7 09, 2016

Connections 2025: Frequent Route Network 2.0

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

Day 2 – Question: What about frequent routes?

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As it stands today, Capital Metro’s “High Frequency Route Network” is comprised of six routes – two MetroRapid and four MetroBus – that run every 15 minutes or less. These routes come within a half mile of 330K people and serve 50% of Capital Metro’s existing customers. Connections 2025 proposes a “frequency-first” approach with three times the number of today’s frequent routes!

frequency-networkImplementation of Capital Metro’s first High Frequent Routes remains one of the most successful recommendations from our last service plan update (ServicePlan 2020). In June of 2015, Capital Metro boosted the all-day, all-week frequency of a number of routes based on their ridership, productivity and coverage. On average, for each hour of service invested in improving the frequency of those routes, ridership increased by approximately 15 riders/hour.

The new draft Connections 2025 service plan recommends expanding the amount of frequent routes in the system from 6 to 17! This would mean that a route coming every 15 minutes or less would travel within a half mile walk of 550K people (that’s an increase of over 200K) and serve 82% of Capital Metro’s existing customers, a significant increase in both categories. The proposed expansion of the frequent route network is a result of both public feedback and national best practices in transit system design.

Currently, frequent transit service in Austin has been limited to a select few corridors. The new plan will allow anyone with a transit pass to access an entire network of frequent services with fast, convenient and reliable mobility all across the Capital Metro service area.

Coupled with the Connections 2025 proposal to flatten Local and Premium fares into one tier, the plan would design a faster, easier boarding experience with simplified connections. The Connections 2025 Draft Network is designed to work as a cohesive network, simplified for riders.

Capture3.1How do you feel about an expansion of the Capital Metro High Frequency Route Network?

Please visit Connections2025.org to share your thoughts on the proposed plan by viewing our interactive map and route-by-route proposals. The routes in red or blue on the map would make up the High Frequency Route Network (routes operating every 15 minutes or better).

For more information, visit Connections2025.org, call 512-369-6000 or email feedback@connections2025.org.

 


Tagged: Connections 2025
6 09, 2016

Help Us Shape the Future of Capital Metro

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

Day 1 – Question: How to I share my feedback?

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We’re proposing a face-lift for Capital Metro service through our plan, Connections 2025. For almost a year, we’ve been hosting open houses, chatting with riders at stops and even stopping by neighborhood associations, all so we can gather your feedback. We’re back at it again, beginning another series of open houses, starting today! 

Feedback

What have we heard so far?

Throughout the study, the number one comment we’ve gotten is to add more frequency, followed by reliability and coverage.

Where can I check out the plan?

Right now, we have the Draft Transit Plan available as an interactive map and you can view detailed route-by-route descriptions describing the proposed changes  at connections2025.org. Want to get a quick run-down? View our 2 minute video.

We need your feedback! 

At this point, the plan is still a proposal. We want to shape the future of Capital Metro’s service based on what our community needs, so each and every comment matters.

Go check out connections2025.org and fill out our online survey! You can also share your thoughts by emailing feedback@connections2025.org,  calling 512-369-6000 or on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to meet with the team and hear a presentation on the plan, visit our in-person open houses, Sept. 6-16, or virtually at webinars on Sept. 7 and 14.

Organizations are welcomed to request a briefing, please fill out our online form.

It doesn’t stop there, we’ll be dropping by bus stops, transit centers, community events and much more to spread the word.

Now is the time to have your voice heard, share your feedback today!

Feedback2

 


Tagged: Connections 2025, feedback
22 08, 2016

Connections 2025: A big, bold proposal for a more frequent, reliable and connected bus network

As Central Texas grows, so does its transit needs, and the expectations of Capital Metro’s riders. In an effort to address traffic congestion and public demand for more mobility choices, we’ve spent the past year looking at every aspect of our bus system to see where improvements could be made. The result: Connections 2025, an in-depth plan designed to act as a road map for supporting the region’s transportation needs over the next 10 years.

Earlier this year, we talked with thousands of people at open houses, community meetings and special events. We also did a survey that more than 5,000 of you took, telling us what kind of bus service was most important to you. We heard you loud and clear that – overwhelmingly – you want more frequency on key corridors. You also told us you wanted an easier experience, whether it be transferring from one service to another, or better choices for east-west travel.

