Is Weekend MetroRail Service Paying Off?
The Austin City Council voted to funnel millions of dollars to Capital Metro to pay for weekend service on the MetroRail commuter line. Weekend MetroRail service began about two months ago, after the council approved the financing. It was billed as a convenient, safe way to get to and from downtown during peak party times.
Ben Wear, a transportation reporter with the Austin-American Statesman, joined KUT’s Matt Largey to discuss how the city’s investment is paying off so far.
On one very special day in March of this year, 7,000 people boarded in a single day – compared to Capital Metro’s normal weekday ridership of about 1,800 to 2,000. So people were thinking maybe there’s this bonanza waiting for us on Friday nights and Saturday. It hasn’t been quite that.
They’ve been getting an extra 630 or so boardings on Friday nights by running it after-hours [and] averaging a little over 1,300 for each of those Saturdays. They’ve fallen short on Friday night and they have met expectations on Saturday.
When you have a situation where downtown is clogged and becomes inaccessible, rail is sort of an outlet for that. And that’s what did happen during South by Southwest and during Pecan Street [Festival].