Central Texans are increasingly choosing Capital Metro as a preferred way to get around. Capital Metro closed out 2012 with more than 34 million boardings, an increase of 1.5 million trips over 2011.
During 2012, Capital Metro provided an average of 112,000 rides each weekday — enough passengers to completely fill both the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and Disch-Falk Field combined.
Nationally, public transportation ridership increased by 2.6 percent during the first three quarters of 2012, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Capital Metro’s ridership growth of 4.7 percent in 2012 far exceeded the national trend.
“The ultimate endorsement of our service is that so many people choose to ride with us,” Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson said. “High gas prices and a strong local economy are certainly factors, but we’ve also improved nearly every aspect of our business, with updated and streamlined routes, new buses and better information at bus stops.
“We’re also stronger internally, with greater financial accountability and transparency. We’re a different Capital Metro today, and the community has taken notice.”
Fixed-route bus ridership is on a 22-month growth streak, due, in part, to the agency’s implementation of ServicePlan2020, a comprehensive roadmap to reinvent Capital Metro’s bus system by 2020. As part of overall gains in trips taken, the agency saw a marked increase in ridership among Austin Community College students and faculty (8 percent increase) and city of Austin employees (30 percent increase).
“Every bus line in the system was reviewed, and thanks to the strong leadership of our board and President Watson, we’ve been systematically incorporating changes to routes since 2010 to improve the efficiency and productivity of the bus system,” Vice President of Planning Todd Hemingson said.
MetroRail ridership has tripled since service began in 2010. In 2012, MetroRail hit a milestone of its one millionth passenger trip, and ridership increased nearly 50 percent in 2012 over 2011. Ridership has increased in part due to extended evening service on Fridays and Saturdays, which is now averaging 2,200 trips per weekend.
“We are attracting new daytime riders from our evening service,” Vice President of Marketing and Communications Dan Dawson said. “People are experiencing the ease and comfort of riding the rails at night, and get hooked and decide to try it for getting back and forth to work.”
MetroRail is a key part of the larger overall regional system for high-capacity transit in Central Texas. In addition to ridership milestones, it is contributing to the economic vitality of the region, with more than $95 million in new development built near MetroRail stations, and another $283 million in various stages of new development planning.
Capital Metro was driving progress in 2012, and the agency is hard at work planning for the region’s future with high-capacity transit solutions, like MetroRapid, that will move more people at less cost and with less impact to the environment. MetroRapid will begin service January 2014, and will travel the densest transit corridors in the region. Station construction is already underway for the first 40 MetroRapid stations along North Lamar and South Congress.
The agency is currently engaged in a regional planning effort through Project Connect, a collaboration of transit and government organizations working to keep Central Texas connected. MetroRapid, MetroRail, express lanes and additional rail projects are some of the components included in the vision of Project Connect.
Noted Watson, “Capital Metro is committed to the vitality and livability of our region. Thousands of people in the community have already discovered that we’re an easy and economical choice, and we’re greatly looking forward to introducing many more new riders to our services as they continue to expand.”