Capital Metro Performance Review Comments from Public Forums
From March 21, 1998 through March 27, 1998, TPR held public forums in the Capital Metro service area to allow citizens to express their opinions about the authority in person. These forums were held at Crockett High School (south), Reagan High School (northeast), Mendez Middle School (southeast), Lanier High School (north), Pflugerville High School (far north) and Pan American Community Center (central).
Participants were asked to share their experiences with Capital Metro, concerns about the authority's direction, and ideas for improvements in its structure and services. Participants could either write comments on these topics or could present oral comments to TPR staff members. As a springboard to participation, TPR provided attendees with the following questions:
PUBLIC TRUST: What can Capital Metro do to restore public trust?
FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY: How can Capital Metro save tax dollars and be held accountable for spending tax dollars?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: How can Capital Metro improve the reliability of its basic bus services, the maintenance of buses, and customer-friendliness of Capital Metro drivers and staff?
COMMUNITY RELATIONS: How can Capital Metro improve communications with the public, with other city, county, and state government agencies, with neighborhood groups, and with the business community?
BOARD STRUCTURE: How could the structure of the Capital Metro Board be changed to promote stable management and public accountability?
VAN POOL: Does Capital Metro's van pool program provide an equal amount of service to all areas of the Austin area? Is it a good use of taxpayer dollars?
SPECIAL TRANSIT SERVICES: How well does Capital Metro serve the disabled and other citizens with special transportation needs?
FUTURE OF CAPITAL METRO: What should be Capital Metro's top three guiding goals? What should Capital Metro do during the next five years to keep up with the growth of the Greater Austin area?
The following responses were provided by forum participants.
PUBLIC TRUST: What can Capital Metro do to restore public trust?1. Involve the community in its decision-making in a meaningful way.
2. Change board structure so that board members are elected by the public.
3. From this point on, be fiscally responsible with frequent, independent audits.
4. Restore internal auditor of proven integrity.
5. Admit their system is outdated with today's culture. Change their mindset, that what they provide is reasonable service.
6. Make the bus system work efficiently.
7. Buses are the most conspicuous part of Capital Metro, at least in between scandals. Give us a bus system that will compete with the automobile. CMTA could have found more allies if it at least had been providing a useful service.
8. Stop making excuses for bad service.
9. Do not repeat mistakes made by previous managers or boards when they refuse to release information which should have been made public.
10. Stabilize the agency's board and management. Constant change in the leadership produces uncertainty and chaos for the staff. Each time the board and management changes, new procedures/policies are instituted (sometimes without adequate study of those already in place). A stable board and management would allow time for plans instituted to be carried to fruition.
11. Provide the most reliable, efficient bus service possible.
12. Let the public know what's going on and what's planned for the future. Use the media to tell Capital Metro's story.
13. The appointing body should establish stable board of directors, so that the staff can have clear policy direction.
14. The public cannot trust Capital Metro Authority, which has constant change at the top.
FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY: How can Capital Metro save tax dollars and be held accountable for spending tax dollars?1. Capital Metro needs good money managers. Establish and maintain sound accounting and management information systems. As new buses are acquired, get smaller ones, but keep some large ones.
2. Build a route system that serves the region better.
3. The most responsible way to address the issue of accountability and more bang-for-the-buck would be to concentrate on the needs of the ridership and proper routing of existing bus services and forego the greed for federal dollars for light rail. Leave this to the will of the people to vote yay or nay.
4. Need sensible and careful use of good purchasing criteria. The new buses have terrible seats and not many poles for safety, steps are bad for the kids.
5. Establish a[n] audit, selecting a big "5" accounting firm!
6. Return the position of internal auditor to the staff and require annual internal audits to ensure in-house controls.
7. Provide the public with periodic budget reports in easily understood format/language.
8. Use an efficient preventative maintenance program for the buses. Another way would be for the Legislature to release Capital Metro from the requirement to use condensed natural gas buses for the Special Transit Services.
9. Provide quarterly budget reports to customers, taxpayers, public, legislators, and other stakeholders in layman's language.
10. Clearly explain the purpose of strategic planning and make sure all groups have the opportunity to be participants in the process.
11. Need fare increase to $0.75 or $1.00. Need a new type of transfer. Many riders are riding free, taking advantage of it. Most operators don't punch the transfer like they are supposed to.
