Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority
logo
Founded July 1, 1986
Headquarters 2910 E. Fifth Street
Locale Austin, Texas
Service area Austin, Travis and parts of Williamson Counties
Service type Bus, passenger rail, van pool
Routes 49 metro, 12 special, 8 express, 19 UT shuttle, 1 passenger rail
Stops 3,000+
Hubs 22(transfer centers/ park and ride)
Stations 9 (passenger rail)
Fleet 417
Daily ridership 130,000[1]
Fuel type ultra-low sulfur diesel, Diesel-electric hybrid
Operator CMTA
Chief executive Linda Watson[2]
Website capmetro.org

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Capital Metro, is a public transportation provider located in Austin, Texas. It operates bus, paratransit services and a commuter rail system known as Capital MetroRail for Austin and several suburbs in Travis and Williamson counties. In January 2014, Capital Metro launched Capital MetroRapid, an express service operating in shared lanes with automobile traffic.[3]

Voters approved the creation of Capital Metro in January 1985, agreeing to fund the organization with a one percent sales tax. In December 2010, Capital Metro ridership numbered approximately 140,000 trips per day and has the highest per capita ridership in Texas.[4]

History[edit]

Capital Metro headquarter complex

Capital Metro was established by a referendum on January 19, 1985, to provide mass transportation service to the greater Austin metropolitan area. Voters in Austin and the surrounding area approved the creation of the agency, to be funded in part by a 1 percent sales tax. Capital Metro commenced operations on July 1, 1985, and took over the existing city of Austin bus services in 1986.[5]

In an effort to boost ridership, Capital Metro did away with fares completely and instituted fare-free in an experiment that lasted from October 1989 to December 1990. The program was enormously successful in attracting new passengers, and increased ridership by 75% (but expanded service accounted for some of the growth). The fare-free scheme, however, attracted problem riders who drove away quality ridership. In response, 75% of transit drivers voted to have the program discontinued immediately in 1990.[6]

Metro Access vehicle

In 1997 Capital Metro was the subject of a string of Texas Legislature and FBI investigations that uncovered a dysfunctional organization beset by poor management. As a result, the Legislature subsequently overhauled Capital Metro and its board of directors in an attempt to make the transit authority both more effective and transparent ahead of a performance review by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.[7] The review cited an "ongoing criminal investigation" by the FBI, "irresponsible management", "expensive, embarrassing mistakes", "dubious contracting and purchasing practices", and $118,000 spent on "food, parties, and presents for its employees" and culminated with, "We have never, in all of the performance reviews we have conducted, seen an agency with such a lack of accountability."[8]

As part of this restructuring, the Legislature ordered Capital Metro to hold an up-or-down referendum on passenger rail. In response, Capital Metro released an ambitious plan that proposed to spend $1.9 billion for a light rail system with 52 miles of track on existing streets. The referendum was narrowly defeated in November 2000 by 2,000 votes, with voters in central Austin tending to favor it, while those outside the city limits did not.[9] Capital Metro prepared a greatly scaled-back version for voters in November 2004. The updated plan sought to build just one starter line that would run north-south at a cost $90 million. While the project was somewhat marred by construction delays, questions and safety and cost overruns, the Red Line of the Capital MetroRail began service on March 22, 2010.[10]

Capital Metro had its first passenger/bus fatality in its operating history on January 30, 2012, when route 383 operated by Veolia Transportation bus struck a pedestrian crossing Braker Ln and Jollyville. This was due to a number of factors including sharp left turns at the intersection of Braker and Jollyville, the fact the 2-3 bus routes turn on a narrow stretch of turn lane, bad weather, and using buses that are near end of life or end of life such in the case with the buses contracted out to Veolia that were once used for StarTran bus services.[11]

There have been several passenger injuries that have been reported on Veolia, StarTran, and First Transit routes in which First Transit exceeds performance ratings, StarTran in the middle, and Veolia failing to consistently meet performance ratings. A safety review plan has been communicated with Veolia Transportation in 2011. The board of directors have been constantly reviewing ways of improvement for that contractor.