The resulting Connections 2025 draft transit plan focuses on creating a fast, frequent, simplified and more connected bus system. At the core of the draft plan is an expanded frequent service network that would result in improved transit access for current riders, residents and employers in our service area. The proposal includes:

  • More frequent service for more riders: Service every 10-15 minutes within walking distance of over half a million people.
  • Nearly 3 times the number of routes in the High-Frequency Route Network: Increased from 6 to 17 routes.
  • Bus service closer to more people: 98.6 percent of existing riders would be within a quarter mile (a 5-minute walk), and 99.4 percent within a half mile (a 10-minute walk) of a bus stop.
  • More options for East-West travel: Expanded route options and greater frequency in both directions.
  • Just two fare levels: Yes, Premium fare would be eliminated. Local fare would then apply to Local (MetroBus) and Premium (MetroRapid and Flyer Routes 100-199) services. (Commuter fare would still apply to MetroRail, & MetroExpress Routes 900-990.)
  • Easier travel between work and home: More direct routes between concentrated areas of housing and employment.

But we’re not done! From Sept. 6-16, we’ll be conducting more open houses, and gaining input from online comments, social media, phone calls and email. We’ll also be where our riders are, like bus stops, neighborhood meetings and special event around town.

Want to see how the proposed network would work for you? Check out this interactive map. There’s also a short video that gives a quick overview of the major elements.

We still need your feedback about our proposed new direction – so let us know what you think!

The January 2017 proposal would go before the Capital Metro board of directors at a public hearing on Sept. 7, and will be voted on Sept. 26. If approved, the changes would take effect Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. The complete plan will be voted on by the Capital Metro board of directors in November.

ExistingProposed Map 1

Map 2Capital Metro_Draft Transit Network


Tagged: Connections 2025
27 07, 2016

Connections 2025 – July Update

It’s almost here – a draft transit plan!

What we’ve heard

We have been busy reviewing the system and listening to you, our community, about how to improve Capital Metro. The Transit Priorities Survey we hosted on Connections2025.org from May 25 through June 24, received more than 500 responses. In it, you let us know your priorities given the reality of limited funding.

So what did we hear?  87% voted for improving frequency (more service, more often on key corridors) over wider coverage within Capital Metro’s service area (service to more destinations, less often). This information, combined with the input we’ve received from riders and community members throughout this process, helps guide us as we draft our new transit network. Open houses will continue in September. Thanks for taking the time to shape the future of transit in Central Texas. Visit Connections2025.org to view the full survey results!

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Where are we now?

Building on input from you, key stakeholders and Capital Metro leadership, we have developed these overarching goals:

  • Match service to markets – providing the right type of transit service for each land use type and customer base
  • Enhance the customer experience so transit is convenient and comfortable
  • Build ridership
  • Ensure financial sustainability so services are available in the long run

For more information, check out our Plan Goals and Strategies Info Sheet. These strategies provide an overview of how the Draft Transit Plan is being developed, and what Connections 2025 aims to achieve. The Connections 2025 team discussed the plan’s guiding principles with Capital Metro’s Board of Directors at their June 27 meeting.

The complete Draft Transit Plan, including route-by-route changes, will be available online August 22.  Keep an eye out for our August newsletter for more details – there will still be many opportunities for comment after the draft plan is released.

Get involved

Following the draft plan release in August, we will need your input! We will host open houses September 6-9 and 12-15 to discuss the Draft Transit Plan, plus, the first phase of Connections 2025 service changes that would start in January 2017.

Visit Connections2025.org to view meeting dates and times. The input we receive at these open houses and online will help shape the Connections 2025 Final Transit Plan.

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

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Tagged: Connections 2025
20 06, 2016

Connections 2025 – Survey Open til Friday!

It’s an exciting time for Connections 2025 – we’re moving forward from data gathering and analysis to developing preliminary recommendations for service changes. First, we are looking at developing overall goals and strategies for service planning before we get down to the route-by-route details.

Capital Metro’s Board of Directors recently discussed some key issues for Connections 2025. Click here to view the meeting conversation.

