Ridership on MetroRail, which ran extended service on each Saturday of the festival, and additional midday frequency from March 11-16, surged during SXSW. Overall, Capital Metro provided more than 49,000 rides, about 14,000 more than 2012, representing an increase of nearly 40 percent.
March 15 marked a new one-day ridership record, with approximately 9,000 MetroRail boardings. Ridership on March 16 was also strong, with more than 7,700 boardings.
In addition to its enhanced MetroRail service, Capital Metro increased the frequency on MetroAirport Route 100, where weekday ridership during SXSW spiked by 135 percent, with an estimated average 2,150 trips per weekday versus 910 daily trips on a regular weekday.
“Locals and festival attendees have embraced Capital Metro as a valuable transportation option during SXSW,” says Linda S. Watson, Capital Metro president and CEO. “Capital Metro gave riders a great alternative to driving and parking downtown, and many people ended up taking advantage of those options.”
Preliminary fixed-route bus ridership estimates showed an average 97,430 boardings on March 14 (a 7 percent increase from 2012) and 100,340 trips on March 15 (a 15 percent increase from 2012), during the music portion of SXSW. Final bus ridership numbers will be available in April.
Taking a cue from the its experience during SXSW 2012, the agency added buses on Routes 1, 3, 10 and extra service on the Night Owls and E-Buses to meet demand. As Capital Metro began experiencing full train loads, the agency added an extra train into service the final weekend of SXSW.
As a testament to Capital Metro’s focus on customer service, the agency recruited more than 70 volunteers to assist at rail platforms and bus stops. The volunteers included many Capital Metro staff, MetroAmbassador volunteers and representatives from Capital Metro contractors. Some volunteers worked late into the night, sometimes until 2 a.m., on rail platforms and other key locations to ensure safe rides home for passengers.
The agency also provided enhanced customer service via social media during the 10-day festival, answering questions during the week and weekends — often in real-time — and helping riders with their trip planning.
Additional Stats During SXSW
• Over 100,000 people visited the Capital Metro website during SXSW, an increase of 15 percent over 2012
• The agency’s SXSW website pages were viewed over 42,000 times, an increase of 250 percent over 2012
• The website’s trip planner saw a 55 percent increase in use over the week prior to the event.
• Volunteers handed out 20,000 Capital Metro maps March 6-17, and did pre-event outreach at stations and along Congress Avenue in preparation for route detours
• The GO Line experienced a 6 percent decrease in call volume from March 8-17, credited to an improved detour system, volunteer staffing, social media outreach and improved bus stop signage
• Compared to 2012, the agency experienced a 23 percent decrease in operator reports of delays and a 158 percent increase in operator reports of at-capacity buses