12. Examples of other types of transfer used...coupon[s]...used in New Orleans and L.A. [are] perforated. Only half of the drivers at Capital Metro make the effort to collect the coupons.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: How can Capital Metro improve the reliability of its basic bus services, the maintenance of buses, and customer-friendliness of Capital Metro drivers and staff?1. Rotate buses for maintenance.
2. Have frequent community public forums.
3. Inside appearance of buses needs to be maintained.
4. A big enough fleet of buses and regular maintenance should provide reliable service.
5. Drivers need continuous training in public relations.
6. I've had a lot of great drivers. Some were personally pleasant, but needed driving lessons. Campus shuttle drivers are a little worse than regular drivers. And I don't mind the campus drivers playing stereos, but turn them down please·
7. Requires a fundamental change in target ridership. As long as service is aimed amicably at the "transportation disenfranchised" (riders by necessity), respect for the riding population will be a problem.
8. Planning group has a "can't do" mindset, don't seem aware of new development in Austin; needed bus routes get discontinued.
9. I hear many bus drivers complain to other drivers or passengers about Capital Metro policy/procedures. Are drivers that unhappy?
10. Suggest working with state to develop a.m. and p.m. express buses from 4-8 areas of the region to the Capitol complex in exchange for eliminating free parking for state employees. Build buildings and not parking garages.
11. Slow buses down on small streets.
12. Consider not being involved with UT shuttle.
13. Provide better and more driver education.
14. Bonuses for driver safety.
15. Comment cards for passengers to give input. Make courtesy and friendliness reason for promotion and raises.
16. More lighted bus stops and signs for safety purposes.
17. Public officials should randomly ride without suits and ties!
18. By purchasing new buses periodically rather than ordering a new fleet at once.
19. Solicit input from both operators and passengers regarding problems.
20. Examine routes and schedules to make them more efficient-perhaps delete some low use stops, add more cross-town routes.
21. Explore and implement HOV or bus-only traffic lanes, use of new technologies, such as traffic light, pre-emptied equipment on buses. Bring "smart" buses to Austin.
22. Continue the round-the-clock maintenance service now in place.
23. Staff maintenance facility with experienced personnel.
24. Continue encouraging operators and staff to deal with the public in a courteous and helpful way. They are consistently friendly and helpful. I have witnessed incredible displays of patience and helpfulness on part of operators in trying situations. I think they do an excellent job. Recognition from the board, consideration, and encouragement from management go a long way to help staff.
25. Purchase buses on cycle that will insure that the fleet is replaced on a staggered schedule rather than the current 12-year cycle. Continue to improve the prevention Maintenance program. Get more input from drivers and passengers when developing specifications for future bus purchases. Increase maintenance personnel, so that buses can be prepared more quickly. Hold the bus manufacturer accountable for bus equipment failure while still under warranty. Example: when Capital Metro bought first CNG buses, manufacturer recommended some change to make buses more efficient, which Capital Metro disregarded costing more money in the long run. Example 2: on the Special Transit Services buses, the manufacturer did not notify the authority that the transmission fluid vent was under exhaust system, which caused fires. This manufacturer's defect should have been addressed before delivery. Increase resources for training of maintenance personnel.
26. Bus driver says we need more East, West, cross town lines. Need to expand services in the evening especially to the UT area. Should run from at least 12 midnight to 1:00 a.m. 11:30 is last outbound for leaving 6th Street.
27. Really believes that a new style transfer would really improve customer service. Stop contracting services.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS: How can Capital Metro improve communi-cations with the public, with other city, county, and state government agencies, with neighborhood groups, and with the business community?1. Needs to focus on who their customers are.
2. Who is the light rail trying to attract-people in the cars or existing passengers?
3. Need to be open about whatever they intend to do. Better upkeep of bus stops; clean buses on heavily traveled route more than once daily.
4. Police the bus stops to keep transients and drunks away from these areas.
5. Use Capital Metro Police to improve communications.
6. Its public involvement programs need to be improved and maintained, but be far different from the past in approach; must give all segments a voice and role in decisions.
7. Have more input from neighborhood associations.
8. More partnerships with community, i.e. bus services for group transportation for businesses/governments.
9. Create a cross jurisdictional panel to better integrate all entities on transportation issues!
10. Use direct mail notices to residents; don't just rely on neighborhood associations. A lot of citizens don't join the association.