Funding conflicts[edit]

The source of Capital Metro's funding has been a source of considerable and consistent controversy since the transit authority's founding in 1985. In December 1988, the board of directors voluntarily lowered the sales and use tax to 0.75-cent. In June 1995, the Board of Directors reinstated the sales and use tax to the full one percent effective October 1, 1995, promising to set aside the additional revenue for funding light rail.[12]

Capital Metro, after raising its sale tax from 0.75 percent to 1 percent in 1995, had stockpiled $176 million by the 2000 referendum. When light rail was defeated at the polls in 2000, however, pressure mounted to return the quarter-cent it had been setting aside for rail projects. For years, mass transit detractors had coveted the quarter percentage earmarked for rail projects. Political leaders and organizations, including former Republican state Rep. Terry Keel of Austin, Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and his anti-rail group Reclaim Our Allocated Dollars (ROAD), wanted the sales-tax money to build projects such as a highway loop around Austin and an east-west freeway. As pressure mounted on Capital Metro, Keel announced his intention to roll Capital Metro's taxing authority back to a half-cent and redirecting the other half-cent to highway construction.[13]

To head that off and keep rail's future prospects alive, the Capital Metro board passed resolutions in the months after the vote making two promises: It would direct $91 million of its existing reserves to local governments for transportation projects, and it would dispense all proceeds that year from a quarter-cent of its tax to those same local governments. That quarter-cent promise was later extended for three more years, eventually amounting to $113 million, for a total of $204 million.[14]

The city of Austin, given that something on the order of 97 percent of Capital Metro sales taxes come from within the city, was to be the primary beneficiary of those promises. Since 2000, at least $106 million of the $204 million promised to Austin and smaller cities such as Manor and Leander. At the same time, however, it was spending more than $300 million on commuter rail, park-and-ride lots, a new maintenance and operations center, and other facilities. As the Great Recession spread to Austin in 2009, tax revenues dried up and Capital Metro had to stop payment on a $51 million load owed to Austin as part of a 2001 agreement. [15]

Member jurisdictions[edit]

South Congress Transit Center

The following jurisdictions participate in the Capital Metro system, all in Travis and Williamson Counties.[16]

The original jurisdictions of Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Rollingwood, and West Lake Hills have withdrawn from Capital Metro.[17] Service to other areas in the Austin metropolitan area is provided by the Capital Area Rural Transportation System. Capital Metro recently voted to allow a new policy that would allow new member cities to hire the transit authority to provide transit service, without using the 1% sales tax.[18]

Capital MetroBus[edit]

Capital Metro MetroBus

Capital Metro's fixed route bus service includes 49 metro routes and 8 Express routes as of 2008. It has several categories of routes: Local Service, Flyer and Limited, Feeder, Crosstown, Special Services, Express and University of Texas Shuttles. At the agency's inception, Capital Metro originally operated a series of "paired" route service where two different routes that pass through downtown are served by the same buses, allowing riders to transfer between certain routes without leaving the bus. Since 2000, this practice has been eliminated and after a number of route pair reassignments, the agency merged the paired routes under single route numbers (for example, the 1 North Lamar and 13 South Congress were originally paired as they were the two busiest routes in the system, but they have since been merged as 1 North Lamar/South Congress). Meanwhile, most local routes carried two digits before Capital Metro assigned a third digit for routes that do not serve downtown in 2000 (for example, 25 Ohlen became 325). Flyer routes were renumbered altogether to match their local stop counterparts (for example, Manchaca Flyer became 103), while express routes that operated during commute times only contained letters (for example, NEX Northeast Express was renamed 990 Manor/Elgin Express).

University of Texas Shuttle System[edit]

A Capital Metro bus painted in University of Texas at Austin colors.

