7 11, 2016

Connections 2025: Update on Route 19 at Bull Creek

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We’ve received many comments on the Route 19 proposal along Bull Creek because of the potential gap in service. The route was eliminated in the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan due to low ridership. However, in response to community feedback, our team has worked on some possible changes in the Bull Creek area, these were proposed today at our board of directors Connections 2025 Work Session.

What’s the proposal? Service would be available along the new proposed Route 345, offering frequent service on 45th St. between Burnet Rd. and Hancock Center. Additionally, MetroRapid Routes 801 and 803 operate north/south along Guadalupe and Lamar, running every 15 minutes or better.

Will the proposal change? After receiving neighborhood feedback, the team revisited the original proposal and identified some riders that would be outside of the standard ½ mile walk distance. To accommodate, our team looked at extending Route 345 west to Bull Creek. However, we found the change alone would not be efficient due to low ridership. There are currently 1.8 boardings per hour along that segment—our system average is 26.

That area, however, is the potential site for The Grove future development. Because of that, we are proposing to add an extension to The Grove (if approved by city council), pending the development can accommodate an access point for a bus turnaround.

What’s next? Connections 2025 is still a draft plan at this time that continues changing based on feedback. Our team is carefully reviewing each and every response we receive as we work on finalizing this plan. We continue taking feedback at Feedback@connections2025.org as the Draft Transit Plan has not been finalized. We anticipate our board of directors to vote on Final Transit Plan in December.

Visit Connections2025.org to see the updated Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan interactive map revised today.

 

 


Tagged: Connections 2025
7 11, 2016

Connections 2025: Update on Route 663

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Capital Metro has been taking community feedback on the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan since late August. We’ve heard from thousands of Central Texans across our region. Now, we’re beginning to make adjustments to the proposal based on your feedback. Today, staff presented potential changes to the Capital Metro board of directors.

We’ve heard from many UT students about the proposal to replace Route 663 with other routes. Over the past two months, we’ve talked with students online, by email and on campus at the UT Shuttle Bus Committee and Student Government. We even wrote a blog post to give you more information on our proposal. Our Planning Team has been working hard to understand the UT community’s concerns while also staying mindful of best practices and transit design principles.

Before you read on, it’s important to remember that any changes to Route 663 will not happen immediately. The only change our board of directors has approved is for Express route service on MoPac, beginning in early 2017. Once Capital Metro is ready to make changes to Route 663 service, we would go through a new round of community meetings before implementation, this could be later in 2017, or beyond.

We’ve now adjusted our proposal to reinstate Route 663:

Original Proposal

  • Route 663 replaced by Routes 18, MetroRapid 804
  • More frequency to the Lake Austin student housing area with later operating hours
  • Expanded weekend service
  • Route 18 would offer service from Brackenridge Apartments, directly to UT, every 15 minutes
  • MetroRapid 804 would offer service between Brackenridge Apartments and downtown
    • Students could transfer to UT in downtown
    • 24/7 service, running every 10 minutes during peak hours

Revised Proposal

  • Maintain Route 663 as regular, Local Capital Metro route
    • Running every 15 minutes during peak times
    • Running every 30 minutes during off peak weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • All-week, 7-day service
  • Route 18 would still offer direct service to UT, every 15 minutes
  • MetroRapid Route 804 would no longer run to Brackenridge Apartments, stopping east of MoPact near the Gateway Apartments

What’s next? We’re still working away on the Draft Transit Plan so stay tuned for more updates. Visit Connections2025.org to see the updated Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan interactive map revised today.

We continue taking feedback at Feedback@connections2025.org as the Draft Transit Plan has not been finalized. We anticipate our board of directors to vote on Final Transit Plan in December.


Tagged: Connections 2025
7 11, 2016

Revisiting the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan

backgroun1.PNGThis week, we’re posting updates on Capital Metro routes that we’re revisiting based on community feedback.

Before we dive into that, let’s get a refresher on this year-long process. In early 2016, we hosted a series of open houses designed to gauge our community’s priorities for Connections 2025. We heard you ask for more frequency, reliability and connections. In May, we hosted another round of open houses to talk about the tradeoffs between frequency and coverage. We took that feedback into consideration when designing the Draft Transit Plan that prioritizes frequency while maintaining 98% of current service coverage.  