Transit Priorities Survey

Help us shape the direction of Connections 2025! We’ve posted a new, brief survey and are looking for input from all Central Texans – riders and non-riders. The survey includes four questions to gauge opinions on some of the tradeoffs involved in a project like Connections 2025. With a limited amount of funding available for transit service, Capital Metro needs to make choices on how to balance competing priorities – for example, is it more important to improve frequency, or provide more coverage within Capital Metro’s service area? See below for examples.

Visit Connections2025.org to complete the survey!

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Where are we now?

Over the past few months we’ve been gathering input from local citizens, analyzing key market characteristics, and reviewing ridership patterns and performance of Capital Metro services. Now we’re distilling those key findings into a series of goals, strategies and action items for Connections 2025.

Why is this important?

Connections 2025 is not just a plan to tweak and tune transit routes – it will also include overall goals and strategies to explain why those changes are proposed. These guiding strategies will help us work with other transportation plans in the region, such as Project Connect and the city of Austin’s Strategic Mobility Plan.

We’ve heard a lot about topics like bus frequency, reliability, speed and coverage from our riders and non-riders, and these will play an important part in the plan. Take the survey to provide your input on important transit issues.

Stay tuned for our July e-newsletter where we’ll provide more details on where Connections 2025 is heading – and how you can stay involved!

Public Involvement

We recently wrapped up a series of public meetings in May, which included overviews of our findings to date. If you weren’t able to attend, the materials are available to view on Connections2025.org under the “Resources” page.

The next round of public meetings are planned for this fall, but in the meantime, check the project website often for updates on how the plan is progressing!

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


17 05, 2016

Connections 2025 – Service Analysis Findings

The Connections 2025 data analysis phase is drawing to a close. We’re wrapping up both the Market and Service Analysis and will use those findings to develop preliminary recommendations. Open houses are planned this week, come by to check out our progress and share your thoughts, meeting details below.

Where are we now?

The Connections 2025 team is currently finalizing the Service Analysis, which provides an in-depth review of Capital Metro ridership, operations, and productivity/financial performance.

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Why is it important? The Service Analysis shows where the Capital Metro system is the strongest (in terms of ridership, on-time performance, etc.) and where service requires improvement. This data will be combined with results from the Market Analysis and stakeholder input to develop recommendations for improvement.

General findings:

  1. Routes that run more frequently are more productive, having more riders per hour of service.
  2. Over 35 percent of total Capital Metro daily ridership occurs on the top five bus corridors (Routes 1/801, 3/803, 7, 300 and 10). Improvements on these corridors alone would benefit well over one third of current Capital Metro riders.
  3. Since 2000, costs to provide service have increased while ridership has slightly decreased.
  4. MetroRapid routes are consistently faster than Local buses.

Missed our last blogs?

Survey Results 

The Connections 2025 online community survey closed on March 13, 2016; we received nearly 5,000 responses! Top priorities included more frequency, better access to transit and faster service. With folks telling us they want more frequency and service coverage expanded throughout the area, our challenge is to weigh both which are generally incompatible, to find the best solution.

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Curious to see how fellow Central Texans responded to the other survey questions? Check out a full survey summary on Connections2025.com.

Open Houses – Starting Today

We’ll present results from our analysis and some high-level recommendations for the Connections 2025 plan. We’re eager to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, May 17

University Hills Branch Library

4721 Loyola Ln, Austin, TX 78723
5 – 6:30 p.m.
Served by Routes 20, 37, 237, 323

Wednesday, May 18

Republic Square

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Served by downtown routes, MetroRapid 801 & 803, MetroRail

Wednesday, May 18

Pleasant Hill Branch Library
211 E. William Cannon Dr, Austin, TX 78745
5 – 6:30 p.m.
Served by Route 1, 201, 333, MetroRapid 801

Thursday, May 19

Capital Metro Headquarters

2910 E. 5th St, Austin, TX 78702
5 – 6 p.m.
Served by Routes 4, 17, 122, 300, 320

Look out for more in-depth reports coming soon on our Resources page online. Visit Connections2025.org for information on upcoming meetings. See you there!


Tagged: Connections 2025
5 05, 2016

Market Watch: Results of the Connections 2025 Market Analysis

MA4We are nearly halfway through Connections 2025, Capital Metro’s transit plan for the future. We sat down for a conversation with Russ Chisholm, lead project manager from TMD for Connections 2025.

Q: Where is Capital Metro in the Connections 2025 process?

