CONNECTIONS 2025: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Connections 2025 is a project to evaluate Capital Metro’s current transit system, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop a network for today and tomorrow.

The plan is designed to address growth and development over the past five years as well as declining ridership through an in-depth review of the transit system. We will assess existing/projected conditions while developing short (1 – 5 year) and longer (5 – 10 year) range recommendations to create a more efficient, effective transit system with a clear direction for future development.

Connections 2025 is our 10-year service plan and will guide the decisions we make over the short- and medium-term. The plan informed our thinking for what will be the most sweeping changes Capital Metro has ever made to its bus network. Those will go into effect in June 2018.

Although those changes grew out of the plan, Connections 2025 was just a planning document. The June 2018 bus network redesign puts those ideas into action.

The Connections 2025 strategic plan was adopted by the Capital Metro board of directors on Feb. 27. This study will serve as the roadmap for future service changes implemented over the next five years.

We’ll continue working with the community throughout each implementation phase. Each implementation phase will require a subsequent public hearing process to sufficiently notify the community of upcoming service changes and consider feedback. We will also assess Title VI impacts of the proposed service changes and submit them to the Capital Metro board for review and approval.

• Understand ways to better serve existing and potential riders
• Improve transit design and operation to increase ridership
• Build advocacy and ownership within the community
• Define transit’s role in regional mobility and economic development
Transportation Management & Design (TMD) worked with Capital Metro to utilize its findings from data collection, system evaluation and community feedback to formulate a five-year service plan and long-range plan.
Transportation Management & Design (TMD) is a consulting firm based in San Diego, CA that focuses on transit service planning. They have conducted over 100 similar studies. Their recommendations have resulted in ridership gains in cities large and small – L.A., San Francisco, Denver, Tampa, Buffalo, and Des Moines.
In 2010, we made a plan called Service Plan 2020 that resulted in some very real, major projects like MetroRapid, the first transit priority lanes in Austin, and a Frequent Route Network, just to name a few. These were all projects that we were able to roll out onto Austin’s streets in under five years. Connections 2025 is intended to work just like that.

Other successes from Service Plan 2020: eliminated poor performing routes (cost neutral), moved off Congress to Guadalupe/Lavaca, and extended/realigned routes.

Service plans like Connections 2025 are undertaken by most major transit agencies every 5-10 years. Service plans provide detailed, “ready to go” recommendations which are fully-funded for quick implementation (within 1-5 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 new rail projects are not considered a long-term option in service plans, however, rail is simply more complex, expensive and takes more time to implement.

While we focus our attention on our bus network in Connections 2025, Capital Metro is also starting another project called, Project Connect. Connections 2025 is one of the ways we’re improving mobility in Central Texas; other studies such as Project Connect will help Capital Metro build upon the existing network and establish a long-term vision for high-capacity transit in the region.

Connections 2025 includes recommendations to improve the transit network over a 5- and 10-year period. Some recommendations will be ready for implementation right after the study. Because Connections 2025 is designed largely around Capital Metro’s projected budget for the next 10 years, most recommendations will focus on the bus network.

In response to feedback from thousands of people around Central Texas, Capital Metro’s updated network will take a frequency-first approach, tripling the number of bus routes running every 15 minutes or better. The agency follows industry peers TriMet in Portland, Sound Transit in Seattle, Denver Metro and Houston Metro by investing in key corridors to build core frequent service and ridership, while reducing waiting times.

Capital Metro’s new plan is designed to improve the rider experience – creating a 24/7 transit system that will see expanded MetroExpress and MetroRapid service, and more east-west options.

FEATURES OF THE NEW NETWORK:

  • 2 fare types (Local and Commuter)
  • 4 MetroRapid routes (running every 7-15 minutes
  • 13 Frequent Local routes (running every 15 minutes)
  • 23 Local routes (running every 30 minutes)
  • 4 downtown circulator routes
  • 6 UT Shuttles
  • 8 Express routes
Online surveys and input collected at public meetings and events helped Capital Metro understand how and where the community would like to prioritize service improvements. This input guided the development of the service plan to meet the needs of Central Texas residents.
• Austin is now the 11th largest city in the country by population – Larger than San Francisco, California; Jacksonville, Florida; and Indianapolis, Indiana.
• Austin ranks as the fourth-most congested metro area in North America according to the INRIX Traffic Scorecard – Average time wasted in traffic annually over 40 hours (up 3 hours from 2012).
• The five-county region of Central Texas is growing by 110 people a day.
• 147,000 people commute into Austin on a daily basis, adding 19.2% to the city’s daytime population.
• The region’s population is forecasted to increase 123%, with employment increasing 135% by 2035.
• Changing demographics
• Population growth
• Declining ridership
• Growth and development
• Increasing roadway congestion
• Increasing focus on the environment
• Improving the customer experience

Central Texas is experiencing explosive growth (over 50% increase in greater Austin’s population since 2000), with more residents and jobs arriving each day. Getting from Point A to Point B is challenging with congested roadways and unpredictable travel times. Our region is projected to grow 30% over the next 10 years.

Despite population growth, Capital Metro’s ridership has declined over the past few years. Capital Metro takes this very seriously and want to know WHY that’s happening. Although certain factors like low gas prices contribute to our declining ridership, we believe reviewing our entire system will give us a fuller understanding of all of the reasons for the decline, and allow us to create a system that will better serve our existing and future customers.

LET’S WORK TOGETHER

As the Central Texas community evolves, so do the transit needs and services provided by our agency.