Capital MetroBlog is published by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, Texas. Capital Metro is the region’s public transportation provider, operating a slew of local bus, express, and UT Shuttle routes, Capital MetroRail, vanpools, MetroAccess paratransit services and a 163-mile freight line from Llano to Giddings.
This week, commuters are encouraged to keep their cars at home and use their bikes to get to work. May 13-17 is Bike to Work Week capped off by Bike to Work Day May 17.
The Austin bike community shows up big for Bike to Work Day with live music and complimentary drinks and snacks at special fueling stations along the way. New bike commuters can try routes alongside experienced cyclists and guides.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40% of all trips are less than two miles. From 2000 to 2013, bike commuters grew by 62%. Austin’s plethora of bike and pedestrian-only trails and well-marked bike lanes make the city ideal for commuters and Capital Metro is more than happy to help those wanting to make that transition.
If your job is farther than you’re comfortable riding, you can combine your bike commute with a bus or train ride. Capital Metro has convenient racks on the exterior of all local and MetroRapid buses that hold up to three bikes per rack. There is also space on each train compartment for bikes.
You can also lock and leave your bike at special bike shelters located at our most popular MetroRail stations and transit centers. They provide safe, secure places for you to stow your bike while you complete your commute. Think of it as a bicycle Park and Ride.
The shelters are at:
MLK Jr. Station
Plaza Saltillo Station
Tech Ridge Park & Ride
South Congress Transit Center
Get more information on secured bike shelters here. Follow this link to learn more about Capital Metro’s bike-friendly transit.
Don’t let this opportunity to bike to work pass you by!
Distracted driving is a primary factor that contributes to one out of every six traffic-related deaths and serious injuries. Daydreaming is the number one distraction. Cognitive distractions can happen at any moment while driving. From commuting to running errands, drivers can easily become distracted by their thoughts. Thinking about a work-related problem or daydreaming about your dinner plans diminishes the mental abilities required to drive safely. The danger of daydreaming and driving is that you don’t become aware of it until an accident has happened. According to a 2018 study by Erie Insurance, 61 percent of fatal car crashes were caused by people who claim to be “lost in their thoughts.” Unlike texting and driving, daydreaming might be more difficult to avoid. Maintaining a clear mind and staying actively engaged are essential to preventing distracted driving.
Follow these tips to stay alert and aware:
Plan your driving routes. This allows you to stay focused on the road and not on figuring out directions.
Self-check your mental and emotional state. It might be best to get a ride or take transit and avoid driving if you are feeling emotionally or mentally overwhelmed.
Make a playlist with music that helps you focus. Upbeat music can help you stay alert and awake. Download the music that works best for you.
Chew gum to stay alert. Studies show chewing gum helps.
Texting while driving has become one of the leading causes of distracted-driving related accidents, especially among teens and young adults. Statistics show that even though texting while driving is banned in 47 states it is still a common practice despite the risks involved. Technology is ingrained in the lives of teens and young adults generating constant distractions while driving. Talking, texting and posting to social media increases the probability of being involved in a car accident. Sending out a text message, even with voice assistance, may not seem dangerous but it can be devastating. Staying focused while driving is not always easy, but it can be life-saving. Call or text later when you’re off the road! #JustDrive #HeadsUpAustin
Capital Metro wants Austin drivers to know April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. All month we’ll be raising awareness about distracted driving behaviors and potential consequences while providing helpful tips to stay safe.
We will highlight examples of the three most common types of distracted driving; cognitive, manual and visual, and offer tips to avoid these risky behaviors. As drivers, we must be aware of our behaviors to prevent and avoid accidents and strive to always act responsibly when behind the wheel. Traffic deaths and injuries are no joke.
Numerous accidents are caused by unnecessary distractions like texting, talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup or simply daydreaming. Don’t put yourself or someone else at risk when you’re behind the wheel. Take this month to pledge to become a better driver. Stay tuned for our weekly blogs with information and tips on ways to prevent distracted driving.
This year during SXSW, Capital Metro has deployed three K-9 teams to deter crime through random, unannounced searches and sweeps at our facilities and on our transit vehicles. The K-9s are trained to detect odors from materials and chemicals used to make explosives.
The dogs are well-traveled; they were acquired in Germany by the Department of Homeland Security for high-threat detail. Each is tasked with working large events in other states, like the Super Bowl or national political conventions, where crowds are expected.
Capital Metro is utilizing the K-9 teams to provide a secure environment for our customers and event participants alike. We’re proud to feature the dogs and their partner officers from the Austin Police Department:
Officer Monty Pearson and K-9 Jery
Jery, a male German Shepherd, has been in service for seven years, since the age of 2. His favorite treats are Greenies chews. Jery loves running and playing catch with his Frisbee.