A: We are rolling ahead at full speed. One major milestone was finalizing the Market Analysis, allowing us to better understand the current mobility needs of Central Texas. We all know there are mobility challenges, but we needed to pinpoint the root of those challenges and identify the potential future opportunities. You can find the results of our market analysis here. 

As part of that analysis, we evaluated population, employment centers and demographics; current and potential land use and development; and the mobility needs of the entire region. What we found is probably no secret – but the projections show Central Texas (Travis County) will increase by 80 percent between 2015 and 2040! In our analysis, we dive into different market segments to help understand the needs across many slices of the population pie. Next, we will identify the system changes that are needed to accommodate that HUGE growth.

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Q: What impact do land use decisions have on our transportation system?

A: Land use decisions always have a direct impact on how we plan for a transportation system. Like many other American regions, Central Texas has a mix of high-density urban pockets and low-density rural areas. Transit is more successful in areas of high density and challenging in rural areas. Our challenge is creating an integrated network of streets, bike paths and sidewalks that are efficient and understandable—and incorporating them with transit. Planning for future developments by linking transit and land use is extremely important as the region prepares for huge population increases.

Q: We all know we have mobility challenges, but what specifically did you find to be our biggest challenges?

A: We have identified four key market challenges currently facing Capital Metro:

1.      Low gas prices

2.      Historic automobile-centric development patterns

3.      Housing affordability within the central city

4.      Emerging employment centers outside of the coreMA 20

Q: What are the greatest opportunities for Capital Metro?

A: We have identified four market opportunities: livable communities (transit-bike-walk areas), work commuting, transit-dependent residents and senior mobility. 

We will be assessing each of these in more detail and seeking community input as we develop recommendations for the service plan.

Q: Tell us about what to expect over the course of this year?

A: We have done a thorough examination of ridership patterns, evaluated how service is delivered and how it performs, and performed this market evaluation. Public involvement events will be held in September. We will then use these findings to help shape the development of a five-year and long-range service plan. The target adoption date for the final Transit Plan is the end of this year.New Timeline

 

 


Tagged: Connections 2025
18 04, 2016

Connections 2025 – Market Analysis

The Connections 2025 team is currently finalizing the Market Analysis, which will provide a picture of our region and the current “market” for transit service.

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Why does it matter?

Many things affect how people use transit in Central Texas including population and employment densities, land use and urban design, demographics, and travel patterns. The region is changing quickly, so we’re looking at projected future conditions and planned developments as well as what’s happening today.

General findings:

  • Population growth in Central Texas, along with concentrated areas of development, can lead to increased transit ridership
  • Certain key market segments that are more likely to use transit (ex: seniors and college students) are projected to increase in the coming years
  • Lower-density suburban areas with separated land uses (not mixed-use) are challenging to serve with traditional transit services
  • As housing costs rise in Austin causing people to relocate to surrounding areas, housing is becoming more disconnected from jobs

April

Keep in mind, these are overarching themes from the analysis. Want to sink your teeth into more details? Check out the full report, available soon at Connections2025.org.

Upcoming Open Houses: May 17-19

This May, we’ll discuss these findings and high-level recommendations for the plan. Join us:

Tuesday, May 17
University Hills Branch Library
4721 Loyola Ln, Austin, TX 78723
5 – 6:30 p.m.
Served by Routes 20, 37, 237, 323

Wednesday, May 18
Republic Square
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Served by downtown routes, MetroRapid 801 & 803, MetroRail

Wednesday, May 18

Pleasant Hill Branch Library
211 E. William Cannon Dr, Austin, TX 78745
5 – 6:30 p.m.
Served by Route 1, 201, 333, MetroRapid 801

Thursday, May 19
Capital Metro Headquarters
2910 E. 5th St, Austin, TX 78702
5 – 6 p.m.
Served by Routes 4, 17, 122, 300, 320

What’s Next?

In the coming weeks the team will be diving into the Service Analysis, which will examine current system ridership patterns, how service is delivered and how it is performing. Stay tuned for key findings in the May newsletter!

April2 april3

March Wrap-Up

Through our online survey we gathered nearly 5,000 responses from over 100 zip codes across Central Texas. We’re currently tabulating the results and will post a summary on the website soon. Over 300 people have attended open houses, neighborhood association meetings and webinars. We’ve also engaged over 1,100 people at “pop-up” events around the region. Combined, our team has engaged nearly 1,500 Central Texans in-person so far, view the summary report at Connections2025.org.

