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

Photo of a doctor with a pregnant woman
Austin health experts warn delta variant could pose higher risk for pregnant women

Maternal medicine doctors across Central Texas have seen increasing numbers of pregnant women coming to the hospital with breathing issues and pregnancy complications as a result of COVID-19.

Wayback Burgers makes cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
6 eateries open or coming to Cedar Park, Leander; Trudy's North Star reopens in Northwest Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, including Tiff's Treats opening in Hutto.

Trudy's Tex-Mex courtesy photo
Trudy’s North Star reopens with renovated restaurant, new menu

The restaurant underwent recent renovations to its dining rooms, exterior dining spaces and bar areas.

Road closure updates graphic
TxDOT to close I-35 main lanes in North Austin late Aug. 2 and 3

Southbound and northbound I-35 lanes will close late at night Aug. 2 and 3 as the state works on new flyovers.

Survey crews will be out overnight along US 183 in Northwest Austin. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Overnight survey work continues along US 183 in Northwest Austin for upcoming roadway construction

Motorists driving overnight should use caution driving along US 183 in areas closed due to survey crews working in the area.

With more information available to the district than in fall 2020, the fall 2021 guidelines are slightly different than previous guidance regarding COVID-19. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Round Rock ISD releases updated COVID-19 safety guidelines

Round Rock ISD releases updated COVID-19 safety guidelines ahead of the fall 2021 semester, which starts Aug. 18.

Austin ISD will offer virtual learning, expecting about 5% of students to apply. (Courtesy Unsplash)
Austin public schools release virtual learning plan

Austin ISD will offer virtual learning, expecting about 5% of students to apply.

student writing on paper
Texas Legislature allows parents to opt for students to repeat grade levels or courses

Senate Bill 1697 is effective for the 2021-22 school year.

Photo of medical professions in a hospital
Health officials warn ICU space is critically low as Travis County sees its 900th COVID-19 death

As the delta variant drives transmission rates up, local hospital systems warn that ICUs are strained.

At Blue Gecko, a Texas Taco comes with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, cheese and bacon. (Courtesy Blue Gecko)
New taco spot opens in Four Points; roadwork for Austin's Zilker Eagle continues and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, including news on when Lou Neff Road will open in Central Austin.

Williamson County data shows there are only 2% of intensive care unit beds available for coronavirus hospitalizations. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Williamson County drops to 13 available ICU beds as coronavirus cases climb

County data shows there are only 2% of intensive care unit beds available for coronavirus hospitalizations.

The Oaks at Slaughter development will have several new businesses opening by the end of 2021. (Deeda Lovett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Shopping coming to Congress Ave.; Pflugerville preps tract near Living Spaces and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area, including news on four businesses coming to Hutto.