Capital Metro

Austin
9:56 am
Wed February 8, 2012

KUT News Roundup: Austin Energy Rates, Weekend Rail Service, Fact Checking Lamar Smith

Public health, online piracy and the Texas primaries: KUT's broadcast stories on these topics and more are available online.
Photo by KUT News

KUT Radio’s broadcast news reporting is also available online. Here’s a mid-week look at what we’ve been following.

Austin Energy Rates Get Another Hearing This Week:

“The rate increase would be cut into two phases — most of the increase starting this year, the rest in 2014; $105 million would be transferred from Austin Energy’s budget to the city’s general fund;  and churches and small businesses would get a discount. So would customers outside the city limits.

People using 200 kilowatt-hours of energy or less each month would get the smallest bill.

The changes were meant to address some criticism of the utility’s first proposal. But some critics say the changes don’t go far enough.”

City to Vote Soon on Weekend Night Rail:

“The City of Austin and Capital Metro are getting closer to hammering out a deal on weekend Red Line rail service.

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Transportation
1:53 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

The $2.2 Million Question: Expand Cap Metro Rail Service?

Capital Metro's rail service may be expanded to weekends, if a funding agreement can be reached with the city.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Plans to expand Capital Metro’s rail service haven’t enjoyed a smooth roll-out.

The transit authority told KXAN yesterday its plans on launching weekend service on its MetroRail commuter line during this spring’s South by Southwest festival.

However, a report from Austin American-Statesman‘s Ben Wear notes there’s still no agreement between Cap Metro and the City of Austin, which is expected to fund the extra rail service. He quotes Austin City Council member and Cap Metro board chair Mike Martinez as saying, “The bottom line is, there’s no deal.”

The soonest any formal action could occur on the proposal is next week. At their Feb. 9 meeting, city council is slated to take up an item providing for the extra funding. The cost of expanding Friday rail service into the evening and running the service on Saturday is tallied at $2.2 million annually, with two optional year-long contract extensions.

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Transportation
4:02 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Cap Metro Goes Mobile, But Not In Real Time

Capital Metro is rolling out new signage with QR codes. But real time bus information won't be ready until 2014.
Photo by Wells Dunbar, KUT News

New signs are in place at Capital Metro bus stops around town. But instead of a list of times, they feature an identification number for that specific stop, and information on how to learn more about the next bus arrival. The signs include a quick response (QR) code , which people can scan with their smartphones to open a mobile website containing upcoming arrival times for that individual spot.

It’s a technological step forward for Capital Metro, which is in the process of installing site-specific signs at each of its 2,700 bus stops around Austin.

However, the times Capital Metro displays are the set, static times the transportation agency displays in their schedule books. Real-time information on bus arrivals and departures are still some two years away, the agency says.

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public transit
5:11 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Why Can't Austin Have This Elaborate Subway System?

Image by Transit Authority Figures

Update (June 17, 2014):  This story from 2011 is enjoying a second-life on the Austin Reddit page. After being posted there it inspired a discussion with over 160 comments. For more on a potential Austin subway, see this report from StateImpact Texas: Why Texas Doesn't Have Subways.

While there are no plans for a subway, Austin's plans for Urban Rail are proceeding rapidly. See KUT's combined reporting on Urban Rail here. And read our latest reporting:

Original story:  A piece of wall art making the rounds online depicts a subway system for Austin that would put this city’s public transit system on par with densely populated cities in the Northeast. The creation is produced and sold by Transit Authority Figures, based in Northampton, Massachusetts.

The poster had many people wondering aloud why Austin couldn’t just go ahead and build a world class subway system. We called up Capital Metro’s vice president of strategic planning and development Todd Hemingson and asked him ourselves.

KUT News: Why can’t we have an amazing subway system like this in Austin?

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Texas
12:13 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Cap Metro Train Hits Pedestrian

A MetroRail commuter train struck a man near Mopac and Parmer Lane late Monday afternoon.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A man was hit by the MetroRail train yesterday. Officials say the man was walking on the tracks near Parmer Lane and Mopac at around 5:45 pm. Capital Metro spokesman Adam Shaivitz says that this is the first train-pedestrian incident since MetroRail opened in March 2010.

"The most important thing here is the rail safety reminder. It is illegal and highly dangerous to walk on or near railroad tracks, and this was a very serious example that demonstrates these dangers," said Shaivitz.

News Brief
5:45 am
Thu September 29, 2011

Top Morning Stories September 29, 2011

Bastrop County leaders have approved a recovery plan following the devastating wildfires that sparked earlier this month.
Photo by KUT News.