The University of Texas' shuttle system, operated by Capital Metro, is the largest university transit system in the United States. The UT Shuttle System boasts 14 routes, 87 buses and carries approximately 7.5 million passengers a year. UT students, faculty, and staff may ride the shuttles at no charge with a valid UT photo ID. Without a UT photo ID, the charge is $1 for local service and UT shuttle service, and $2.75 for express service.[19]

During the five fiscal years that ended in September 2009, hours of shuttle service declined by 16.3 percent and passengers declined by 28 percent. Capital Metro attributes some of that ridership loss to UT students and staffers moving in greater numbers to regular Capital Metro bus routes, where they also ride for free. During the same period, non-shuttle ridership by UT students and staffers increased to 2.3 million from 1.6 million. Still, combined shuttle and non-shuttle UT ridership has declined.[20]

History[edit]

The relationship between the university and Capital Metro dates to 1989, when the agency took over service that private bus companies had provided for 20 years. Capital Metro offered snazzier buses with air conditioning, but it immediately lengthened the time between some bus runs.[21]

In 1983, the University of Texas received six bids to manage the shuttle system. Capital Metro entered into the picture in 1988, when the university contracted out to them. Capital Metro, in turn, then subcontracted out to Laidlaw International, Inc., who had, up to that point, operated orange and white school buses[22][23] for the university on a contractual basis. Rather than use Laidlaw's existing bus fleet, however, Capital Metro used their own. In so doing, Capital Metro brought air conditioning and wheelchair accessibility to the shuttle service for the first time.[24] The transition, however, was not without controversy. Among the other contested issues was the fact that these new shuttles didn't have a stereo system[25][26]

In 1991, Capital Metro canceled its contract with Laidlaw and contracted out with DAVE Transportation, instead[27][28]

Amidst allegations of union busting, in 1999, Capital Metro canceled its then current contract and instead contracted out with ATC/Vancom, instead[28][29][30] Six years later, in 2005, Capital Metro, citing concerns over the comparatively low wages ATC/Vancom paid, negotiated a contract with First Transit to operate the UT shuttle buses.[31]

Independent of the university shuttle system, Capital Metro has, since September 19, 2002,[32][33] operated so-called "E-Bus" routes, to ferry students between heavily populated student residential areas to within a block of 6th Street. These buses run from 8:00-9:00pm to 3:00am, Thursday through Sunday.[34] The E in "E-Bus" stands for "eating and entertainment" and funding was initially provided for by companies advertising on the bus.[35] On April 1, 2010, the Daily Texan reported that, in an attempt to curb passenger unruliness, Capital Metro was requiring students swipe their student IDs before boarding and that the University of Texas would start paying for some of the services.[36]

Routes[edit]

The UT Shuttle system includes a number of routes during the University of Texas semester. Shuttle service is available on weekdays when classes are in session. They do not operate on Saturdays, except during finals. UT Shuttles primarily use letter abbreviations in their signage, though all routes are both lettered and numbered, in the 600-699 range. Local fares apply.

Routes are current as of June 2014.

Route Name Destination Notes
640 FA Forty Acres E 23rd at San Jacinto — Guadalupe at W 23rd Circular service, runs clockwise.
641 EC East Campus E 23rd at San Jacinto — UFCU Disch-Falk Field Circular service, runs clockwise.
642 WC West Campus San Jacinto at E 23rd — San Gabriel at W 25th Circular service, runs counterclockwise.
652 PRC Pickle Research Campus Deen Keeton at Speedway — Road A at James Hart Northbound service via Mopac Expressway, southbound service via US 183 and I-35. To be eliminated Fall 2014.
653 RR Red River E 46th at Bennett — E 23rd at Trinity Portions of the route also served by Route 10.
656 IF Intramural Fields E 26th at San Jacinto — Guadalupe at W 51st
661 FW Far West Deen Keeton at Speedway — Village Center Service via Mopac Expressway between W 35th and Far West.
663 LA Lake Austin Whitis at W 21st — Kermit at Jasper Also serves Downtown Austin.
670 CP Crossing Place E 23rd at San Jacinto — 1300 Crossing Place Service via I-35 between E Riverside Drive and E MLK Drive.
680 NR/LS North Riverside/Lakeshore E 23rd at San Jacinto — Wickersham at E Riverside Overnight service, served by Route 670 during daytime. Service via I-35 between E Riverside Drive and E MLK Drive. Signed as "NR/LS Combined Route". Formerly two separate routes.
681 IF/FW Intramural Fields/Far West E 26th at San Jacinto — Village Center Sunday afternoon and evening service, served by Routes 656 and 661 at other times. Signed as "IF/FW Combined Route". Service via Mopac Expressway between Allandale and Far West.

