Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Infobox Public transit
name = Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority

imagesize = 150px
locale = Austin, Texas
transit_type = Bus, Bus Rapid Transit, Commuter Rail
began_operation = 1986
system_length =
lines =
stations = nine commuter rail stations
ridership = 130,000Fact|date=April 2008
track_gauge =
operator = CMTA

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Capital Metro is a public transit provider owned by the city of Austin, Texas. It operates buses and will begin operating a commuter rail system in 2009. Capital Metro serves Austin and several suburbs in Travis and Williamson Counties.

Currently more than 140,000 passenger trips are made every day to more than 3,000 stops in 400 buses.Fact|date=April 2008 In doing so, the agency boasts the highest ridership per capita in Texas and has experienced one of the fastest rates of growth of any major transit system in the nation. Fact|date=April 2008


The creation of Capital Metro was approved in 1985 by the citizens of Austin with a one-cent sales tax. In 1986, the system was launched, taking over the existing city of Austin bus services.

In order to receive federal funding, pursuant to the [ Federal Transportation Act] , the collective bargaining rights of its employees needed to be assured. Since Texas law prohibits collective bargaining by public employees, StarTran - a non-profit corporation - was created to operate Capital Metro's assets [cite web |url= |title=Startran, Inc., Docket No. 02-1140 |accessdate = 2008-08-25 |publisher=US Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission |date=July 23, 2003]

In 1989, public perception was that too many buses were running virtually empty. The MTA tax was cut to 3/4 percent, and Capital Metro attempted to boost ridership by eliminating fares entirely. Although the program was wildly successful in attracting new riders, a perception created by a few in the media was that there were too many "problem riders" using the system. [cite web |url=!OpenDocument |title = Fare-free Buses, The Austin Experience |accessdate = 2007-09-12 |work = People for Modern Transit ] Both of these footnoted references point exclusively to testimony by a former Capital Metro board member turned staffer, Lyndon Henry, whose assertions that ridership only increased by 10 percent of regular fixed-route riders, that operating expenses skyrocketed, and that vagrants drove away normal riders contradict documents from the period. [cite web |url = |title = Free Fare Period, 1989-90 |accessdate = 2007-15-20 |work = Bus Riders Union of Austin, Texas ]

Market research showed that "In only a couple of isolated instances are on-board safety or less than desirable passengers or anything else negatively attributed to the free fare program cited as reasons for discontinued use of bus service." [cite web |url = |title = Free Fare Telephone Survey. 1993. Page 1. |accessdate = 2008-05-16 |work = NSI Market Research ] Despite the facts and widespread support -- general public approval of the fare-free program was 81%, even though 49% of respondents had never used Capital Metro services; among riders, it was 97% -- the political forces fearing the media farces reinstated fares in January 1991.

In response to the new ADA compliance rules passed in 1990, the system eventually became the first bus transit agency to have its entire bus fleet equipped with wheelchair ramps.

In October 1995, Capital Metro's board of directors increased the MTA sales tax back to its original rate of one percent, promising to set aside the additional quarter percent for future projects. This brought the annual tax burden up to $349 per household.

In 1997, Capital Metro's board of directors was "reorganized" just ahead of a performance review by the Texas Comptroller. [cite web |url = |title = Public Transit, Public Trust |accessdate = 2007-09-10 |work = John Sharp, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts ] The review cited "ongoing criminal investigation" by the FBI, "irresponsible management", "expensive, embarrassing mistakes", "dubious contracting and purchasing practices", $118,000 spent on "food, parties, and presents for its employees" and culminated with "We have never, in all of the performance reviews we have conducted, seen an agency with such a lack of accountability." [cite press release |title=Sharp Report Offers 147 Recommendations to Improve Operations and Restore Public Trust in Capital Metro |publisher=Texas State Comptroller |date=1998-07-15 |url= |format= |language= |accessdate= |quote= ]

In 2000, Capital Metro proposed spending $1.9 billion for a light rail system with 52 miles of track on existing streets. The referendum was narrowly defeated at the polls. [cite web |url = |title = A Critical Analysis of the Austin Light Rail Proposal |accessdate = 2007-09-10 |work = Texas Public Policy Foundation ]

In 2004, Capital Metro added a trip planner to its web site. Riders enter their intended origin and destination, along with optional time, date, and other information, and the trip planner displays itineraries showing the stops, departure and arrival times, and times to get from the origin to the destination.

In 2004, after four years of additional lobbying by Capital Metro, a commuter rail plan — to be built on pre-existing freight rail lines — won voter approval. Capital MetroRail's new rail line will run from Leander through northwest Austin and east Austin before terminating at a station on the southeastern edge of downtown Austin, at the location of the Austin Convention Center.Fact|date=September 2008 It was scheduled for completion by December 2008, but is now expected to open March 2009. [cite web |url= |title=Feds OK Cap Metro's passenger rail cars |date=2008-09-30 |last=Wear |first=Ben |publisher=The Austin American-Statesman]

Also, in 2004, and again, less than a year later, StarTran went on strike [cite web |url= |title=Cap Metro strike will not affect UT buses, officials say |publisher=The Daily Texan |accessdate=2008-08-25 |date=August 25, 2008] .