What’s proposed in the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan? Increasing the number of frequent routes (running every 15 minutes or less) from 6 to 17—expanding accessible frequent transit service available within a 10-minute walk to 200,000 more people across our service area. Read about some of the other benefits.

In the planning process, we’ve reviewed service based on national best practices in transit system design, including: ridership, land use, employment and residential density, etc. However, in order to achieve the system-wide frequency upgrades within our existing budget, we have make some tough decisions that include consolidating, and in some cases, eliminating service. 

The Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan has been out for our community to review since late August. Over the past two months, we’ve talked with:

  • Nearly 2,000 people at open houses and neighborhood events
  • Over 1,300 people at pop-up outreach events and major bus stops
  • More than 21,000 viewed the Draft Transit Plan online
  • Over 1,500 people responded to the online survey

Where are we now? Today, staff presented potential changes to the Capital Metro board of directors. Check out our blog posts coming up that will include more details on these routes that the Connections 2025 team has revisited:

Check Out the Updated Map

Visit Connections2025.org to see the updated Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan interactive map revised today. We continue taking feedback at Feedback@connections2025.org as the Draft Transit Plan has not been finalized. We anticipate our board of directors to vote on Final Transit Plan in December.


Tagged: Connections 2025
7 11, 2016

Connections 2025: Update on Route 315/333

blog-333Southwest Austin users of Route 333 have provided lots of feedback to the Connections 2025 team on our proposed elimination of service on Eskew Dr and Convict Hill Rd out to ACC Pinnacle. Because of this feedback, our team has taken a second look at the service changes proposed in the area.

As a reminder, during February, March and May of this year, we held public outreach all over the community and online and received thousands of responses about the types of changes they would like to see made to the transit system. More frequent service was by far the number one request we heard.  Knowing that more frequent service is more expensive to operate, and given the realities of our budget, we have to make some difficult decisions: we can provide more frequent service on major corridors and ask people to travel further to access it, or we can provide more service to more places (called “coverage” service) but with less frequency.

Proposed changes to routes in the Southwest Austin area are examples of these sorts of difficult tradeoffs.

About the tradeoffs: A reality of the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan is that some people will need to change the way that they make their normal trips – which may now involve a transfer or a walk – but what you’re getting in return is a significant bump in frequent service across our service area (increasing from 6 to 17 routes) that positively benefits the community at large, overall.

What’s the proposal? The original proposal would eliminate Route 333 service west of Brodie.  Instead, Route 333 would serve the Walmart at MoPac, then operate on Brodie Ln to William Cannon, and across William Cannon to the neighborhoods east of I-35 with 15-minute frequency 7-days per week.  This change was proposed due to low ridership in the Convict Hill and Eskew areas, and to take advantage of stronger demand east of Brodie where the density is more supportive of transit.  On an average weekday, there are 2.9 boardings/hour on Convict Hill and 3.4 boardings /hour at Eskew – our system average is 26 boardings /hour.  Another metric we use for performance is subsidy per passenger boarding, our system average is $4.23. In the segment at Convict Hill, the subsidy per boarding is $20.28, Eskew – $17.35 and William Cannon – $4.89. Under the original proposal, service to ACC Pinnacle would still be available via Route 315 on Ben White.

Will the proposal change? After receiving neighborhood feedback, the team revisited the original proposal. After reexamining land uses, ridership, and subsidy-per-boarding, we presented to alternatives to our original proposal to the Capital Metro board of directors:

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Potential Alternative A

  • Frequent service on Route 333 east of Arbor Trails
  • Every other weekday trip to ACC Pinnacle

Potential Alternative B

  • Create weekday on-call zone to serve gap in service anchored at ACC Pinnacle and/or the H-E-B at Brodie/William Cannon

What’s next? Connections 2025 is still a draft plan at this time that continues changing based on feedback. Our team is carefully reviewing each and every response we receive as we work on finalizing this plan. The Capital Metro board will further evaluate the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan and will decide on a course to move forward with.

We continue taking feedback at Feedback@connections2025.org as the Draft Transit Plan has not been finalized. We anticipate our board of directors to vote on Final Transit Plan in December.

Visit Connections2025.org to see the updated Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan interactive map revised today.

