March 29, 2010
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Austin Introduces Capital MetroRail Service
The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) in Austin, TX, entered a new era March 22 with the introduction of service on Capital MetroRail, described as the first modern passenger rail system in central Texas.
Capital MetroRail’s 32-mile Red Line connects Leander with downtown Austin, allowing commuters to avoid heavily congested highways. The service, which operated free during its first week, will have Capital Metro staff and community volunteers providing assistance at each of the nine stations for the first two weeks.
Capital Metro Interim President/Chief Executive Officer Doug Allen called the launch “a historic day for Capital Metro that will forever change the face of transportation in our region. The addition of MetroRail brings us another step closer to providing a premier multimodal transit system, which our community so deserves.”
Mike Martinez, Austin mayor pro tem and Capital Metro board chairman, added: “Austin is a world-class city, but traffic congestion threatens our quality of life: it has negative environmental, health, and economic consequences. MetroRail is part of our region’s solution to protect our quality of life. It’s been at least five years in the making, and it’s a great day in Austin to see MetroRail trains carrying passengers to work and school.”
The service operates nine trips in the morning, six southbound and three northbound, and 10 trips in the afternoon, six northbound and four southbound.
MetroRail is part of the agency’s All Systems Go Long-Range Transit Plan, which also includes expanded local and express bus service; MetroRapid bus service; and new and improved park-and-ride lots. The central Texas community helped create the transit plan and approved a referendum in 2004 to allow Capital Metro to operate passenger rail.
Formal dedication ceremonies with an emphasis on safety were scheduled for March 27. These were expected to include a MetroRail “Safety Train” demonstration ride from Leander to downtown Austin, carrying students who participated in Capital Metro’s rail safety education efforts. Free celebrations at the Leander and Downtown stations offered food and live music performed by buskers (professional street musicians).
Photo by Michele Hedderman