Officer Tanis Rodriguez and K-9 Kan
Kan, a male Belgian Malinois, is four years old and has been in service since the age of 15 months. He enjoys treats of beef jerky, and playing with a Kong toy used in his training, as well as playing fetch with his Frisbee. When not working, Kan’s favorite thing to do is sleep on the couch at the ABIA Police Substation office.
Officer John Beese and K-9 Rea
Rea is a female German Shorthaired Pointer. She’s been in service since 2010, and is now just over 8 years old. Rea’s favorite activity is running and playing catch with a rubber ball.
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:
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.
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.)
Capital Metro President and CEO Randy Clarke spoke today to the Travis County Commissioners Court about an upcoming study of the MetroRail Green Line, a proposed commuter rail service between Austin and Manor.
The study will be funded by a $600,000 grant provided by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) won by the agency in December 2018. It will examine the potential for transit-oriented development (TOD) along the Green Line, which is one of several corridors identified as potential Project Connect services, the long-term vision for a regional public transportation system.
The Green Line would operate on 15 miles of track owned by Capital Metro. It would travel east from Downtown Station toward Johnny Morris Road and the Colony Park area of eastern Travis County before reaching Manor.
Cap Metro is thrilled once again to work with our partners at the Austin Public Library to bring folks down to the UT Austin campus for Girl Day on February 23. The event will bring together more than 8,000 elementary and middle school students on campus to celebrate International Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, which is called just Girl Day (or even #UTGirlDay if you like a hashtag).
The students will be able to do a ton of hands-on stuff that’ll get them familiar with what engineers do and how they make the world work. The kids will work with more than 1,500 UT students, faculty members and professional engineers from around Central Texas. They’ll also have loads of fun!
(And, just to be clear, boys are welcome, too.)
The festival takes place on campus from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23. All are welcome. That is, if you can get down there. You know, with the traffic and the parking fees and the headaches. That’s where we come in.
We’re providingfree Park & Ride services from 6 Austin Public Library locations for the day, giving you the chance to avoid the hassle and cost that come with trying to get to and park on campus. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can park at any of the 6 library locations listed below, go inside to request your free Local Day Pass and Trip Guide, and then hop on the bus. You can also download a free digital Day Pass to your CapMetro App and, as always, KIDS RIDE FREE.
YOU MUST REGISTER FOR YOUR FREE RIDE AT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS:
This month marks the one-year anniversary of MetroExpress operating on the new MoPac Express Lanes. Ridership increases on MetroExpress routes have been stellar! With added service and the use of the express lanes that help deliver faster and more reliable service, more people are choosing MetroExpress as an efficient way to get between home in surrounding communities and work, school, appointments and fun in Austin’s core. In the seven months since the start of Cap Remap, Capital Metro’s largest-ever bus system redesign, ridership on our MetroExpress routes has seen an increase of more than 32%.
System-wide ridership has also seen steady increases since we launched Cap Remap in June 2018. A seven-month analysis reveals that system-wide ridership increased 3% since the Cap Remap began. With an emphasis on improved service levels comparable to weekday service, Saturday and Sunday averages were also up – more than 11% and 22% respectively.
While these early ridership results are great, we’ll continue to work to meet our customers’ needs and expectations, and to improve our entire system’s efficiency and coverage with the resources we have available.
December 2018 vs December 2017 comparison:
System-wide ridership this December increased more than 5% compared to the same month the year before. Ridership gains can be seen on several fronts. Here are some of the highlights:
This month, a stretch of West 5th Street will debut a big change for Central Austin: a bus & bike-only lane that will speed transit service into downtown and encourage people to get out of their cars and onto the bus.
The new lane on 5th Street west of MoPac is similar to the bus-priority lanes on Guadalupe and Lavaca Streets. Working with Cap Metro, the Austin Transportation Department is converting a bike lane that ran all the way to Lamar Blvd into a dedicated bus & bike lane for a half-mile section between West Lynn and Baylor Streets.
The bus & bike lane will have signal priority for the traffic light at West 5th & Baylor. That means while all other traffic is stopped at a red light, buses and bicycles will be allowed through the intersection. Bikes will continue in the same lane, and buses will be free to switch lanes as they proceed toward the busy Lamar & 5th Street intersection.
The reason we’re doing this is to save time for our customers by allowing buses to travel free from other traffic, just as we did last year when MetroExpress routes began to use the MoPac Express Lanes. Currently during peak traffic times, it takes our buses between 7 and 10 minutes to go from MoPac through the Lamar & 5th Street intersection. We expect this change to cut that time in half!
Those five routes send roughly 20 buses through that corridor per hour during peak commute times. And now they’ll be doing so in half the time.
This is just the start, too. Capital Metro and the city of Austin have long worked closely together, and that partnership is getting stronger. Later in the spring, we’ll have more to announce on this front.