he clock is rapidly counting down to the Jan. 26 launch of MetroRapid, Capital Metro’s new high-tech, high-capacity transit service that will serve the densest and highest ridership transit markets in the region. In the final few days leading up to the start of service, Capital Metro is busy managing every last detail associated with rolling out a major new transit service.
MetroRapid will offer riders frequent service along Lamar, Guadalupe, Lavaca and South Congress, from Tech Ridge to Southpark Meadows. Service will run weekdays from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“Our incredible team has accomplished so much during the past four years to introduce this convenient, premium service to Austin,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson. “There’s a lot of great buzz about MetroRapid, and we’re excited to bring this new transit experience to our rapidly growing community.”
To assist passengers using the service for the first time, Capital Metro plans to have nearly 200 staff members and volunteers at MetroRapid stations and onboard vehicles during the first week of service answering questions, demonstrating the new mobile ticketing app, and helping riders plan their trips.
MetroRapid’s package of service improvements are expected to boost ridership, similar to what has occurred in other cities with rapid transit systems. Ridership is projected to reach over 20,000 boardings per weekday within the first two years of operation.
Features of the new MetroRapid service include:
- Increased frequency: MetroRapid will run every 10-12 minutes during peak hours, and 12-20 minutes during non-peak times. Weekend service will run every 20-30 minutes.
- Fewer stops: MetroRapid will have just 44 stops along a 21-mile route to get people to their destinations quickly.
- New vehicles: All vehicles on the new route will be 60-feet long–enough to hold 101 passengers–with an accordion-style flexible middle section to make turning easy. They will feature three extra-wide doors for faster boarding, fully padded seats, extra headroom, higher ceilings and LED lighting to give passengers a premium experience.
- Wi-Fi: Free onboard Wi-Fi will give riders the chance to get some work done, or sit back and relax while they catch up on the latest news or enjoy other activities.
- Mobile app: The free app will let riders purchase passes with their smart device, then use the device as their pass. The app will also offer real time* arrival information, trip planning and a feature that finds the closest station. Called the CapMetroApp, it can be downloaded now through the Apple Store, Google Play and Windows Store.
- Traffic priority lanes: Dedicated transit lanes downtown on Guadalupe and Lavaca between Cesar Chavez and MLK Streets will help keep people moving.
- Unique stations: Stations will feature electronic digital signage that shows next arrival times, bench seating, and canopies to protect against sun and rain. Stations have been strategically placed to maximize connectivity to MetroBus and MetroRail services.
- 3-position bike racks: Racks on the front of the vehicles will be able to hold three bikes.
- Traffic signal priority: Onboard signal priority technology will allow buses to hold traffic lights green a little longer when a vehicle is running behind schedule