 


Tagged: Connections 2025
24 10, 2016

Capital Metro to Lower MetroRapid, Flyer Fares in January

The Capital Metro board of directors voted unanimously today to eliminate the Premium category of the agency’s fare structure, which will take effect Jan. 8, 2017. Currently, the Premium fare includes two MetroRapid routes and nine Flyer routes, all of which feature fewer stops compared to Local service.

With this change, all Local, MetroRapid and Flyer service will cost $1.25 for a Single Ride, $2.50 for a Day Pass, $11.25 for a 7-Day Pass and $41.25 for a 31-Day Pass.

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The fare reduction will be the first service initiative implemented as part of Connections 2025, a year-long comprehensive planning study that involved a top-to-bottom review of the agency’s entire bus system. The goal of the fare reduction is to enhance connectivity within the bus network to make it easier for customers to move around the system.

The Capital Metro board will vote in December on the remaining initiatives included in the Connections 2025 draft transit plan. Key elements of the plan involve increasing the number of high-frequency routes from six to 17, doubling the number of MetroRapid routes and creating more east-to-west service. The goal of the plan is to create a blueprint for a simplified and stronger bus network by offering more frequency, reliability and connections.

For more information about the fare reduction, visit capmetro.org/farechange. Additional details about Connections 2025, including an online interactive map and video, can be found at connections2025.org.

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Tagged: Connections 2025
28 09, 2016

Connections 2025 – September Update

A big thanks to those who have commented on the Connections 2025 Draft Transit Plan so far. The draft plan, which proposes a new transit network to address the region’s growth, is based on what we heard in community meetings earlier this year: a desire for more frequency, more reliability and more connections.

Now, we are busy reviewing more than 1,000 comments received this month through Connections 2025 open houses, webinars, an online community survey, bus stop outreach and community events.

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There’s still time to comment – survey deadline extended to Oct. 15!

The Connections 2025 community survey will now stay open an extra two weeks, through October 15. If you haven’t completed the survey yet, please give us your thoughts. It’s just five questions and takes only a few minutes to complete! Your feedback will help develop our road map for the future.

Because we want to do you justice in reviewing all the comments we’re received, we are adjusting our overall timeline. Instead of presenting the Connections 2025 plan for board approval in November, we are going to take October and November to finalize the plan, presenting the Final Draft Plan to the Capital Metro board in December.

Go online to learn all about the Connections 2025 Draft Plan.

What have we heard so far?

We’ve received comments on a wide range of issues including:

  • Service to downtown and UT
  • The straightening of routes
  • Further increasing the number of east-west routes
  • More MetroRapid routes
  • Public transit needs in outlying areas
  • More late-night and Sunday service
  • Service to entertainment districts
  • Higher frequency and shorter routes
  • Fares
  • Transportation needs for the elderly
  • Park & Ride locations
  • Specific comments on individual routes

In addition, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback! Almost half of the survey responses support additional frequent service. Check out some more details below:

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How to Learn More

Check out the Connections 2025 blog posts!  Earlier this month, we did a week-long series of blog posts covering five key issues about the plan:

  • Day 1 – How to share your feedback?
  • Day 2 – What about frequent routes?
  • Day 3 – What will the proposed Connections 2025 transit network accomplish?
  • Day 4 – Why can’t we have more routes, all with more frequency?
  • Day 5 – What about MetroRail?

Have ideas or questions? Email Feedback@Connections2025.org, tweet #Connections2025 or call 512-369-6000.


Tagged: Connections 2025
13 09, 2016

Connections 2025: Rapid Proposed for UT Married Student Housing

663-mapWe’ve recently received several questions from University of Texas at Austin students concerning possible changes to current UT Shuttle routes. We’d like to clarify the issue a bit and offer some answers to these questions.

First, how did proposed changes come about?

Capital Metro regularly takes the pulse of the system, adjusting service to better meet the needs of our riders. We’ve recently been hard at work updating bus service through a major planning study called Connections 2025. Through this process, we’re seeking to create a more frequent, connected and reliable network so that people have even more access and transit choices to get around. You can learn more about the Connections 2025 transit network draft plan from the Connections 2025 website or by watching this video.

