Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We've Moved!

Capital MetroBlog has moved! Visit our new site at www.capmetroblog.com. Don't forget to update your feeds, too.

We welcome your feedback, but we've disable comments on this blog. Visit the new site to join the conversation: www.capmetroblog.com. And, thanks for reading. Read more

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Capital MetroBlog moving to a new home

Capital MetroBlog is just a wee bit over a year old. It's been a fun year on Blogger, getting our feet wet with a new blog and getting to know a few of you. We're looking forward to bigger and better things on Capital MetroBlog for our second year, and effective Tuesday, July 28, Capital MetroBlog will be moving to a new site.
We're switching to a new host site to improve accessibility and to gain the use of some additional/better tools on the backend. We hope you will make the move with us. We'll post the new link on Monday.

In the meantime, please let me know your suggestions for Capital MetroBlog's second year, and thanks for reading.
Read more

A Tale of Two Cities (cont'd)

I am bilingual by matter of birthright. When I started in kindergarden I only spoke Spanish. Knowing two languages has its advantages. I'm sure you, dear reader, agree. But what does one do when someone needs help and doesn't speak your language? This happened to me while driving the bus in Los Angeles and then also here in Austin.

It was Saturday morning in the spring time and I was driving the 480 route in L.A. I was at the layover point on the west side of downtown, just pass the financial district. An elderly couple, who, as it turned out, were visiting from another country. They became lost and came up to my bus for help. The man started talking to me and all I could think was, "Oh, no. They only speak Italian. The man continued talking to me, friendly, but I could not understand. And then the lady started talking to me. I remember thinking how beautiful their language sounded. Like music, it had melody and rhythm. Suddenly I realized I knew what they were asking me. I also realized I had put up a wall as soon as I heard the foreign language. A lot of the words were so close to Spanish that I could make out what they were saying. I thought to myself, "I bet if I speak Spanish they will understand me." I said something in Spanish and sure enough it worked. They started talking faster and I paid close attention. I spoke Spanish to them and they spoke Italian to me and we were able to have a conversation. I was able to help them find the place they were looking for.

Believe it or don't, three years later that exact event happened again, like a rerun on t.v. Again it was Saturday morning in spring time. Only this time I'm driving the number 1 route in Austin. I stop to pick-up passengers on the drag in front of the co-op. Again an elderly couple come up to me for directions. And they only speak Italian. But this time I just go right into it. I talk to them in Spanish and I see their worried look disappear like magic. "It's a small world after all."
Read more

Monday, July 20, 2009

Texas! Bringing Healthy Back

Capital Metro's healthy cafeteria is featured in a new video campaign from the Texas Department of State Health Services about preventing obesity. Here's the excerpt that highlights Capital Metro.

Capital Metro was selected for the video because of our award-winning workplace wellness program that is fostering healthy lifestyles among our employees. Fox 7 News aired a story about our wellness program in June.

The Texas! Bringing Healthy Back video is part of a new obesity prevention campaign sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services. According to the Texas! Bringing Healthy Back Web site, one in three Texans is obese.

Incidentally, riding public transportation can be a part of a healthy routine, since it generally goes hand in hand with walking and bicycling (and makes you feel good about saving money and the environment).
Read more

Saturday, July 18, 2009

First Public MetroRail Ride

Today about 200 people got to ride Capital MetroRail as part of our testing. It was the first ride offered to people outside of Capital Metro, except for the news media, and so it was an especially happy event for us.

Today was the second of two days of passenger simulation testing. The engineers got a feel for how the train handles when it's full, as well as practice boarding and deboarding passengers at the stations.

Yesterday, Capital Metro employees played the part of passengers and got on and off the train at each station along the line. The staff were testing the timings of the stops in relation to the full schedule.
Read more

Friday, July 17, 2009

Capital MetroRail Progress Report

Capital Metro is releasing its July progress report today. It's an anticlimactic report--we're not announcing a date just yet. Still, things are moving along. The full report is behind the jump.


Capital Metro continues readying the MetroRail Red Line for a safe launch into full-service operations. The project is still in the final comprehensive operational testing phase, during which every component is tested in conjunction with the whole to validate the safety and consistent operation of the system. As Capital Metro staff discovers and resolves issues within this phase, we have also completed the detailed documentation work that will ensure smooth operations when MetroRail is in full-service.

Capital Metro staff and partners are also using the additional time to redouble their rail safety education efforts. While Capital Metro is not ready to announce a new opening date yet, the community will appreciate the extra efforts being taken now to ensure their safety both on and off the tracks.

Milestones Completed Since June 19

  • Made adjustments to all crossings as needed to function as designed and improve reliability.

  • Identified resolution to gate timing issue at the following crossings near the Kramer, Crestview and Highland Stations: Kramer, Braker, Lamar, Guadalupe, Denson. Resolution will adjust the amount of time gates are down when trains stop at nearby stations.

  • Traffic signal preemption is complete and operational at these crossings, pending final optimization adjustments as needed:
    o 4th Street & Red River
    o IH-35 SBFR (near 4th Street)
    o IH-35 NBFR (near 4th Street)
    o IH-35 SBFR (near IH-35 lower deck)
    o 45th Street
    o 51st Street
    o 53rd Street
    o Denson Drive
    o Guadalupe Street
    o North Lamar Boulevard
    o Anderson Lane
    o Crystal Falls Parkway
    o FM 2243
    Signal preemption technology provides enhanced safety at crossings adjacent to intersections by turning traffic lights green and allowing traffic to clear before gates are lowered.

  • Completed train engineers’ preliminary comprehensive contingency training.

  • Completed comprehensive software inventory and documentation process for the entire system which will result in easier identification and resolution of any issues that may arise.

Remaining Milestones

  • Complete full-service test runs to adjust and finalize rail service schedules.

  • Complete train engineers’ final comprehensive contingency training, including passenger simulation tests (scheduled for July 17 & 18).

  • Complete final signal technology adjustments and enhancements.

  • Conduct final system validation. This process ensures consistent and reliable operation of all components working together.

When will service begin?

Capital Metro will announce an opening date when the entire rail system is demonstrated to be operating in a consistent, reliable and safe manner. We will report back to the community in mid-August. We will continue rail safety outreach efforts during this time to increase awareness about trains and prepare the community for MetroRail.
Read more

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shorten your (single occupancy) commute; catch a bus at Tech Ridge Park & Ride

Northeast Travis County residents will have improved access to Tech Ridge Park & Ride when newly constructed segments of Heatherwilde and Wells Branch open this week. Both Travis County roadways will include sidewalks and bike lanes.

Tech Ridge Park & Ride serves as the northern terminus for routes serving the busy North Lamar/South Congress corridor (#1L/1M and #101), East Austin (#135), and UT/Downtown (#935). It also facilitates many transfers as the endpoint for Routes #243 Wells Branch and #392 Braker.

Tech Ridge P&R route map
Community Impact article
Read more