New Performance Dashboards Offer Peak Behind the Scenes

By Reinet Marneweck, Capital Metro CFO

Today, Capital Metro officially launched our online Performance Dashboards on CapMetro.org after presenting them to our board of directors. The initiative is another step in Capital Metro’s effort to be transparent and provide data in a clear and efficient manner, both for our board and the public.

The new Performance Dashboards will track metrics in four important categories:

  • Ridership
  • Safety
  • Service Reliability
  • Financial Transparency

These dashboards will collect data from our various internal systems across multiple applications. They’ll replace quarterly reports agency staff has been providing to board members, as well as the monthly ridership stats posted online. We think the dashboards will result in better data-driven decision-making, improved data consistency and increased transparency.

The quality of the information provided will increase greatly with the Performance Dashboards. As an example, we formerly had provided a spreadsheet with raw ridership data divided among services and service providers. The Ridership Dashboard, on the other hand, will provide context for that data. It will show systemwide year-over-year trends (for the entire system or for an individual route) and display the top five routes over the past two years. It will also offer views on ridership by route for different parts of the week, be it weekdays, Saturdays or Sundays.

Ridership-Dashboard
Sample Ridership Dashboard for Route 4 – 7th Street

This is also an ongoing project that will grow and change. We’ll soon augment the Ridership Dashboard with in-depth route-by-route information and add a scorecard measuring our performance against the Capital Metro Strategic Plan.

To view the Performance Dashboards, scroll to the bottom of any page on our website and click the button labeled “Performance.”

We also want to hear from you and to discover what you are interested in learning about. If there’s data that you don’t see but wish you had access to, please let us know by emailing Feedback@CapMetro.org. (Be sure to put Performance Dashboards in the subject line, so we can keep track and forward it to the appropriate team.)

Cap Metro to Take Comment on Budget

Spending

We at Capital Metro take seriously our mission to be open, honest and trustworthy stewards of the public’s money. 54.1 percent of our annual budget comes from our cut of the sales tax, and we’re aware that the public has the right to know what we plan to do.

Part of that effort to be transparent in every way we can is to post online our budgets for each of the past 10 years and next year’s proposed budget, too. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget will go before our board of directors on September 29, and we’re offering the public a number of chances to learn about it and offer comment. In addition to four public meetings (two in person and two online), there will be a public hearing before the board on Thursday at lunchtime. (We’ll also present about the minor changes that would go into effect in January 2018 should the board approve them.)

See below for the dates and locations of the all the meetings:

Monday, September 11

5-6 p.m.

Old Quarry Branch Library

7051 Village Center Drive

Served by Routes 19, 320, 661, 681

Tuesday, September 12

Noon-12:30 p.m.

Webinar

5-6 p.m.

Pleasant Hill Branch Library

211 E. William Cannon

Served by Routes 1, 201, 333, 801

Wednesday, September 13

5:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Webinar

Thursday, September 14

Noon-12:30 p.m.

Public Hearing

2910 E. 5th Street

Served by Routes 17, 300

Friday, September 29

Noon

Board vote

2910 E. 5th Street

Served by Routes 17, 300

Capital Metro’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2013 Budget

Bus

Our fiscal year budget planning process is underway (our fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30). Our financial team and board members continue to be busy fine tuning our financial plans based on community feedback.

We’re holding steady in a tough economy

The total proposed FY2013 budget is $274.4 million, which includes both capital and operating budgets.

We have made great progress the past few years in strengthening our financial position and improving our business practices. We have changed our labor structure, discontinued free fares, made bus service more efficient, and adopted rigorous financial policies, all in an effort to improve the way we are doing business. And we’re transparent about how we do business—our financials are posted online, and updated regularly.

Now, with a tough economy that is slowly rebounding (more than 60% of our budget comes from sales tax), coupled with some major investments we’re making in our system, we’ve known for a while that FY2013 will be the toughest fiscal year in Capital Metro’s recent history. But the good news is that through sound management and board policy direction, the proposed FY2013 operating and capital budget was balanced without reducing service levels or increasing fares, and without reducing the fund balance as much as previously anticipated.

We want you know that Capital Metro is successfully responding to the challenges it has faced in recent years and is proactively helping Central Texas solve its transportation problems.

What we’re investing in progress

Our proposed FY2013 budget funds key strategic priorities, including labor structure, building our reserves, repair needs, safety initiatives to meet Federal mandates and Sunset Commission recommendations, and upgrades to our line that can no longer be deferred. For example,

  • We’re buying more than 50 new buses to replace our aging fleet–this means more new buses along our neighborhood routes
  • We’re investing in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), radio replacement, and Positive Train Control. (PTS, a federal unfunded mandate, is a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements to provide increased safety.)

We’re investing in transportation solutions for all

During the budget development planning process, we’ve sought input from the community to ensure that our priorities are in line with the community’s transportation related concerns. Some of the most pressing ones we heard from social service agencies, our Access Advisory Committee, ADAPT, other members of Austin’s disabled community, and the general public at-large are related to fares, service, and accessibility. We want you to know that in FY2013, our budget includes:

  • No fare increase
  • No reductions in our overall service
  • Breaking ground on MetroRapid, a fast, new, high capacity service which will serve our busiest corridors (starting in 2014)
  • $2.4 million bus stop accessibility improvements
  • $250K contributed to the Basic Transportation Needs Fund, which supports non-profit organizations in assisting low-income transit dependent individuals’ access to transportation

Your Feedback Matters

Adopting a sustainable budget while investing in quality and innovation will help Capital Metro deliver on its promise to its customers and taxpayers to provide effective services that meet the Austin area’s transportation needs.

We encourage you to keep talking to us. We’re listening. Join us on

More information, including a copy of the proposed budget book and a webinar presentation with Frank Ordaz, our Director of Financial Planning, can be found at http://www.capmetro.org/budget2013/

We’re makin’ some progress

Capital Metro published its promised community progress report today outlining the status of several recommendations made by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission in July.

Capital Metro has been working hard to make needed changes, and the report indicates the agency’s substantial progress.  Eleven of the 18 recommendations are either fully implemented or substantially implemented.

“The swift progress made on these recommendations demonstrates Capital Metro’s commitment to transparency, accountability and credibility,” said President/CEO Linda S. Watson. “This is a clear signal that we are raising the bar and changing the way we do business every day. Our efforts will not stop here because we must earn the public’s trust to successfully fulfill our critical role within the community.”

The Sunset recommendations focus on four key areas: finance, labor, rail and governance/public engagement. Capital Metro addressed several recommendations at the board of directors meeting on Sept. 24 when the board approved:

– Balanced budget for FY2011, including capital spending (the complete, adopted budget document will be available online soon)
– Cash reserve policy
– Railroad bridge replacement plan
– Community involvement policy
– Advisory committee policy
– MetroAccess policy changes
– Elimination of free fares for seniors and passengers with disabilities (pending public outreach and final approval of the proposed fare structure)

Capital Metro also exceeded Sunset recommendations by earning the “Gold” designation from the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle for posting detailed financial information online.