Capital Metro is set to launch the newest line in the MetroRapid BRT system in Austin, Texas.
Photo credit: Capital Metro
Capital Metro is putting the final touches on its new MetroRapid 803 service as it prepares for the official launch on Sunday, Aug. 24. The new route will offer riders frequent service along Burnet, Guadalupe, Lavaca and South Lamar, from The Domain to Westgate Mall via UT and downtown.
Service will run weekdays from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
“We’re so pleased to be launching the second phase of MetroRapid service through the heart of the city,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson. “Just like the 801, the 803 is an easy way for people to get to all kinds of popular places around town. It’s also a great option for commuters and students who want to get to work or school quickly.”
The new 15-mile route will make stops at 34 new stations, and 12 existing ones shared with Route 801 in downtown Austin along the Guadalupe and Lavaca corridors. All MetroRapid stations have real-time digital signage that show arrival times of the next two vehicles, canopies, bench seating and lighting.
Riders will be able to access many well-known destinations when service begins, including the UT Research Campus (JJ Pickle), The Domain, Central Market North, Seton Medical Center, the museum district, ACC Rio Grande, downtown Austin, the University of Texas main campus, the State Capitol, Barton Springs/Zach Scott Theater, Seaholm, Alamo Drafthouse Lamar Square and Westgate Mall.
To assist passengers using the service for the first time, Capital Metro plans to have volunteers at MetroRapid stations along the new route and also onboard vehicles to answer questions and help riders plan their trips.
MetroRapid Route 803 will offer the same features and benefits as the current MetroRapid Route 801 service, including:
- Increased frequency: Service will run every 12-15 minutes during peak hours, and 15-20 minutes during non-peak times. Weekend service will run every 20-30 minutes.
- New vehicles: All vehicles on the new route will be 40-feet long, enough to hold 78 passengers. They will feature two extra-wide doors for faster boarding, fully padded seats, extra headroom, higher ceilings and LED lighting.
- 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 lets riders purchase passes with their smart device, then use it as their pass. Riders can download the CapMetroApp 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 help keep people moving.
- Unique stations: Stations will feature electronic digital signage showing next arrival times, bench seating, lighting and canopies.
- 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.
A single ride on MetroRapid costs $1.50. Riders can also choose to purchase a Day Pass for $3.00, 7-Day Pass for $13.50 or 31-Day Pass for $49.50. UT and ACC students and staff, and also city of Austin employees, ride for free with valid ID due to existing partnerships with Capital Metro.
The agency conducted several full-scale simulations prior to the launch of service to acquaint bus operators with the route and new technology onboard.
Local service in the Burnet/South Lamar corridor will be maintained along Route 3 when MetroRapid Route 803 service begins. Route 3 will maintain the same route and stops currently offered, however service will be extended to Southpark Meadows and frequency will be adjusted.
The first MetroRapid line, Route 801, launched on Jan. 26, 2014 along a 21-mile stretch of North Lamar/South Congress. Route 801 has 43 stations, including the 12 shared with Route 803 downtown. The two MetroRapid routes, which roughly form an X across the heart of Austin, will serve approximately 25 percent of Capital Metro's service area, providing service along some of the area’s most heavily trafficked routes.
In May of this year, MetroRapid’s station design received an award from the Austin chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In June, the agency also won the “2014 Best of Texas Award” for its CapMetro Mobile Ticketing App in the category of Best Mobile/Wireless Project.
Most of the funding for MetroRapid comes from a $38 million federal grant, which amounts to about 80 percent of the $47.6 million total project cost.
Route 803 will begin service on schedule. The overall MetroRapid project was completed on time, and is forecasted to come in under budget.
MetroRapid, along with MetroRail, are two key components of the Project Connect high-capacity transit plan, whose aim is to connect people, places and opportunities with an integrated system, using a variety of transportation modes.