Capital Metro announces service reductions, braces for financial hit

A Capital Metro bus drives through downtown Austin. On March 18, the public transit agency will begin running reduced service on limited routes. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
A Capital Metro bus drives through downtown Austin. On March 18, the public transit agency will begin running reduced service on limited routes. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

A Capital Metro bus drives through downtown Austin. On March 18, the public transit agency will begin running reduced service on limited routes. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Public transit ridership in the Austin area dipped significantly as a result of the city and county prohibiting gatherings with more than 250 people, workplaces encouraging employees to work from home and restaurants announcing temporary closures.

Dottie Watkins, Capital Metro's chief customer officer, told the transit agency's board of directors in a March 17 meeting that on March 16, ridership was down about 40% across all the agency's services.

In an effort to respond to the safety concerns while still keeping service operating for those who need access to transit, Capital Metro announced a limited service schedule would start March 18.

  • Most MetroBus and MetroRapid routes will operate on Sunday schedules. Watkins said a few routes that normally do not operate on Sundays are going to be added. MetroAccess will align with this schedule.

  • MetroRail service will continue its weekday daytime schedule but will not offer late-night Friday or Saturday service. The service does not run on Sundays.

  • MetroFlyer and MetroExpress routes will be reduced to about half their scheduled trips.

  • On-demand pickup service will operate between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.


Capital Metro President and CEO Randy Clarke said the agency should brace for a financial impact due to revenue losses in both ridership fares and sales tax revenue. When the agency was created in 1985, voters agreed to fund Cap Metro in part through a 1% sales tax applied throughout the agency's service area.

"Financially, there is no question ... this is going to be a significant hit for Cap Metro," Clark said. "I think we need to be thinking of this as a marathon, not a sprint. All our posture has been based on that."

Clarke said Capital Metro is set up financially as well as possible, with three months of emergency reserves available. The agency has put in place a hiring freeze to brace for the financial impact, he said.


On March 9, Capital Metro and city of Austin staff presented plans to its board and Austin City Council members with a $9.6 billion plan to expand public transit in the region to include, among other expansions, two light rail lines through the city. Clarke said Capital Metro staff have talked about how the coming financial hit will impact the expansion, called Project Connect, and those discussions are ongoing.

"I don't think there's need to speculate on that yet," he said.


MOST RECENT

The Austin Trail of Lights will open nighly from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31. (Courtesy Trail of Lights Foundation)
PHOTOS: Austin Trail of Lights returns to Zilker Park this week

The traditional holiday light show is open from Nov. 28 through New Year's Eve.

Commissioners on Nov. 22 voted to approve a density change to preliminary plans for The Preserve, a neighborhood that city documents said could include 565 single-family homes at the northeast corner of Teel and Panther Creek Parkways. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Neighborhood near PGA Frisco could see larger lots; ERCOT says Texas power grid ready for expected winter demand and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 24.

Local and state officials have made statements welcoming Samsung to Taylor following the announcement that the city will be home to its new $17 billion semiconductor fabrication plant. (Courtesy KXAN)
State, local officials react to Texas governor, Samsung joint announcement

Local and state officials have made statements welcoming Samsung to Taylor following the announcement that the city will be home to its new $17 billion semiconductor fabrication plant. 

Austin City Council will meet for a work session dedicated to housing affordability discussions Nov. 30. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Austin City Hall notebook: Council set for dive into housing, development after Thanksgiving break

A Nov. 30 work session could see city leaders work through a range of adjustments to city development code, rules and processes.

The new initiative will build the communities capacity to address homelessness along with collecting data from people who have increased access to those in need. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
ECHO, St. David's Foundation launch new program to build a community approach to homelessness

The program aims to address inequities in traditional homelessness response.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sits beside Samsung CEO Dr. Kinam Kim as he announces the company is brining a $17 billion facility to Taylor. (Screnshot via KXAN)
Samsung makes it official: Announcement from Governor's Mansion confirms $17B facility coming to Taylor

Nearly a year after Williamson County officials began pitching Samsung to bring a megafacility to the area, the electronics giant has made it official.

Bill Curci is a chief operating partner for Shuck Me, a seafood restaurant in Fort Worth. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Fort Worth restaurant Shuck Me is fishing- and family-centric; a guide to Houston's 2021 Thanksgiving Day Parade and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 23.

Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County health authority, discusses Thanksgiving safety at a news conference. (Darcy Sprague/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin health authorities remind community of COVID-19 risk ahead of Thanksgiving

Austin health officials warned of a high rate of community transmission ahead of Thanksgiving.

Lizzy and Brandon Simon are running the North Austin location. (Courtesy Lizzy Simon)
Operation Turkey to provide thousands in need with Thanksgiving meals

One local couple is running a North Austin site with the goal of serving 2,500 meals to those in need this Thanksgiving.

Williamson County officials met with Samsung executives at Dell Diamond in January. (Courtesy Williamson County)
For the love of the game: How baseball may have been perfect start for Samsung in Williamson County

The first attempt to bring Samsung to Williamson County relied on a passion for what is considered America’s pastime.

Capital Metro is still deciding if it will put the MetroRail Red Line above or below the North Lamar and Airport boulevards intersection. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Capital Metro moves forward with funding for one of Project Connect’s ‘most complex’ intersections

The North Lamar Boulevard and Airport Boulevard intersection will eventually have the Red, Blue and Orange lines running through it.