11. CIAC (Community Involvement Advisory Committee) created 1997, but never appointed.
12. Restore positions recently cut from the community relations department for better communication.
13. Public meetings, new services, should be publicized using all media. An effort to establish cordial relations with personnel in radio, television, and newspaper should be undertaken. Capital Metro should be proactive, not reactive, where media is concerned.
14. Strengthen the citizen advisory groups now in existence, give them good direction as to how they can help in the effort to build the best transportation system possible. Listen to what they have to say and provide timely response to their suggestions.
15. Actively market new routes and services via presentations at neighborhood groups, direct mail, ads in all media, etc.
16. Recruit leaders of neighborhood groups to participate on advisory committees, so that they feel that they are part of the solution and not responding to a problem.
17. Update the carpool database. Many entries are over 5 years old and are invalid.
BOARD STRUCTURE: How could the structure of the Capital Metro Board be changed to promote stable management and public accountability?1. The board needs a game plan.
2. The board needs a comprehensive 5 or 10 year plan.
3. The board should be diversified to reflect the ethnic make-up of its ridership.
4. The board should include a person(s) who is not elected or appointed.
5. Board members should have experience managing "large enterprises."
6. Longer terms/greater support from elected officials, appointing bodies that aren't trying to steal CMTA's money!
7. Let the people elect all the board members.
8. Make board members ride the buses if they don't already! Feel free to issue them free bus passes on the sole condition that they don't ride a car if they can use the bus. I predict we will never run short of buses again!
9. Members should be users of the service. Have community users give input regularly.
10. Add bus riders and add bus operator to the board, if the bus could fit more than ten people. All present and former boards have been composed of political officials or cronies. As long as this continues, the best interests of the community will continue to be ignored.
11. Work sessions have no public participation.
12. Provide for election of at least one board member, preferably all elected.
13. Having a board composed of elected officials is a mistake. They are in effect trying to serve two masters (both taxing authorities) and inevitably there will be some conflict of interest. Sometimes they seem more interested in how things will be perceived by their constituencies than what the long term effects of their actions will be.
14. Board should include regular citizens as well as transportation experts.
15. The Sunset Commission made a serious mistake by requiring that two (2) year terms be required for board members. It takes two (2) years to learn the job. Four-year terms would provide much more stability.
16. Elected official being responsible for two taxing authorities at the same time create inefficiency for both governmental entities. Board members should be required to participate in an extensive orientation program when appointed. A member who refuses to participate should be removed.
17. Positive changes in Capital Metro operation to increase efficiency and reliability is much more important than quick-fix, public-relation moves. Longer terms of service will give board members the opportunity to establish credibility and accountability and renew the public confidence in the authority.
VAN POOL PROGRAM: Does Capital Metro's van pool program serve all areas of the Austin equally? Is it a good use of taxpayer dollars?1. No, van pool does not work.
2. Yes, van pools do work and have a role in a wide range of transit options.
3. I don't know if the van pool is worth the money. Not that many people use them.
4. Good use of taxpayer $-yes.
5. This program needs improvement. It could be better.
6. Surveys of non-users needed to determine why they don't use the program.
7. Today's service reflects the level of attention it is given; CMTA does not have a data base that can be used to increase participation.
8. No, does not provide equal service to all areas of Austin.
9. Yes, it is good use of taxpayer dollars. Cuts down on the number of cars on the road and provides service to areas where fixed routes don't go.
10. Van pool does not provide equal amount of service to all areas. The van pool could be used much more effectively to reduce the load on Special Transit Services. This is an example of responsible use of the tax dollar.
11. Yes, all CMTA citizens are eligible to form a van pool. It is a good use of money because support is shifted to volunteer drivers, reducing Capital Metro's overhead.
SPECIAL TRANSIT SERVICES: How well does Capital Metro service the disabled and other citizens with special transportation needs?1. Many drivers do not know how to assist riders in wheelchairs.
2. Better than just about anywhere in the USA, and everywhere in Texas!, but still needs to go further given the larger disabled population in Austin.
3. Be available to provide special assistance on demand-no waiting list for service.
4. Not very well; drivers need training to help special/disabled persons, like sign language, etc. Many people feel helpless when in fact if it was not for these people, some drivers would not have a job.