In September 2005 Stadler Rail won a bid to build six diesel-electric rail cars for the system. [cite press release|publisher=Stadler|date=September 23, 2005|title=Stadler Wins Commuter Rail Car Award with Capital Metro|url=] Those six cars will carry up to 1000 commuters per trip, on five routes in the morning, five in the evening, with a handful of routes running during the midday. The initial cost for this rail line is $90 million dollars. [cite web |url =,1596,1596 |title = Ding, Ding, Ding Goes the Commuter Train |accessdate = 2007-09-10 |author = Ben Wear |publisher=Austin American-Statesman ]

In 2008, StarTran was once again considering a general strike, despite the fact that StarTran employees were already the highest paid bus operators in the state [cite web |url= |publisher=The Daily Texan |title=VIEWPOINT: "Forecasting a bus strike" |accessdate=2008-08-25 |date=August 25, 2008]

University of Texas shuttle

The University of Texas' shuttle system, operated by Capital Metro, is the largest university transit system in the country. In 2004, the system carried about 8.1 million riders on 87 vehicles and 16 routes [cite web |url= |title=Cap Metro chooses UT bus service provider, design firms for commuter rail |accessdate=2008-08-25 |publisher=American City Business Journals |date=February 25, 2005] and earned Capital Metro nearly $15 million dollars ($5 million from student fees and $10 million in grant money from the United States Department of Transportation) [cite web |url= |title=A Battle on the Shuttle |accessdate=2008-08-25 |publisher=The Austin Chronicle |date=May 21, 2004] .

The University of Texas initially contracted out to Capital Metro in 1988. Capital Metro, in turn, subcontracted out to Laidlaw International, Inc., who had, up to that point, operated orange and white school buses [cite web |url= |title=Capital Metro: Is It Worth the Wait? |accessdate = 2008-08-25 |publisher=Cactus Yearbook |date=May 1990] [cite web |url= |title=Capital Metro: Is It Worth the Wait? |accessdate = 2008-08-25 |publisher=Cactus Yearbook |date=May 1990] for the university on a contractual basis. Rather than use Laidlaw's existing bus fleet, however, Capital Metro used their own. In so doing, Capital Metro brought air conditioning and wheelchair accessibility to the shuttle service for the first time [cite news |title=City buses take over UT shuttle system |accessdate=2008-08-28 |publisher=The Daily Texan |date=August 10, 1989] . The transition, however, was not without controversy. Among the other contested issues was the fact that these new shuttles didn't have a stereo system [cite news |title=Capital Metro debut earns mixed reviews |accessdate=2008-08-28 |publisher=The Daily Texan |date=August 29, 1989] [cite news |title=Shuttle drivers argue need for some "friendly sounds' on |accessdate=2008-09-12 |publisher=The Daily Texan |date=August 29, 1989]

In 1991, Capital Metro canceled its contract with Laidlaw and contracted out with DAVE Transportation, instead [cite news |title=DAVE wins bid to run run shuttle system |accessdate=2008-09-12 |publisher=The Daily Texan |date=June 3, 1991] cite web |url= |title=Transit Union Takes Bus Company to the End of the Line |accessdate = 2008-08-25 |publisher=UT Watch |date=March 1999] .

Amidst allegations of union busting, in 1999, Capital Metro canceled its current contract and instead contracted out with [ ATC/Vancom] , instead [cite web |url= |title=Shuttle disputes go round and round |accessdate=2008-08-25 |publisher=The Daily Texan |date=February 17, 2004] [cite news |title=Cap Metro hires new maintenance contractor |accessdate=2008-09-12 |publisher=The Daily Texan |date=January 26, 1999] .

Six years later, in 2005, Capital Metro, citing concerns over the comparatively low wages ATC/Vancom paid, negotiated a contract with First Transit to operate the UT shuttle buses [cite web |url= |title=Cap Metro Switches UT Shuttle Providers |=accessdate=2008-08-25 |publisher=The Austin Chronicle |date=March 4, 2005] .