The process:

The resulting transit network draft plan, developed using public feedback collected throughout the year, includes recommendations that would result in an effective, easy-to-use transit system — one that would be able to grow as the region grows. The draft plan, if adopted, would serve as a guiding framework, one that will help the agency develop more detailed service plans and the corresponding budgets to bring service improvements to fruition.

Our current goal is to take all of the feedback we receive and refine the plan before seeking the approval of our board in November. It is important to note that once the plan is approved, changes wouldn’t happen immediately but would occur, instead, in phases. Some of the proposed changes might come relatively soon, while others would be contingent on previous changes being implemented first, such as infrastructure improvements like sidewalks and/or available funding. In addition, Capital Metro will need the approval of the UT Shuttle Bus Committee before making changes to UT Shuttle service. Exact dates for when specific changes would occur have not yet been determined. Our goal is to begin to set priorities based on what we hear from the public.

Now, to your questions …

Almost all of the questions we’ve received from students so far concern “removing” routes 18, 21, 22 and 663 from servicing the married student housing on Lake Austin Blvd., and seemingly doing away with this direct connection to the UT campus. The comments we’ve received suggest that one route with 30-minute frequencies is not enough to serve the complex, and that students will completely fill the bus, while others won’t have reliable service to and from campus.

Here’s some news that should be a relief to those student residents:

The draft transit plan actually proposes more frequent, later-running and expanded weekend service in the area around the Colorado Apartments. A proposed east-west MetroRapid route, the 804, would operate from Brackenridge Apartments and serve the Colorado Apartments. This new 24/7 route would operate every 10 minutes during the morning and evening peak hours. Taking Route 804 would require students going to UT to transfer at Republic Square, but with three other MetroRapid routes serving that station, all going to UT, it should be a very quick transfer, adding just 3 minutes to a student’s travel time. Students wanting a direct trip to UT could still ride Route 18, which is proposed to operate every 15 minutes instead of every 30 minutes. It is true that Capital Metro has proposed to retire Routes 21 and 22; the segment along Exposition has low ridership and so Capital Metro hopes to reinvest those resources into the more frequent service. The community feedback we gained during the Connections 2025 process revealed that the public wants Capital Metro to focus on frequency.

We want to hear from you!

Though the draft plan was released last month, we are still taking public feedback and want to hear from UT students. There are several ways to help the agency shape the transit plan: participate in one of several open houses this week, take the online survey, email your ideas and suggestions to feedback@connections2025.org, call 512-369-6000 or post them on Facebook and Twitter.

In 2017, we will again reach out to the public through a series of service change-related engagements to discuss the ideas we’ve collected, concentrating on those that can potentially be implemented during the first year of the plan. Each service change phase will involve additional rounds of focused and detailed outreach efforts before changes are implemented, so there will be plenty of time to discuss and define each phase of the plan.

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Tagged: Connections 2025
10 09, 2016

Connections 2025: What about MetroRail?

This is the 5th blog post in our week-long series about Connections 2025. We’ve heard your burning questions and have answers to your top questions.  

Day 5 – Question: What about MetroRail?

The Connections 2025 vision for MetroRail is to serve as one of two components in the “Rapid Transit” category of service (the other being I-35 BRT service in dedicated express lanes). “Rapid Transit” routes provide frequent, high-capacity transit with limited-stop regional transit service that also serves as an integral part of the all-day, all-week core network. These types of services operate on dedicated right-of-way and can provide guaranteed, congestion-proof travel times to, from and between destinations throughout the Capital Metro service area.

Today, MetroRail works well as a commuter rail service, operating more productive trips during morning and afternoon peak travel times, corresponding with typical 9-5 working hours. Ridership drops off significantly during the midday as train service frequency decreases to every hour. 

Connections 2025 proposes turning the Red Line into an all-day, all-week workhorse in the frequent service network. This means trains coming every 15 minutes or better most of the day and into the night. A number of capital improvements are in the works currently, including the development of the new Downtown Station, the acquisition of 4 brand new, clean Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains, and the installation of strategic double tracking along the rail corridor to allow trains to pass each other in more locations. Once headway is made on some of these capital infrastructure investments, train riders can expect to see more frequent MetroRail service in 2018.

What do you think about the proposed MetroRail improvements? We encourage you to visit connections2025.org to share your thoughts on the proposed plan.

