a more normal life soon.

 

CapMetro & the Shelter-in-Place Order

Shelter-in-Place

Even with today’s shelter in place emergency order from local authorities, CapMetro’s service remains an essential business and will continue to provide critical service for essential needs.

Adjusted Service Schedule

Designed to serve our community’s larger needs. We served 40%-60% fewer riders, which means people are doing what they need to: staying home.

“Skip a Seat” Signs

  • Give other customers some space while on the bus or train.
  • Board through the rear door to protect operators and other riders.
  • Those using wheelchairs and other mobility devices are allowed to still use the front door.
  • Please respect the fare system.

Enhanced Cleaning Procedures

Hired 50 part-time cleaners to help clean and sanitize the buses throughout the day. Some admin sta­ff will assist.

Safely Equipped Operators

CapMetro operators have hand sanitizer and gloves. We’re following Austin Public Health and the CDC on masks, but operators may wear them if they choose.

Supplemental Leave Policy

Ensures sta­ff members can take care of themselves and their loved ones and not worry about their employment status.

If you are sick, we ask you not to travel. If your travel isn’t essential, we ask that you follow the order and not ride Capital Metro.

CapMetro & COVID-19

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In response to the rapidly evolving situation involving COVID19, Capital Metro continues to implement measures designed to protect our staff, promote public health and ensure that we continue to provide service to all parts of our community.

These measures have included:

  • All bus operators are provided with a bottle of hand sanitizer and latex gloves. The agency is following guidance from Austin Public Health and the CDC with respect to masks. While operators are not being issued masks to wear while driving, they may do so if they choose.
  • We enhanced our cleaning operations more than two weeks ago, which included the daily sanitizing of all hand touch surfaces. We will soon increase those cleaning procedures even further, with disinfecting of vehicles taking place throughout the day. To help us achieve this, we’ve hired 50 part-time cleaners. No experience is needed, and training will be provided. Work will start as early as tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24.
  • Customers must board their bus through the rear door to protect the health and safety of our bus operators and customers. During this emergency situation, we trust that our customers will continue to respect the agency’s fare system.
  • We have placed “skip a seat” signs on all CapMetro vehicles to encourage customers to leave some space between each other and practice social distancing.
  • We have developed a new policy that would provide up to three weeks of supplemental sick leave for employees of CapMetro and our contractors. This would apply if the employee or a member of their household is affected by COVID-19.
  • We’re also starting a new CapMetro Family Care team, whose sole purpose is to be an additional resource to answer questions, provide comfort and find solutions for those who are impacted by this crisis.

CapMetro Implements Temporary Service Changes

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In response to the COVID-19 emergency, CapMetro services will operate a modified schedule, seven days a week beginning Wednesday, March 18.

Service Impacts

Capital Metro will implement changes to its service designed to protect employees, promote public health and ensure that we continue to provide service to all parts of our community.

Capital Metro services, including MetroBus, MetroRapid, MetroExpress and MetroRail will operate on a modified schedule.

You can read about those service changes at CapMetro.org/COVID19.

Customer/Employee Care & Safety

To further ensure customer and bus operator health and safety, we ask that customers board their bus through the rear door. We also ask that they respect the agency’s fare system during this emergency situation.

Capital Metro designed these new measures to improve social distancing for our employees and customers, while still providing necessary transit to critical services.

Prevention and Awareness

We are following guidance from Austin Public Health and continue to monitor the situation.

In addition to our daily cleaning procedures for all CapMetro vehicles and transit facilities, we are applying a disinfectant to common hand contact areas, such as poles and handrails, armrests, door handles and stop request buttons.

Later this week, we will install special signs encouraging social distancing on our vehicles.

Along with these efforts, we need your help:

  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Maintain good hygiene.
  • Limit your non-essential travel as much as possible, especially to locations with many people.
  • Limiting your contact with others is the best way to stay healthy.

If you think you might be getting sick, please stay home and contact your healthcare provider.

Visit Austin Public Health’s information page for up-to-date, detailed information: austintexas.gov/COVID19.

Reaching Higher

Reaching Higher_Feb 2020

Thanks a Billion!

CapMetro reached a huge milestone in January: 1 billion rides!

Our mission is to connect people and communities to jobs and opportunities, and CapMetro has been transforming Central Texas lives for the past 35 years. We look forward to the next billion!

Clean Air

Cleaner Air for Our Tomorrow

Our first electric buses rolled out in January with artwork created by kids from Campbell Elementary.

Our 1 billion customers have saved more than 445,000 tons of greenhouse gases that would’ve been in the air if they’d driven alone. As more people choose CapMetro, cleaner air will be the result!

Thanks a Billion!

Ridership Keeps Climbing!

As of February, ridership has increased for 16 straight months. In addition to our new bus network, customers are also responding positively to:

  • 125 additional bus shelters
  • Improved Next Departure estimates
  • 110 new digital information signs at MetroRapid stations & transit centers
  • 3,000 feet of sidewalk improvements
  • New solar-powered lighting at stop & stations

More Riders

Add It Up

There’s so much happening with transportation in Central Texas! Get a load of this:

  • Launched Pickup in Leander & kept adding ridership to other Pickup zones
  • Recognized with Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for our 2019 annual financial report
  • Lauded by World Safety Organization with the 2019 Concerned Corporation Award
  • Earned two awards for improvements to real-time data
  • Named a Gold Level Partner and received the Mayor’s Healthiest Workplace Award
  • Received national safety award from American Public Transportation Association

The Community’s Plan

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Project Connect will transform the region’s transportation system. But for it to work, we need your help. That’s why we’ve gone out to talk to the community to see what you want from Project Connect. So far:

  • 34,838 people participated!
  • 543 meetings hosted and/or attended
  • Received 5,154 visits to our virtual open houses
  • Collected 2,489 comments from those visits

You can follow along with Project Connect’s outreach through our Engagement Dashboards online.

