Capital Metro’s new MetroRapid fleet will hit the streets of Austin in full force on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 in preparation for the launch of service in January.
The field test will take place from 4:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will cover the entire 21-mile length of Route 801, the first route to open. The route travels along North Lamar and South Congress from Tech Ridge to Southpark Meadows via UT and downtown.
Route 801 will replace Routes 1L and 101 when service begins, providing more frequent and efficient service to the same area. Some of the destinations riders will be able to access along the new route include Chinatown, North Lamar Transit Center, MetroRail‘s Crestview Station, the Triangle, Republic Square, downtown Austin, UT, the State Capitol, Long Center for the Performing Arts, South Congress retail district and St. Edward's University.
A main objective of the Dec. 10 field test is to validate the performance of the new technology being used onboard the vehicles. Also, “dwell times,” or the time it takes a vehicle to load and unload passengers at each station, will be recorded. In addition, operators will simulate detour scenarios and traverse through the new transit priority lanes on Guadalupe and Lavaca downtown.
The public may notice people getting onboard or exiting the vehicles at stations, or riding aboard along the route, but these ”passengers” will, in fact, be Capital Metro employees helping out during the test. All staff members will be wearing brightly-colored vests for easy identification.
In addition to becoming more familiar with the route and locations of the 44 high-tech stations, operators will have the opportunity to test out some of the new enhanced features aboard the vehicles, including a new communications system that lets the operators know if they are on schedule, and transit signal technology that keeps traffic lights green longer when vehicles are running behind schedule.
The distinctive red and silver MetroRapid vehicles began making regular appearances on Austin streets back in September when operator training began. Route 801 is scheduled to begin service on Jan. 26, with Route 803 launching in late summer.