Local Service Routes[edit]

Capital Metro's Local routes are intended to connect specific neighborhoods of Austin to Downtown Austin, with frequent stops. North-south service within downtown Austin for all routes is provided via Lavaca Street northbound and Guadalupe Street southbound, with all routes (excepting for local routes terminating downtown from points north) serving at least one stop along either route. East-west service within downtown Austin for all routes is provided via 5th Street eastbound and 4th and 6th Streets westbound, so as to provide a connection along the Lavaca/Guadalupe corridor. Local service is designated by routes 1-99. Local fares apply.

Routes are current as of June 2014.

Route Name Destination Notes
1 Metric / South Congress Tech Ridge Park and Ride via North Lamar Transit Center — E William Cannon at Bluff Springs via South Congress Transit Center Some trips detour via ACC Northridge. Sometimes signed as "1 North Lamar / South Congress via Metric" for historical purposes.
2 Rosewood Colorado at W 9th — Lott at Chico
3 Burnet Manchaca at W Slaughter — Great Hills at Stonelake Interlined with Route 10 at southern terminus.
4 Montopolis Atlanta at Veterans — ACC Riverside
5 Woodrow / South 5th Stagebrush at Monterey Oaks — Northcross Mall
6 East 12th Colorado at W 9th — Tannehill at Webberville Interlined with Route 323 at eastern terminus.
7 Duval / Dove Springs E William Cannon at Bluff Springs — Rutherford Wal-Mart Some trips detoured via Route 333 routing.
10 South First / Red River Manchaca at W Slaughter — Aberdeen at E Rundberg Some trips detoured via I-35 at E 51st. Interlined with Route 3 at southern terminus.
17 Cesar Chavez 8th at Congress — Gardner at Lotus
18 ML King Exposition at Lake Austin — Hefflin at Springdale
19 Bull Creek Colorado at W 9th — Northcross at Foster
20 Manor / Riverside ACC Riverside — Loyola at Ed Bluestein Sometimes signed as "20 Manor Road / Riverside"
21
22
Exposition
Chicon
Martinez at E 2nd — Exposition at W 35th Route 21 runs clockwise, Route 22 runs counterclockwise. Signed as "21 Exposition Loop" and "22 Chicon Loop".
30 Barton Creek Square W 8th at Colorado — South Congress Transit Center via Barton Creek Square Mall
37 Colony Park Colorado at W 9th — Wentworth at Loyola Some trips detoured via I-35 at E 51st.

MetroRapid Routes[edit]

Capital Metro's MetroRapid routes is a bus rapid transit service serving high-traffic corridors at 15-minute frequencies weekdays. MetroRapid service is designated by routes 800-899. Premium fares apply.

Route Name Destination Notes
801 North Lamar / South Congress Tech Ridge Park and Ride — Southpark Meadows Local service provided by Route 1, 201, and 275. Former branch of Route 1.
803 Burnet / South Lamar The Domain — Westgate Mall Announced service for Fall 2014. Local service provided by Route 3.

Limited and Flyer routes[edit]

Capital Metro's Limited and Flyer routes are limited stop services between two destinations. Limited routes tend to have fewer stops compared to their local counterparts, while Flyer routes serve nonstop between downtown or the UT campus and their neighborhoods of service. Limited and Flyer routes are designated by routes 100-199. Premium fares apply.