5. Timing-sometimes clients wait for an hour or more for pick ups.
6. Great, I've noticed it has done very well.
7. Very good service, very good access.
8. Insufficient number of wheelchair lifts and vans especially.
9. Listen closely to the needs of ADA and respect their pleas.
10. Increase lines serving key locations for disabled and bike riders.
11. Terribly, customers have to schedule two weeks in advance to ride. Technology exists today to make this real time.
12. Wait time is too long after drop-off. Critical for elderly who are on medication or diets for health reasons.
13. Capital Metro does a fairly good job with its Special Transit Services, but they need more vehicles as well as dispatchers. Also need a program to help users learn how to use regular fixed routes as well as Special Transit Services.
14. Special Transit Services is not the only way to serve the disabled community. Could also use a combination of efficient basic bus service, accessible bus stops, accessible routes to get to the bus stop. For long routes, use a training program to teach people with disabilities how to use basic bus service; can go a long way to meet the unmet demand for Special Transit Services. Not suggesting that they do away with Special Transit Services, but Capital Metro has not done a good job of addressing the problems. If Capital Metro would teach the disabled community how to use the basic bus system, it would help them understand how to teach the total community how to use the system. Take the best from both Special Transit Services and regular service and then have a system that would serve everybody.
FUTURE OF CAPITAL METRO: What should be Capital Metro's top three guiding goals? What should Capital Metro do during the next five years to keep up with the growth of the Greater Austin Area?1. Something like BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)?
2. Try to educate people about the benefits of riding a bus.
3. Need routes that go to dense areas without having to transfer.
4. Get on with building a regional rail transit system and make the bus system more efficient. In the process, run light rail to new airport through East Austin; for more job opportunities.
5. Develop cross town routes, so every bus trip doesn't have to go to town.
6. Work with city planning on future development issue together (transit villages).
7. Develop light rail with re-vamped bus system using a "spine & rib" layout: short, frequent bus routes feeding light rail stations.
8. Set up routes going into major employers, destinations and forget idea that everyone should be able to walk to bus stop from home. Don't be afraid of people driving a short way to catch a bus or train.
9. Strive for high frequency (10 minutes) on several high usage routes.
10. Transit industry does not have a clearinghouse that collects information to help improve quality standards nationwide.
11. Efficient transportation.
12. Fiscal responsibility.
13. Public access and participation in decision making.
14. On time routes.
15. Friendly drivers.
16. Light rail system.
17. Better use of dollars, quality of service, and maintenance of buses.
18. Utilize grid and transit center.
19. Timed transfers.
20. Fixed routes-on time at stops.
21. Alts-HOV lanes and light rail.
22. Establish major, fast moving lines running to the downtown area, which are fed by feeder lines.
23. Establish fast rail lines running from Round Rock through UT and downtown to the new airport. Also, a line running east-west from Oak Hill to far East Austin.
24. Parking lots-express buses. Create a credible public image that clearly communicates Capital Metro is the leader in solving area transportation problems and write a clear mission statement that can be understood and embraced by the community! This statement is for the community not for the board or the staff. From a clear mission statement the answers to all question above will be found.
25. Establish a credible strategic plan with early involvement of all stakeholders to meet the need for efficient transportation, including efficient basic bus service. Conduct an election in 1999 to make a decision on the direction for this authority regarding light rail.
26. The disabled community is concerned about reducing Special Transit Services because they do not have confidence in Capital Metro's basic service. Example: Special Transit Services can get from North Austin to Capital Complex in 45 minutes, the alternative basic service takes at least an hour and a half, plus walking to and from bus stop to work.
27. Light rail-get ready to be on line.
28. Expand Service.
29. More cross town routes and build light rail.
30. Need a new garage.
31. Stop contracting service.
32. Some feeder lines should be consolidated into major routes to eliminate transfers. Example bus 1 and bus 45 have parallel service.
33. Confusing to the passenger is the route numbers. Why are there more than one route number per one bus. Example 1-13 same bus just changes numbers during the route.
Most of Capital Metro's routes are radial routes. Capital Metro could do better by favoring cross-town routes. Have a problem with the timers of bus routes. Need more balance in their route types. Bus systems in Belgium use a repeating schedule. The planning of public transportation in Europe is easier because more people are going the same direction. You have more commercial area running into private. The advantage of the European approach to public transportation is better because of less fiddling with the routes. Capital Metro sometimes gives the impression that it will judge a particular area to be adequately served once a bus route is installed without actually taking into account what that bus route does. Problem is that Capital Metro thinks of service in terms of bus stops. Bus stop planning appears to be one dimensional.