Bastrop On the Road to Recovery

Bastrop County has been in recovery mode for weeks now, but county commissioners this week approved an official wildfire recovery plan. The plan outlines what the tasks for which local agencies will be responsible. The first priority is clearing all of the debris. Bastrop County will also hold several town hall meetings to talk about the recovery efforts. The  first one is is scheduled for October 10th.

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Transportation
11:19 am
Wed July 13, 2011

Cap Metro To Examine Naming Rights

Capital Metro's Audit and Finance Committee will look at hiring a consultant to see if selling naming rights to rail stations and park and ride lots would generate more agency revenue.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Tight budget times have agencies, companies, families, everybody… looking for creative ways to either spend less money or make more. Capital Metro’s starting to explore that “make more money” option.

The transit agency hired a consultant to look into the value of the naming rights to its rail and “park and ride” stops.  Cap Metro’s Audit and Finance Committee’s meeting at 12 noon today to start talking about the naming rights option, and to see much they might be able to make off the venture. 

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Austin
12:06 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

The Red Line, One Year Later

The Red Line will be one year old on March 22, 2011.
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News.

Capital Metro's Red Line train service turns one year old this Tuesday. Officials are pointing to higher rider numbers in recent months as proof that the commuter rail is catching on.

"Most of last year our average daily boarding were in the 800 to 900 range. In January that bumped up to about 1000, February to 1,200, and in March with some of the special service and huge crowds for South By Southwest we've seen much higher numbers just looking at the daily estimates so far," said Adam Shaivitz a spokesperson for the Transit Agency.

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Transportation
10:35 am
Tue February 22, 2011

Capital Metro Plans MetroRail Disaster Drill

Capital Metro plans to conduct a MetroRail emergency drill tonight
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

If you see something that looks like a commuter train wreck in Williamson County tonight, it's only a test.  Capital Metro will conduct an emergency drill involving the MetroRail commuter service starting at 8:00 p.m. this evening somewhere between Leander and Lakeline stations.

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Transportation
1:15 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Cedar Park City Council Abandons Bus Service Deal

Proposed Cedar Park bus service route map from CapMetro

No new Capital Metro bus service will start in Cedar Park next month after the Austin suburb's city council voted 3-3 last night on the proposal. The stalemate meant council would not take action to approve the approximately $80,000 that Cedar Park would have to pay Cap Metro for the one year pilot.

"One of my main concerns was that CapMetro receives funding from the federal government because of the population of City of Cedar Park," Council Member Tony Dale told KUT News in explaining why he opposed the deal.

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Transportation
3:38 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Google Map Shows Where CapMetro Buses Could Run In Cedar Park

This map shows roughly where the proposed new line would run, but a Google Map (link below) shows it in much greater detail.
Image courtesy CapMetro

Austin's public transit agency Capital Metro has announced that it will begin a one-year trial service to the exurb of Cedar Park.

Cedar Park City Council still has to vote on the measure at its next meeting on December 16. Under the deal, Cedar Park and Austin Community College would pay CapMetro almost $117,000.

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Transportation
12:14 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

Visualize How Far Can You Go On A Bus In 15 Minutes

We can quibble about the accuracy of this tool, but it definitely an interesting way to visualize public transit data. French software developer Stefan Wehrmeyer invented a Google Maps mashup that shows how far you can travel by public transit or on foot from any given point on the map.

Go here and just drag the marker to any place, then use the time slider in the bottom right to adjust the size of the blotch.

Here's their video explaining the concept. 

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Transportation
4:42 pm
Wed October 27, 2010

Cap Metro to Close Four Congress Ave. Stops

Cap Metro will close the stops in hopes of smoothing traffic in the busy Congress Ave. area
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Capital Metro announced it will close four of its Congress Avenue bus stops starting on November 6th as part of a pilot program. These are the stops affected:

Northbound, Congress at 6th
Northbound, Congress at 7th
Southbound, Congress at 8th
Southbound, Congress at 7th

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PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
11:57 am
Mon October 18, 2010

Tell Cap Metro What You Think About Fare Hikes

Capital Metro wants to raise bus fares to balance its budget.
Photo by KUT News

Capital Metro is holding another public hearing tonight on a proposal to increase the price of taking public transit. The hikes are intended to help Cap Metro balance its FY 2011 budget. Most of the agency's operating revenue comes from local sales tax. Cap Metro says that's an unreliable source of income because of fluctuations in consumer spending.

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