Capital Metro reports ridership gains for 16 consecutive months, sees MetroRail numbers return to preconstruction figures

For nearly a year and a half, Capital Metro has reported monthly ridership gains. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
For nearly a year and a half, Capital Metro has reported monthly ridership gains. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

For nearly a year and a half, Capital Metro has reported monthly ridership gains. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

Capital Metro, Central Texas’ transit agency, released its January ridership numbers, which showed systemwide, year-over-year gains of 8.14% as compared to January 2019.

That makes 16 consecutive months of increased ridership for Capital Metro, as reported by agency President and CEO Randy Clarke. The agency provided an estimated 2,586,083 trips in January, about 195,000 more than in January 2019.

“For 16 months in a row, more @CapMetroATX customers are choosing better, sustainable ways to get around,” Clarke tweeted Feb. 12.

The numbers released by Capital Metro are also broken down by mode and show the largest increase, aside from special events and the new Pickup service, is from MetroExpress, the commuter bus service that runs through Northwest Austin and Leander. That service saw a 24.3% year-over-year increase in ridership in January as compared to January 2019.

Last month, ridership on MetroBus increased 7.92% to about 1.9 million rides, and MetroRapid bus ridership rose 8.17% to about 428,000, according to estimated January figures from Capital Metro.

On MetroRail, ridership declined 0.33% from December to January,, but Dave Dech, the agency’s vice president of rail operations, told Community Impact Newspaper that the monthly ridership of 60,907 still represents an increase from mid-2019.


Last year, the agency noted a significant drop in riders because of the closure of the downtown station in June for construction of its new permanent station adjacent to the Austin Convention Center. Train service stopped at Plaza Saltillo in East Austin and riders would then be bused into downtown.

“When we started the shuttle buses, we saw a 30% drop-off in our ridership,” Dech said. “When we opened the temporary station [in November], we saw the ridership numbers start to slowly come back.”

Dech said he expects ridership to continue increasing in 2020 after the agency resumed Saturday rail service in January and added two midday trips and an evening trip to the schedule.

“That late evening trip, the 7:17 departure—we have really seen that organically grow,” he said, adding the agency has seen about 5-10 new riders per week on that trip out of downtown Austin.

He said Capital Metro also does not have plans for any major service disruptions of MetroRail in 2020, although the agency continues to look into ways to further maximize MetroRail service within the new constraints of positive train control, a federally mandated safety system. PTC construction is expected to continue through the summer, according to Dech.

PTC safety systems do not allow trains to operate too close together. During peak periods, Dech said Capital Metro would operate trains eight minutes apart.

"Right now, they’re at 12 minutes apart,” he said. “That’s as close as we’re comfortable putting them.”
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.



MOST RECENT

Austin, Travis County and Austin ISD officials gathered Sept. 24 to discuss local resilience planning. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin, Travis County, AISD look to build collaboration on community disaster hubs

The governments and school district are looking to grow a network of facilities that can provide resources to residents amid weather emergencies.

Screen shot of Desmar Walkes speaking at a press conference
Austin Public Health eyes possible shift to Stage 4 guidelines

Local health leaders said they want to see the current downward trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations persist before making any changes.

Kyle City Council voted 6-1 and approved the new citywide trail master plan that will utilize 2020 bond election funds for trails that will help connect Austin to San Antonio. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI Nation roundup: Perfect Game coming to Cedar Park; Kyle City Council approves trail master plan to connect Austin to San Antonio and more top stories

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

Domain Northside rooftop mural
New rooftop mural debuts and 4 other Impacts to know in The Domain and Domain Northside

Read here to learn about new restaurants and businesses in North Austin.

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD superintendent lays out barriers to receiving emergency funding

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said while it seems that the district has received "millions and millions," it has been able to use a fraction of granted emergency funds.

Austin is one of five cities worldwide included in the company's new integration. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Electric scooter company Bird will now show available Capital Metro bikes in its app

Riding a scooter this weekend? Keep an eye out for Bird’s new integration with Capital Metro’s bikeshare.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; former Round Rock Steak N' Shake to become Whataburger and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Kevin Foster, an Austin ISD board trustee, alerted the board Sept. 23 to his concern about a police response at LBJ Early College High School last week. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustee questions police response after hoax 911 call

After a large police response to a falsely reported school shooting last week, one member of the Austin ISD board of trustees is concerned about police scaring students.

Several parents of New Caney ISD students spoke at the district's Sept. 20 board meetings about recent allegations that a student brought a firearm to Porter High School's Sept. 18 homecoming dance. NCISD Superintendent Matt Calvert stressed that no gunshots were fired at the event, and that the district is investigating the allegations. (Wesley Gardner/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI Nation roundup: Round Rock ISD trustees considered for censuring; New Caney ISD addresses allegations of student with gun at campus event and more top stories

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

Now open sign
Archival and preservation agency Monocurate now open in Northwest Austin

Monocurate archives historical photos, documents and stories through material preservation, genealogical research and curation.

Flights between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and London-Heathrow will resume Oct. 13 for the first time in 17 months. (Courtesy Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)
British Airways to resume service from Austin to London in October

The flights will run three days per week and include COVID-19 safety measures for passengers.