For Capital Metro, it’s got to be all about frequency. Austin’s public transit agency just released a draft of its Connections 2025 plan, which lays out a path for Cap Metro’s future. Every five years Cap Metro comes out with a new plan to guide changes on the city’s bus routes in an attempt to increase ridership.
Increasing ridership has been something Cap Metro has been having trouble with lately. Even with the addition of MetroRapid in the agency’s previous plan, ridership has gone down and yet, demand for better public transit has never been higher. That’s why the Connections 2025 plan calls for some major changes. More info>>
What’s in the plan?
More frequency – The number of bus routes traveling every 15 minutes (or quicker) will increase from six to 17. Under this change, more than half a million people will be within walking distance of a frequent route.
More MetroRapid – Two new MetroRapid routes will be added through downtown and East Austin
More east/west routes – Two new MetroRapid routes will travel east/west, along with nine frequent routes
Simpler fares – The premium rate currently charged on MetroRapid routes will be eliminated, as will some of the local buses that currently duplicate MetroRapid routes
MoPac Express Service – bus service will be added to the new MoPac Express Lanes, connecting to communities outside of the central core of Austin
Why is frequency so important?
For public transit, frequency is pretty much the name of the game. Throughout the country, the most successful transit systems run frequently enough that riders do not have worry about scheduling. They know that even if they miss one bus, another one will drive by shortly. This is what makes a transit system convenient enough to convince people to swap out their cars for a bus pass. It’s also something that Austin’s current system is lacking.
Only six of Austin’s bus routes are frequent (meaning they run every 15 minutes or better). Only 15 percent of the Cap Metro service area lives within a quarter mile of a frequent route.
In community surveys leading up to the release of the draft Connections 2025 plan, the number one change that respondents said would convince them to ride Cap Metro more often was frequency. According to Cap Metro, “frequency is the number one service attribute that encourages new riders to use transit service or encourages current riders to use transit for additional trips – frequency is 3-4 times more important than the speed of service, which is the next highest attribute.”
Right now, the Connections 2025 plan is only a draft. The public still needs to weigh in and offer up some feedback. Cap Metro is hosting a series of open house events September 6th through September 16th. If you can’t attend a meeting in person, you fill out the online survey instead.
After all of the public input is collected, any necessary changes will be made, and the final plan will be approved in November. The changes called for in Connections 2025 will then be rolled out over time, starting with the MoPac express routes in January 2017.