For more information, visit Connections2025.org or call 512-369-6000.

 


Tagged: connections2025
9 09, 2016

Connections 2025: Frequency or coverage?

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This is the fourth blog post in our week-long series about Connections 2025. We’ve heard your burning questions and have answers to your top questions.  

Day 4 – Question: Why can’t we have more routes, all with more frequency?

Remember that old saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”? Well, we think that phrase stinks. We love cake!

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.  (We know. Boo.)  We can’t provide every type of service under the sun at the same time – it’s just not possible.  Life (and transit planning) involves trade-offs and in the case of our service one of the more common trade-offs is frequency vs. coverage. Since Capital Metro doesn’t have unlimited funding, we can only provide limited amounts of either option. 

  • Frequency – buses running on major corridors every 10-15 minutes, riders may have to walk further to a bus stop, OR
  • Coverage – buses running on many streets, with short walks to the bus stop, but typically operating every 30-60 minutes.

How did Capital Metro decide what to do?

When Capital Metro was gathering public input earlier this spring, we heard frequency was most important priority to the public, followed by coverage. We faced a bit of dilemma, since we can’t provide both. So, we went back out to our community in May and asked again, but more specifically about these tradeoffs: frequency vs. coverage.  Again the public responded they wanted frequency. You can view the results at Connections2025.org

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Then what?

Capital Metro worked with our planning consultant to design a frequency-first focused network, increasing the number of frequent routes from 6 to 17.  At the same time, we still worked hard to maximize coverage. As a result, in the Connections 2025 Draft Plan Capital Metro is proposing a revised network where 99.5% of our existing customers would be within a 10-minute walk of the new network.

Want to learn more about the frequency / coverage tradeoff in 90 seconds?  Here is cool video Edmonton Transit created when they were conducting a similar study.

 

 


Tagged: Connections 2025
8 09, 2016

Frequency. Frequency. Frequency.

Blog week banner_skinny

This is the third blog post in our week-long series about Connections 2025. We’ve heard your burning questions and have answers to your top questions.  

Day 3 – Question: What will the proposed Connections 2025 transit network accomplish?
ExistingProposed Map 1Frequency. Frequency. Frequency.

Frequency is the proven recipe for successful transit service in the U.S. and abroad. Our neighbors to the east, Houston, changed their system to focus on frequency a little over a year ago. We’ve seen their ridership up by 7% since they altered their system.

More importantly, we overwhelmingly heard requests for more frequency during our community public outreach in Feb./March and May 2016.

We responded! The proposed Connections 2025 network would put a whole lot more people within a 10-minute walk of bus or train service running every 15-minutes or better.

Why does frequency matter?

Frequency is popular because it provides freedom. With buses arriving every 10 – 15 minutes, riders can travel more spontaneously without consulting a schedule. Frequency combined with real-time arrival information makes transit easier and more attractive. Studies have shown that frequency is the most important factor when someone decides to try transit for the first time.

How much frequency are we talkin?

  • Proposed increase from 6 to 17 frequent routes.
  • 82% of Capital Metro’s existing customers would have access to frequent service compared to 50% today.
  • Over a half-million people would be within a short walk to frequent service (a quarter of the region’s population).

Frequency=More Reliable

More frequency means less waiting time at your bus stop AND easier transfers between routes. That translates into more reliable service you can depend on for every day trips.

To help achieve more reliable service,  Capital Metro would also use “transit priority treatments” to speed up the buses. This means, relocated/redesigned bus stops, transit signals where buses receive a green light before cars, or more transit priority lanes (such as the ones along Guadalupe and Lavaca in downtown Austin).

Along with transit priority treatments, Capital Metro staff would work to improve the on-street management of the buses.  That’s something we are working on today!

What about east/west?Capture3.1

Not only is the new network designed to be more frequent, it is more connected. We also heard during public outreach in early & mid 2016 a desire for more east-west routes. We’re proposing new east-west service along Slaughter, Cesar Chavez, 35th/38th Street, 45th, Loyola, Koenig and Anderson Lane, to name a few.  This will allow people easier access to their destinations without having to travel downtown to transfer routes.

What do you think? Give us your feedback today!

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Tagged: Connections 2025
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