Thanks a Billion!

MetroRailReturns_11x17It turns out you can get a lot accomplished in 35 years! Capital Metro celebrates our 35th anniversary this year, but even before we hit that mark, we’ve reached another milestone: 1 billion rides! 

This month, one of our customers got on board the bus and took what was CapMetro’s 1 billionth trip since our formation in 1985. A lot has changed since then. To begin with, when CapMetro launched, we received about 225 buses from from the city of Austin. Today, there are more than 540 of our vehicles out on the streets and rails. And CapMetro provided about 7.75 million rides in our first full year and more than 31 million in 2019. 

Ridership has been on the rise for the past year and a half, which is important for a lot of reasons, but its relationship to transit’s climate benefits will only increase in relevance as we move forward. By taking transit, our 1 billion customers have avoided adding the more than 445,000 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that otherwise would’ve resulted if they’d driven alone in their cars. That’s important, but our buses are going to be on the roads no matter what. So, each additional rider who gets on a bus or train adds to CapMetro’s contribution to the battle against climate change. And, when Project Connect’s vision of an entire fleet of zero-emissions vehicles becomes a reality, that will increase exponentially. 

So, Central Texas … thanks a billion!

Leave Your Car at Home and Become a Two-Timer

Two Timer LogoTraffic congestion in Central Texas is bad and getting worse. Drivers stuck in traffic on I-35 or MoPac know this only too well. In fact, Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s recently released Urban Mobility Scorecard shows that in 2014 a peak-hour trip in the Austin area took 33 percent longer than that same trip would take in less congested traffic.

Furthermore, the Austin Mobility Report, published by the Austin Chamber of Commerce in 2013, shows that traffic will worsen significantly in the coming years if people don’t shift from riding in single occupancy vehicles. The study noted that 74,000 people driving alone each day during rush hour would need to move into alternate modes of transportation in the coming years just to keep traffic flowing as it is today!

HectorThat’s why Capital Metro has launched a new initiative we hope you’ll try: leave your car at home and take transit twice a week, or in other words, become a regular “Two-Timer.” If you’re not sure how to take public transportation in Austin, no worries. We’re happy to show you just how fun and easy it can be. Three videos show how easy it is to use the CapMetro App to plan and pay for your trip, and monitor in real-time when the next bus will depart—all designed to provide new levels of flexibility and convenience. Continue reading “Leave Your Car at Home and Become a Two-Timer”

New MetroRapid Service Kicks-Off Today

Today marked the first day of the new MetroRapid service!

Vehicles started rolling out into service early this morning and we have over 200 employee volunteers at stations and onboard this week helping you navigate the new service.

MetroRapid’s new amenities:

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  • Frequent service
  • Fewer stops
  • New vehicles
  • Wi-Fi
  • Mobile app
  • Traffic priority lanes
  • Unique stations
  • 3-position bike rack
  • Traffic signal priority technology

As you prepare for tomorrow’s workday/school day commute, make sure you’re up-to-date on all the recent changes, effective today at Capital Metro:

New MetroRapid service, Route 801

New fare system

Changes to some bus routes

New mobile app

Check out some of today’s MetroRapid Day #1 action!

1st
1st MetroRapid vehicle rolls out into town
Cyclist tries out the new 3-bike rack
Cyclist tries out the new 3-bike rack

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One of the 200 volunteers out at MetroRapid stations this week
One of the 200 volunteers out at MetroRapid stations this week

Thank you for riding Capital Metro!

Dump the Pump Day – June 21

This Thursday, we’re asking you to dump the pump and ride Capital Metro. June 21 is National Dump the Pump Day and there has never been a better time to make the switch to public transit. There are a multitude of benefits to riding transit.

Saves money

Riding transit is an affordable option. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s June Transit Saving Report, a two-person household can save, on the average, almost $10,000 a year by downsizing to one car.

Capital Metro has some of the lowest fares in the nation. A 31-day local pass costs just $30. Use this fuel savings calculator to find out how much money you could be saving by riding public transit.

Saves the environment

Taking public transit is the most effective action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Riding Capital Metro saves 4,800 pounds of carbon per year and far exceeds the combined benefits of using energy-efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, weatherizing one’s home, and replacing a refrigerator.

Calculate your carbon savings riding public transportation.

Saves your health

Riding Capital Metro is also a healthy choice. Studies have shown that regular transit riders tend to be healthier because of the exercise they get walking to and from bus stops, train stations and their homes or offices.

It might be hot in June, but a short walk will do you good. Cool off in our well air-conditioned vehicles and enjoy a relaxing ride home, rather than a stressful drive in rush hour traffic.

The concept behind Dump the Pump started right here at Capital Metro, and now it is a national event to raise awareness of all the benefits of public transportation. So what are you waiting for? Ditch the car and get on the bus, train or carpool this Thursday.Try it and you might like it.