Future projects

Capital Metro's operating budget has increased almost 60 percent over the past five years. [cite web |url = |title = Capital Metro Budget Tops $200 Million |accessdate = 2007-10-05 |author = Ben Wear |publisher=Austin American-Statesman ] This generous funding supports future projects such as the high-tech MetroRapid bus rapid transit. Capital Metro plans to reduce congestion for MetroRapid riders in two ways. First, these buses will get signal priority; as they approach an intersection, traffic signals will automatically stop cross-traffic sooner (or longer) than the normal cycle. [cite web |url= |title=Capital MetroRapid Technology on the Move |accessdate=2007-10-05 |work=Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority] Second, Capital Metro hopes to convert existing lanes into bus lanes (dubbed "near-term managed lane facilities") "to improve mobility". [cite web |url= |title=Accommodating Traffic Increases/Managed Lanes |accessdate=2007-10-05 |work=Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority]

Customer service

Capital Metro has a [ customer service advisory committee] which meets to provide feedback to the agency on how to continue improving service and facilities.


The [ fares for Capital Metro's services] are as follows:

* Students twelve and older may be required to show school ID to receive student fares.


Bus passes are available at the Capital Metro store and at area grocery shops.

Board of directors

Capital Metro is led by a board of five elected officials and two (appointed) members-at-large. The board is composed of two council members appointed by the Austin City Council; one commissioner appointed by the Travis County Commissioners' Court; one mayoral representative appointed by the mayors of the suburban cities of Travis County, within the service area; one representative appointed by a panel made up of the mayors of the suburban cities, the Williamson County Judge, and the presiding officer of each municipal utility district; and two members-at-large appointed by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Member jurisdictions

*Lago Vista
*Point Venture
*San Leanna
*areas of Williamson County, including the Anderson Mill area
*Precinct 2 of Travis County []

The original jurisdictions of Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Rollingwood and West Lake Hills have withdrawn from Capital Metro.]

Service to other areas in the Austin metropolitan area is provided by the Capital Area Rural Transportation System.

Capital Metro recently voted to allow a new policy that would allow new members cities to hire Cap Metro to provide transit service, without using the 1% sales tax. [cite web |url= |title=Cap Metro opens door to suburban transit service | accessdate = 2008-07-01 | author = Ben Wear | publication=Austin America-Statesman] Former member city Cedar Park is interested in restoring service, and nonmembers Round Rock, Elgin, Dripping Springs and Kyle are interested as well.

Bus routes

Capital Metro's fixed route bus service includes 49 metro routes and seven Express routes as of 2008.

Local Service routes

*1L/1M-North Lamar/South Congress
*5-Woodrow/South 5th
*6-East 12th
*7-Duval/Dove Springs
*9-Enfield/Travis Heights
*10-South 1st/Red River
*17-Cesar Chavez
*18-Martin Luther King
*19-Bull Creek
*20-Manor Road/ Riverside
*23-Johnny Morris
*29-Barton Hills
*30-Barton Creek
*37-Colony Park/Windsor Park

Flyer and Limited routes

*100-Airport Flyer
*101-North Lamar/Congress Ltd.
*103-Manchaca Flyer
*110-South Central Flyer
*122-Four Points Limited
*127-Dove Springs Flyer
*135-Dell Limited
*137-Colony Park Flyer
*142-Metric Flyer
*171-Oak Hill Flyer
*174-North Burnet Limited

Feeder routes

*201-Southpark Meadows
*202-Battle Bend
*214-Lago Vista Feeder
*243-Wells Branch

Crosstown routes

*320-St. Johns
*328-Ben White
*333-William Cannon
*339-Walnut Creek/Koenig
*350-Airport Blvd.

pecial Services and Dillos

*410-E-Bus/West Campus
*412-E-Bus/Main Campus
*430-Eastside Story
*440-Tech Ridge Circulator
*450-Congress Dillo
*451-6th Street Dillo
*470-Tour the Town
*481-Night Owl North
*482-Night Owl East
*483-Night Owl Southeast
*484-Night Owl Lamar/South 1st
*485-Night Owl Cameron
*486-Night Owl Dove Springs
*490-H-E-B Shuttle
*499-Day Labor

Express routes

*935-Tech Ridge Express
*982-Pavilion Express
*983-N. U.S. 183 Express
*984-NW direct via Interstate 35
*986-Leander Direct via Interstate 35
*987-Leander/NW Express
*990-Northeast Express

University of Texas at Austin shuttles

on UT WebSite

Dillos (downtown shuttles)

Capital Metro claims that decreasing ridership on the Dillos has prompted Capital Metro to evaluate reducing the number of routes to two and increasing their frequency. [cite web |url = |title = Capital Metro may thin Dillo herd |accessdate = 2008-04-15 |author = Ben Wear |publisher=Austin American-Statesman ]

However, a deeper dig into the assertions reveals Capital Metro's desire to drastically scale back, and possibly cut altogether, 'Dillo service -- the only fare-free service left in Austin, Texas. [cite web |url = |title = BRU-ATX on Proposed 'Dillo Cuts |accessdate = 2008-05-20 |work = Bus Riders Union of Austin, Texas ]


External links

* [ Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority]
* [ Bus Riders Union of Austin, TX]

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