Route Name Destination Notes
100 MetroAirport Flyer San Jacinto at E 23rd — Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
103 Manchaca Flyer Slaughter at Manchaca — Deen Keeton at Guadalupe Rush hour service. Service northbound in the morning peak, and southbound in the afternoon peak. Passengers may not board at points beyond Manchaca at Prather when travelling northbound. Passengers may not board at points beyond N Lamar at W 5th when travelling southbound. To be discontinued Fall 2014 in favor of MetroRapid service.
110 South Central Flyer Minturn at United Kingdom — Red River at E 32nd Rush hour service. Service northbound in the morning peak, and southbound in the afternoon peak. Passengers may not board at points beyond S 1st at Stassney when travelling northbound. Passengers may not board at points beyond S 1st at Barton Springs when travelling southbound.
111 South Mopac Flyer Escarpment at South Bay — San Jacinto at Deen Keeton Rush hour service. Service northbound in the morning peak, and southbound in the afternoon peak. Service via Mopac Expressway between W William Cannon and W Cesar Chavez.
122 Four Points Limited Capital Metro headquarters — Lakeline Station via 3M Rush hour service. Service northbound in the morning peak, and southbound in the afternoon peak.
127 Dove Springs Flyer E William Cannon at Bluff Springs — Red River at E 32nd Rush hour service. Service northbound in the morning peak, and southbound in the afternoon peak. Service via I-35 between E Stassney and E Cesar Chavez. Passengers may not board at points beyond E Stassney at I-35 when travelling northbound. Passengers may not board at points beyond E Cesar Chavez at Trinity when travelling southbound.
135 Dell Limited E 7th at Pleasant Valley — Tech Ridge Park and Ride Rush hour service. Service northbound in the morning peak, and southbound in the afternoon peak. Service via I-35 between Airport and Parmer.
142 Metric Flyer S Congress at Riverside — Amherst at Duval Rush hour service. Service southbound in the morning peak, and northbound in the afternoon peak. Service via I-35 between MLK and E Rundberg. Passengers may not board at points beyond W Rundberg at N Lamar when travelling southbound. Passengers may not board at points beyond Congress at 18th when travelling northbound.
171 Oak Hill Flyer Silver Mine at SR Loop 171 — Red River at E 32nd Rush hour service (with exception of a single reverse peak run midday). Service northbound in the morning peak, and southbound in the afternoon peak. Service via Mopac Expressway between W Cesar Chavez and Old Fredericksburg.

Feeder Routes[edit]

Capital Metro's Feeder routes are local services between a neighborhood and a major transfer point for connecting service. Feeder routes are designated by routes 200-299. Local fares apply.

Route Name Destination Notes
201 Southpark Meadows Akins High School — E William Cannon at Bluff Springs Some service short-turns at Southpark Meadows.
214 Northwest Flex Thunderbird at Dawn — Lakeline Station
228 Burleson Metropolis at Veteran's Center — South Congress Transit Center
238 Westgate Aftonshire at Nightjar — Western Trail at Sagebrush
240 Rutland North Lamar Transit Center — 2501 Parmer / Market
243 Wells Branch Howard Station — Tech Ridge Park and Ride
271 Del Valle Flex ACC Riverside — Rass Road
275 North Lamar Feeder North Lamar Transit Center - Tech Ridge Park and Ride

Crosstown Routes[edit]

Capital Metro's Crosstown routes are local services between two neighborhoods of Austin, for which the route does not pass through Downtown Austin or the University of Texas. Crosstown routes are designated by routes 300-399. Local fares apply.