While we’ve received a diverse array of comments from riders and non-riders, we have heard some recurring themes including improving: frequency, access to transit service and connections to origins and destinations.

Questions or comments? Contact us!

email: feedback@connections2025.org

phone: 512-369-6000


Tagged: Connections 2025
7 03, 2016

Connections 2025 FAQ: What about rail?

Cquestionmarkapital Metro’s service plan, Connections 2025, is off and running! Along with our consultant team, we are studying all aspects of our service area and transit routes, gathering valuable input from the community. In February, we hosted many open houses and one of the top questions we were asked was, “What about rail?”

Projects like Connections 2025 are known in the transit industry as “Comprehensive Operational Analyses,” or COAs. Most major transit agencies take on COAs about every five or ten years. COAs provide detailed, “ready-to-go” recommendations which are fully funded for quick implementation within one to five years. As such, they typically focus on bus networks, which can be adjusted and improved faster and at a lower cost than more significant infrastructure projects like rail. That is not to say rail is not considered a long-term option, it is simply more complex, expensive and takes more time to make operational. We’ll explain more below.

At the conclusion of our Connections 2025 study, we fully anticipate having real, tangible changes rolling out in 2017. Think of this plan as being focused on improving and reinventing existing service. We are looking at identifying new routes and services based on our system-wide evaluation.

That’s not to say that Connections 2025 won’t consider big ideas or look at the possibility of new infrastructure, but the majority of the plan will be designed for implementation within the next ten years, with real projects that can be implemented under five years, given tools and funding that are already available to Capital Metro.

COA recommendations that are “ready-to-go” differ from other larger-scale, longer-term plans for our region which may depend on yet-unidentified funding sources. Major investments like new rail corridors require longer timeframes for environmental review (NEPA) and construction, as well as considerable up-front and continued costs.

PCWith that said, we’d like to introduce Project Connect Central Corridor. This project is intended to create a road map for the planning and implementation of high-capacity transit improvements, which could include rail.  In general, efforts will consist of defining modes, services and facility improvements in support of mobility, connectivity, economic development, livability and sustainability for downtown Austin, and also potential funding sources. Read more about that study in our previous blog post.

We’ll coordinate our efforts to make sure the Connections 2025 recommendations are compatible with Project Connect and other transportation plans.

If you haven’t taken the Connections 2025 online survey yet, you still have a chance–closing March 13! (¡En español!)

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


Tagged: Connections 2025
4 03, 2016

Houston, We Have a (Traffic) Problem…And Solution

Houston Map 2The mission of Capital Metro’s Connections 2025 effort is to create a new service plan for our agency while moving transit forward in our region. Part of this process includes looking to other cities for best practices, lessons learned and potential pitfalls so we can fold appropriate nuances into our planning. Because, let’s be honest, nobody wants to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch.

In that spirit, we recently invited Houston Metro’s Vice President of Planning, Kurt Luhrsen, to speak to our board of directors. Last year, Houston unveiled New Metro, its reimagined New Bus Network. The goals of their plan included realigning the network to a grid; creating as many frequent routes as possible; making routes easy to understand; operating service seven days a week; utilizing existing vehicles facilities and resources where possible; and keeping operating costs neutral.

The end product of their reimagined network: Houston added 1,000 new bus stops–connecting an estimated million people to a million jobs on their frequent network. The board ultimately elected to increase their operating budget by 3 percent, in order to maintain fixed-route service for some areas with low and declining ridership.

So far, it’s working.Houston Bus 2

A year-over-year comparison of each month since the unveiled plan shows an increase in ridership. Houston continues to tweak service based on feedback of over-crowded vehicles and like all good service plans, service is constantly being evaluated.

Luhrsen’s presentation emphasized the importance of public participation EARLY. Here’s where YOU come in! Our survey will remain live through March 6th, and we encourage you take the time to fill it out here. This will allow us to incorporate your feedback at the front end of our planning. Please help us understand how our service could better meet your transit needs.

Public participation is paramount. If we are to see a future in motion, our effort will require the public’s active involvement.


Tagged: Connections 2025
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