I started riding buses in 1932. People need to be educated about riding the bus. The bus system worked very well in Los Angeles. There are advantages to mass transit. I do not know why people do not ride the buses. Public transportation is very important for people who don't have cars or are disabled, senior citizens, etc. My experience with Capital Metro bus drivers has been excellent.
More and smaller buses are needed. Devote 1/2 cents of full cent tax to rail. Stop studying rail and get started building the first line. Some customers won't ride a bus, but they will ride the rail. I have no problems with the bus drivers. I frequently ride the bus to work. But the buses themselves have not gotten any better-they still break down frequently. It must be difficult for the drivers to have such unreliable buses, especially when they have problems with the brakes. We need a transit system that can compete with the automobile.
My thoughts are mostly on customer service, since I have been a bus rider in Austin for almost five years. First, one thing you do that I like: I ride the 37, and it's usually the same driver at the same time. This is good; I like having a driver who recognizes me when I'm at the same stop at 6:57 every morning! I find myself wondering though, at the logic of the route designers. Many routes have weird timing or inconvenient schedules, and it's difficult to get from some parts of town to others. Example: My doctor and dentist and the blood bank are around 40-45th and Lamar. I live near the Cameron part of the 37 route. In order to get to my doctor, dentist, blood donation, and more importantly, in order to get home, I have to either go all the way downtown, or go all the way to North Lamar Transit Center; unless I'm lucky and make a 39 and still I have to walk 15 minutes from Guadalupe. The 201 was some help when it existed, but I still had to walk from Airport and 51st Street to the far side of IH35. And it was usually faster to walk! This is a bad sign, when it's faster to walk than to wait for a bus. Why isn't there a route running, say, all the way down 51st Street?
Public Trust: Open the books. Open the procedures. Don't hide when the press or a private citizen wants to know something. I am more sympathetic to Capital Metro honestly admitting mistakes than trying to cover up problems only to have to admit to them later. Also make all Capital Metro executive staff and board members ride the bus to work at least twice a week. Do these people ride the bus? A bus rider knows what is good and what is bad about the bus system, and they're well aware of where they can go and where they can't.
Fiscal Accountability: Explain why you make the financial decisions you do and listen when people raise objections. Don't ignore preventive maintenance; when I hear bus drivers complaining about buses that run out of gas two minutes after they leave the garage, I'm not encouraged! And the solution is not to shut up the drivers; it's to make sure maintenance is really done.
Maybe it's time for a complete redesign of routes. And I have the perfect route setup for getting to work, two-minute walks on each end, so I'm not suggesting this lightly.
Send Capital Metro reps to visit neighborhood group meetings. The sample tickets for particular routes are a good idea.
STS: The new buses with the low entry are great. Too bad they don't seat more people. One note: When a bus picks up a wheelchair passenger, it loses several minutes. How about assistance training for interested citizens to pull up the seats while the wheelchair passenger is getting into the bus, and helping the passenger secure the chair, so the driver can get going faster. I've seen this happen informally and it makes a big difference.
Future: Make sure the new airport is bus accessible. Actually, it would be really neat to have bus connections between the airport, the Amtrak station, and the greyhound station, but that's just my personal bias.
Idea: Provide bus info in the airport and at greyhound and Amtrak, so out-of-town tourists can find public transit info.
Route working: Add routes that don't go through downtown; stagger routes in similar areas. Why isn't the RO scheduled to be on the IH35 feeder when the 37 flyer is running, instead of when the 37 local is running? Two buses in the same place in 5 minutes and then a half hour wait-why? Also, consider some later routes, maybe? I'd love to go by bus to the banks downtown, but then I can't get home!
I favor light rails, and it can run through my backyard anytime, but I'm not sure the red line is the best route.
Other thoughts: Are my businesses interested in putting money into shuttle services like UT's. Say, a bunch of large companies clustered in some small area. A personal wish: Put the 15 stop back at the front door of the new HEB in Hancock Center! I'm willing to pay a bit more for rides and monthly passes, but I can also afford it.