Route Name Destination Notes
300 Govalle North Lamar Transit Center — South Congress Transit Center
311 Stassney ACC Riverside — Westgate at S Lamar Interlined with Route 338 at western terminus.
320 St. Johns Burton at Oltorf — Village Center
323 Anderson Northcross Mall via North Lamar Transit Center — Webberville at Tannerhill Interlined with Route 6 at eastern terminus.
325 Ohlen Foster at Anderson — Rutherford Wal-Mart
331 Oltorf Westgate Mall — ACC Riverside
333 William Cannon ACC Pinnacle — Onion Creek at Pleasant Valley / Thaxton at Panadero Trips eastbound serve one terminus before serving the other terminus; the first terminus served depends on time of day and day of week.
338 Lamar / 45th Westgate at Western Trail / Hancock Center Interlined with Route 311 at southern terminus.
350 Airport Boulevard North Lamar Transit Center — Travis County Correctional Complex via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, ACC Riverside
383 Research North Lamar Transit Center — Lakeline Station
392 Braker Great Hills / Stonelake — Tech Ridge Park and Ride

Special Services[edit]

Capital Metro's Special services are routes that do not fit in any other category. Special Services are designated as routes 400-499. Local fares apply.

Route Name Destination Notes
410 E-Bus West Campus Nueces at W 27th — 7th at San Jacinto Late night and overnight service. No service during summer months.
411 E-Bus Riverside Crossing Place — 7th at San Jacinto Late night and overnight service. No service during summer months.
412 E-Bus Main Campus Guadalupe at W 21st — 7th at San Jacinto Late night and overnight service. No service during summer months.
464 Capitol MetroRail Connector Congress at 18th — MLK Jr. Station Rush hour service.
465 UT MetroRail Connector San Jacinto at 23rd — MLK Jr. Station
466 Kramer/Domain MetroRail Connector Pickle Research Campus — ACC Northridge via Kramer Station Circular service, runs counterclockwise. Alternates between serving Pickle Research Campus and ACC Northridge.
481 Night Owl North Lamar 6th at Congress — N Lamar at W Rundberg Overnight route.
483 Night Owl Riverside 6th at Congress — Oltorf at Burton Overnight route.
484 Night Owl South Lamar 6th at Congress — Victory at Ben White Overnight route.
485 Night Owl Cameron 6th at Congress — Rutherford Wal-Mart Overnight route.
486 Night Owl South Congress 6th at Congress — Pleasant Valley at E William Cannon Overnight route.
490 HEB Shuttle E Riverside at Pleasant Valley — RBJ Center / E Cesar Chavez at Trinity Midday service only, services four days a week. Monday and Thursday service terminates at E Cesar Chavez at Trinity. Wednesday and Friday service terminates at RBJ Center.
491 Allandale N Lamar at W 38th — Rockwood at Ashdale Midday service only, services Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Curb-to-curb paratransit service operating along fixed route.
492 Delwood Hancock Center — Rutherford Wal-Mart Midday service only, services Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Curb-to-curb paratransit service operating along fixed route.

Express Routes[edit]

Capital Metro's Express services are limited stop services that run between Downtown Austin and the far suburbs. Express routes are designated as routes 900-999. Commuter fares apply.

Route Name Destination Notes
935 Tech Ridge Express E Riverside at I-35 — Tech Ridge Park and Ride Rush hour service. Service southbound in the morning peak, and northbound in the afternoon peak. Service via I-35 between MLK Jr. and Parmer. Passengers may not board at any point other than at Tech Ridge Park and Ride when travelling southbound. Some trips are interlined with Route 135 at Tech Ridge Park and Ride.
970 Lantana Express W 4th at Guadalupe — Oak Hill Park and Ride Rush hour reverse-peak service. Service southbound in the morning peak, and northbound in the afternoon peak. Some trips are interlined with Route 982 downtown.
982 Pavilion Express W 4th at Guadalupe — Pavilion Park and Ride Rush hour and midday service. Rush hour service is southbound in the morning peak and northbound in the afternoon peak; midday service is in both directions. Some trips are interlined with Route 970 downtown. Passengers may not board at points past W 38th at N Lamar when travelling in either direction.
983 North US 183 Express W 4th at Guadalupe — Leander Station via Lakeline Station Passengers may not board at points past W 38th at N Lamar when travelling in either direction.
985 Leander/Lakeline Direct E Riverside at I-35Leander Station via Lakeline Station Rush hour service. Service southbound in the morning peak, and northbound in the afternoon peak. Passengers may not board at points past Lakeline Station when travelling southbound.
987 Leander/Northwest Express E Riverside at I-35Leander Station via Lakeline Station Rush hour service. Service southbound in the morning peak, and northbound in the afternoon peak. Passengers may not board at points past Lakeline Station when travelling southbound.
990 Manor/Elgin Express W 2nd at Guadalupe — Elgin Depot Signed as "990 NE Express". Rush hour service. Service westbound in the morning peak, and westbound in the afternoon peak. Additional CARTS fare is required for travelling to or from destinations beyond Manor Park and Ride.

MetroRail[edit]

Capital Metro's train service, Capital MetroRail, is designated routes in the 500-599 series. Commuter fares apply.

Route Name Destination Notes
550 Red Line Downtown StationLeander Station Rush hour service to Leander Station only; midday service terminates at Kramer Station or Lakeline Station.

Vehicles[edit]

The majority of the current bus fleet consists of vehicles produced by two manufacturers, Gillig and New Flyer, with only relatively small generational design variations, most visibly in the use of flip-dot destination displays on older series versus LED displays on newer buses. A few smaller series of buses were acquired from other manufacturers, notably Optima (used preferentially on MetroRail shuttles) and MCI (used on express services). Older bus series produced by TMC and Blue Bird are no longer in service.

Capital MetroRapid[edit]

Main article: Capital MetroRapid

In January 2014, Capital Metro launched an express bus service branded "MetroRapid," articulated buses operating in shared lanes with automobile traffic. Service on the first route, MetroRapid North Lamar/South Congress (Route 801), began on January 26, 2014.[37] It replaced existing bus Routes 1L and 1M, as well as the 101 Express, which traveled along the same corridor. Route 801 has drawn protest from citizens for implementing high premium fares.[3] Ridership has been lower than what the agency ideally envisioned because fares are no longer local.

Planned Service[edit]

A second route, MetroRapid Burnet/South Lamar (Route 803), will serve a total of 34 stations between The Domain and Westgate. It is expected to begin operation by summer 2015.[38]

Capital MetroRail[edit]

Austin Metrorail train at Downtown Station.
Main article: Capital MetroRail

In 2004, after four years of additional lobbying by Capital Metro, Capital Metro won approval to build a commuter rail on existing freight rail lines. In September 2005, Capital Metro awarded a contract to Stadler Rail to build six diesel-electric rail cars for the system,[39] each possessing a capacity of up to 230 passengers. The initial cost for this rail line was planned to be $90 million; however, continued construction problems and safety issues caused the project to exceed budget and to be delayed.[40][41] The Capital MetroRail opened March 22, 2010.

Fare structure[edit]

Capital Metro Public Information and Fare Office in the McKean-Eilers Building in Downtown Austin

Capital Metro operates routes using three different fare classes: Local, Premium, and Commuter. Fares are valid for a single trip only; Capital Metro does not issue bus transfers. However, Capital Metro offers passengers an unlimited ride day pass, good for travel on any route of the same or lower fare class, for the price of two single fares of the corresponding fare class. 7-day passes and 31-day passes are also available for frequent riders.

Passes may be purchased in physical form in select retailers, or at MetroRail stations (Commuter fare class only). Passes are also available for purchase when boarding a bus for the same or higher fare class. Passes may be purchased in digital form via the Capital Metro app.

All fare information is current as of June 2014.

Fare Type Local Premium Commuter
Single Ride $1 $1.50 $2.75
7-Day Pass $9 $13.50 $22
31-Day Pass $33 $49.50 $77

Holders of valid Reduced Fare IDs issued by Capital Metro (to seniors 65 and over, Medicare card holders, persons with disabilities, students 6-18 with valid school identification, and active and reserve military with valid ID) may ride Capital Metro services for half the listed price. Capital Metro also offer stored value tickets in denominations of $20 and $40.