There's very little trust in Capital Metro. The agency has too much money and has not shown the fiscal responsibility necessary to manage it. It is a dedicated income stream with no accountability.
The city ran a bus system in 1985 for $7 million. Within the first year of its creation, Capital Metro was bringing in $40 million. Most Austinites voted for the formation of Capital Metro in 1985, but it has not lived up to its responsibilities. It now has over $135 million in revenue, quite a bit more than the Austin Police Department.
Citizens have been polled on what they consider the most vital local services. Invariably, public transportation comes out last when compared to the following services: police, emergency medical services, fire protection, parks and recreation, garbage collection and street repair.
Capital Metro should be funded by no more than a 1/2 cent sales tax.
People have no confidence in Capital Metro to run a light rail system. If the Austin area wants a light rail system, it should consider one under separate governance.
Capital Metro shouldn't be carrying UT students, which is now 1/3 of its ridership although the school only contributes about $4.2 million a year.
Working on it over two years. Talked to Augustine trying to get a bus schedule to Bergstrom, so they would have some experience. Proposing they use park and ride and go right into the airports. A place to start is 183-620. Most people he surveyed liked that idea. People will be willing to pay for this service so it'll be sustaining. This is a good time to start. Capital Metro thinks they got to spend a lot of money to do anything. Star shuttle is doing without anything. Two or three, 15 passenger buses. All they need is buses and schedules. They need to give people what they need.
Capital Metro can gain the public trust by giving them the services that they need and want. Bus transportation schedules to the Mueller Airport is needed and will provide the experience that Capital Metro needs for Bergstrom when completed. It will be fiscally accountable because it can be a self-sustaining operation. Capital Metro can improve community relations by the use of questionnaires via the media or other means. Public opinion is important. Capital Metro needs the help of a well established professional transportation consultant such as Mr. David Gunn who would be willing to come to Austin as a favor to one of our citizens. Information has been placed in your hands.
Over the past five years, I have attended many Austin Transportation Study Policy Advisory Committee (ATS PAC) meetings and University of Texas Community and Regional Planning Growth Forum sessions, but have been unable to make any significant impact on their traditional industrial age concepts... These powerbrokers are trying to protect their investments in the downtown business district-an example of a centralized ("mainframe") model of the industrial age when face-to-face physical communications was essential between people as well as their work related tools. The power brokers are also motivated by the government funds to build the light rail system and buy the rights-of-way. In contrast, the information age will not only allow for an increasing distributed model of work, i.e. by the use of sophisticated electronic digital communications between people, but will be essential for workers to be competitive in an increasingly global market place as it will allow them to maximize their productivity. In addition, these workers will expect improvements in their lifestyle by being able to have more personal control of their time such as minimizing physical commuting to/from downtown work places (by any means) during rush hours and maximizing their use of telecommunications. It is important that governments (at every level) realize they are become increasing vulnerable because companies are becoming more mobile while governments are intrinsically immobile. In addition, companies can downsize their employees which governments cannot downsize their citizens. Hence, governments will become increasingly like `motels'-competing to attract and keep their `customers' or citizens. Governments, like any economic unit, which do not provide a competitive set of services will be at a disadvantage. As such, expensive services that are of little value to high tech employees-as I anticipate light rail in Austin to be-and citizens who do not contribute very much to the economic (lower tax revenue) or social well-being (more crime) will make a government less competitive in attracting/keeping high tech citizens... As an alternative, Austin should encourage the use of telecommuting, i.e. an increasing distributed workplace either in homes or local telecenters, even possibly by tax incentives. This, of course, will have benefits to our environment as well. If the number of people who become telecommuters each year equaled the number of new people coming to Austin (about 3% per year and most of them in high tech related work), the current set of roads (supplemented by SR 130 primarily to allow commercial traffic-and its air pollution-to/from Mexico to bypass Austin) would remain adequate. I-35, 183 and Mopac traffic during off-peak hours is still relatively light!
Public transportation gets a bad rap. The people outside of the taxing district taking advantage of the 113 van routes they did not know could not figure the cost per passenger mile!
40 Parkfield, 25 Olhen, 42 Quail Valley, and old #44 Arb. routes... The bus drivers were great. Provided good and great service. Route was canceled because only few people rode the bus. Empty bus[es] don't bother me, if I need them; they are there when I need them. Empty buses are like an insurance policy. Restore #40 Parkfield to service along Bitterhollow. Bus is now a mile away on the other side of Braker.