Holders of physical passes must swipe the magnetic stripe on their pass when boarding a bus. Holders of stored value tickets must tap their tickets when boarding a bus. Holders of digital passes must scan their passes in a QR code reader aboard MetroRapid buses, or shown to the driver on all other buses. MetroRail operates on a proof-of-payment system; passengers must show proof upon request. Holders of the Reduced Fare ID must first tap their card against a bus reader before paying the appropriate fare.

Fares are waived for passengers 5 and under with an accompanying adult, as well as emergency and military personnel in uniform. Through separate paid agreements with Capital Metro, students, faculty, and staff of both the University of Texas and Austin Community College, as well as City of Austin employees, may ride all Capital Metro services for no charge with valid identification.

Capital MetroAccess, the paratransit system operated by Capital Metro, operates on a separate fare scale:

Fare Type Price
Single Ride $1
10-Ride Ticket Book $15
Monthly Pass $40

Persons eligible to use MetroAccess services may ride on Capital Metro buses and trains at the reduced rate. Holders of the MetroAccess monthly pass may use their pass as a Capital Metro 31-Day Commuter pass.

Finances and governance[edit]

Capital Metro headquarter building

Board of directors[edit]

The board of directors was changed once again through state legislation in 2010 to increase the total number of board members from seven to eight. The new law also reduces the number of elected officials who are required to serve on the board, and institutes new requirements regarding the professional experience of certain appointees. The new board will consist of three members appointed by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, including an elected official; one member representing the small cities in Capital Metro's service area; a member each appointed by the Travis County Commissioners and Williamson County commissioners; and two members appointed by the Austin City Council, in which one must be a member of the Austin City Council.[42]

Labor relations[edit]

As a public entity, Capital Metro is prohibited by Texas law from entering into a traditional collective bargaining agreement with a labor union in the United States. In 1991, however, to comply fully with a state law prohibiting public entities from supervising unionized employees with collective bargaining rights,[43] the Capital Metro board determined that its unionized employees and their supervisors should be transferred to a separate non-profit company. In January 1992, Capital Metro created Startran, Inc., a private entity that acts as the authority's agent in managing its unionized workforce.[44]

On the other hand, Metro drivers and mechanics are represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union, a major labor union representing workers in the transit system that boasts over 188,000 members representing workers.[45][46] StarTran and the AUT have in the past had troubled contract negotiations, that most recently resulted in a general strike in November 2008.[47]

In 2008, StarTran voted to begin a general strike, despite the fact that StarTran employees were already the highest paid bus operators in the state.[48] Beginning on November 5, 2008, the strike caused the transit agency to reduce its fixed and paratransit service levels, particularly impacting Austin residents who had to use public transit.[49] During the strike, the agency initially provided only those routes on the contingency map for a reduced number of hours but added others as resources became available. The Sunset Advisory Commission released its report on Capital Metro in April 2010.

Capital Metro also contracts with two other service providers for bus operations, First Transit, Veolia Transport and the Capital Area Rural Transportation System. First Transit provides shuttle service for University of Texas students, faculty and staff.[12]

North Lamar Transit Center

Budget[edit]

2010 Actual Budget[50]
Operating Revenues $28.04 M
Passenger Fares $9 M
Contract Fares $6.76 M
MetroRail $495 K
Freight Rail $11.77 M
Operating Expenses $164.70 M
Non-Operating Revenues $178.23 M
Build Central Texas Program $3.7 M
Change in Net Assets $9.36 M

Future expansion[edit]

Plans have been circulating since a failed light rail vote in 2000 about urban rail in Austin. A vote on urban rail, on either light rail or a streetcar system, was initially planned to be put to the voters as early as 2012.[51] However, current timelines are projecting a bond election to be presented to voters in November 2014.

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Riding Capital Metro - Capital Metro Transit - Austin, Texas". Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Austin, Texas. Retrieved 2011-06-23. 
  2. ^ "Linda Watson, President/CEO". Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved January 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Dunbar, Wells (31 January 2014). "Is Capital Metro's New MetroRapid Service Leaving Bus Riders Behind?". kut.org. KUT News. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
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