Is generally satisfied with Capital Metro but doesn't like how the board sets policy. The board feels that every new route must come at the expense of discontinuing an existing route.
The problem with disabled access is the City of Austin's fault, not Capital Metro's. The heavy load for STS is due to the problems with accessibility in Austin. He and his wife are blind and could better use regular bus service if the city were more accessible.
STS needs a toll-free, 1-stop phone number. Right now, a user can call a separate reservation number, a cancellation number, a "where's my ride" status number, and a number for the program's administration. This can create problems if a user is calling from a pay phone.
TPR should scrutinize middle management of the STS program. The program head and the drivers are good, but problems with service may be due to middle managers.
The constant criticism from the Austin American-Statesman is unfair and damaging. It is also hypocritical of the newspaper to lambaste the authority on how it uses tax dollars since the newspaper itself has benefited from a state franchise tax break.
The sales tax that funds Capital Metro is a regressive tax, so the proceeds should be used progressively. A lot of people rely on public transit, especially with new welfare laws which expand the number of people who need to work.
There's been an improvement in bus shelters over the last two years. There has also been a reduction in underused buses.
Service to people with disabilities needs to be approved. These folks need to access vocational rehabilitation services and medical services. This commentator, who is an attorney, has many disabled clients and they've mentioned the lack of dependability of STS services. The STS system needs greater flexibility. There needs to be more staffing and equipment in the STS program. Folks are missing appointments because the service is unreliable. He had one client who lost his job because he kept getting to job training late because STS was unreliable.
Capital Metro has been given the task of synchronizing traffic lights. How many other cities give their transit systems this responsibility?
Light rail is an appropriate function for Capital Metro, but routes should treat east and south Austin fairly. Innsbruck, Austria has a good light rail system. Capital Metro should study that system.
I trust Capital Metro. They run late, but it is not always their fault. Sometimes it's because of traffic. I am for the full one-cent tax, but Capital Metro can use it more wisely. What are they going do when Austin grows? There will always be a need for good, basic bus service, not van service or TeleRide are just extra. They will need more money when Austin grows for better public amenities. I am on the Capital Metro Citizens Advisory committee. The media stuff usually is a bunch of lies. The media needs to ride more and come up with solutions, not constantly attacking Capital Metro. Public distrust of Capital Metro is the fault of the media. The media should be more constructive.
Capital Metro needs to sell the transit. A lot of people don't understand the value of public transit. So, sell the value of it and explain why buses are empty and the comparative advantages of "empty" buses versus single occupancy vehicles.
Some routes duplicate parts of another. Each route should run on its own street, but the way Austin is built makes this impossible. I am trying to convince the Planning department to stop duplicative routes. Don't direct every single new route to UT Shuttle Service: UT is not charged enough money by Capital Metro for the service. UT needs to raise student fees to cover cost. Some of the UT shuttle routes need to merge together (i.e., have one bus do two routes). The General Manager needs to control how departments are spending money.
The system could use almost as much money as conceivably could be used by it for public amenities like shelters, walkways, etc. The question becomes how much will people ride transit? In general, if you put better service out there, you will get better ridership. Every major repair and capital issues are contracted out. I don't think it's a bed of corruption. The former Internal Auditor was great! His loss is a great one! There are some problems in purchasing, but it's not a huge problem...it's more confusion.
Capital Metro needs to have reliability of basic services. While bus tardiness is not always the driver's fault, Cap Metro can improve the schedules to account for times like rush hour, accidents, etc. But, if they give buses more time and keep the service at the same efficiency level, it will cost taxpayer dollars because Capital Metro will need a new bus. Generally, the bus service is reliable, but the weekend service can use more improvements. Maintenance of buses is excellent. I haven't seen a bus broken down since last August. The new maintenance program started by Justin Augustine is great. A lot of drivers are very friendly, but just being friendly is not enough. The drivers should welcome every passenger and be prepared to answer every question. Passengers often know more about buses and routes than drivers and this shouldn't happen! Drivers should also be trained to handle unruly passengers in a professional manner.
Reliability has improved over the last two years, but it is not yet summer so Capital Metro should focus maintenance on areas that normally and predictably breakdown during the summer season. I've never had a bus driver who was unfriendly or not helpful.
Capital Metro should target direct mail on focused routes. Have a simple card at all car repair garages in town that says "Call Capital Metro. We will tell you if a route is close to your location."
Capital Metro is pretty honest, but may need to improve its communication skills.
Capital Metro needs an ongoing citizens' advisory board.
Capital Metro should have a better and more formal structure for citizen input. The current Citizen Strategic Advisory Committee is a joke! They are self-selected and are not representative of the community.
The board's main responsibility is to listen to transit users and serve those users more than those that don't use transit. The current board should not be politicians while on the board! The board should try to motivate non-transit users to become users. The board could talk to more businesses asking what employees want from Capital Metro to motivate them to become users. Maybe incentives could be given like discounts on automobile insurance if a person is a regular transit user. The board also is in a position to talk about transit benefits, i.e. less congestion, less auto accidents, lower health care costs, reduction in air pollution, and good on the environment. Mass transit promotes economic growth in areas of the city where transit is heavily used, and Capital Metro has this potential downtown. Transit users spend less money on gasoline and have less wear and tear on their automobiles. There is less maintenance on major thoroughfares, thus saving highway money. Building new highways like I-130 to mitigate congestion only promotes urban sprawl and Austin cannot afford any more of that. If the board does all of the above, it will be doing Austin a great service!
The van pool service is a good use of taxpayer dollars. Vans cost a lot less than buses and they are good for the neighborhoods. But, $25.00 per passenger, per month is too low. Capital Metro should charge more of the true cost of providing the service!
STS is very expensive service, but users have already paid a great price because of their disabilities, so this is a good way to give them something back. Most users are employed and are giving back to the community. Maybe Capital Metro needs to raise the fare to no more than $1.00 per passenger. Capital Metro could do a better job of showing the public what a bargain they are getting, even if fares increase.
Capital Metro's special transit service is one of the finest services in the country and this fact pushes up the service's cost.
Top three...Light Rail definitely; expand the bus service to outlying areas with increased efficiency and better reliable service; and take customer complaints a lot more seriously! Most people don't complain because they think nothing will happen. What should the city and Austinites do to keep up with the growth of Greater Austin? We need to promote transit; stop building all of those parking spaces/garages (downtown), roads, and highways because they only promote more automobiles on the roads. By doing this, we will be more environmentally friendly, tax dollars will be working for us. A bus won't get you everywhere you want to go, but if the ridership doubles or triples, the board would meet that demand for more buses, because people would want it. The transit system would be our highway system. If you have transit close by, use it! If transit service is not close to you, say something to Capital Metro. Capital Metro cannot guess. They are communicating great with the public. It is the public that's not communicating with Capital Metro! [Politicians] have Capital Metro all wrong. [They should]...ride the transit instead of using it to further...political careers...
The bus system should be first thing to be improved...should be a network serving all. Any further budget cuts will be detrimental. Austin American-Statesman is using Capital Metro as a whipping boy.
There was a meeting in New Braunfels between representatives of Capital Metro, Austin Transportation Study (ATS), and VIA to discuss how to get $500,000 for an engineering study to get ISTEA funding for IH130. Capital Metro representatives said they would get the money from the Capital Metro Board and asked for $900,000. The Board balked at that amount, but compromised to give $500,000. The Board was removed one month after refusing to give almost $1 million. Why is Capital Metro funding IH130...? Austin supplies 90 percent of the funding, but cannot control the direction of where Capital Metro goes because Austin no longer has majority representation on the board.
The old board approved compressed natural gas buses. The new board reversed back to diesel despite mass protest. Now Capital Metro is dirtying the air. I counted 964 single diesel bus trips in one day on one square mile area (11 bus lines in this one square mile). Lung damage is a possibility here (Barton area, but not West Austin).
How do you cut the budget at Capital Metro and project to people in Austin they are saving them money, but still install $998 million rail system?
Light rail is welfare for the downtown business community. Five rail lines [will be] going to downtown Austin.
Comptroller should fix accountability, also accountability and responsibility of Capital Metro over their contracted services. Example: called in with a complaint and was told to talk to contractor.
Complaint forms should be put on-line. Capital Metro says complaints are down, but only because citizens feel no action will be taken if they complain, so they don't.
Capital Metro is so tied into transit jargon, that citizens are "belittled" at schedule changes because [they] don't speak the language.
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