CapMetro Announces March 22 Opening for MetroRail

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Exciting news for transportation progress in Austin today, as CapMetro announced that the long-awaited Red Line would officially roll down the tracks on Monday, March 22. This is a pretty exciting development, given the delays that the project has encountered over the past years.

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez, the new chair of the Capital Metro Board, released a comment on his website (and his Twitter feed) about the launch. Salient paragraphs excerpted below. You can read the full statement on the blog on his officeholder website.

MetroRail to begin March 22, 2010

The new board at Capital Metro has hit the ground running, and we are committed to working tirelessly on behalf of our communities to realize the mission of our organization. Our mission statement drives us to “provide high-quality, customer focused, effective and efficient transportation services and systems for our communities.” To get our agency to the place we all want it to be, we must also gain the necessary community confidence that has not always proven to be there for us. If we strive to fulfill our mission statement exactly as it is stated, I believe that community confidence will follow.

We are all very aware our transit agency has a history with particular issues, and they tend to be the mainstays of people's perception that linger over our heads – a lot of which is not good. We cannot and will not shy away from our past. We must accept and embrace who and where we are today, learn from our past struggles, challenges and success, and move forward in our desire to make Capitol Metro the premier transit agency in the country.

Beyond rail, we have already begun making decisions to improve in strategic areas by creating a more active, involved board with new sub-committees to ensure a more direct interaction by board members on an ongoing basis and to create a more transparent decision making process. We have created a rail operations subcommittee to ensure MetroRail's success, a labor relations subcommittee to help relieve the strain from past negotiations, and an executive search subcommittee to spearhead the nationwide search for our next General Manager. We have also maintained the two existing board subcommittees – audit and finance, as well as operations and planning.

Without a doubt, our community demands and deserves a transit agency that is reflective of a world class city. I believe MetroRail will help us achieve that vision for our transit agency. Rest assured, there is no one on this board, nor within the agency, that believes otherwise. As we move forward, we will work on both short and long terms goals simultaneously, as one should not forsake the other. We no longer have the option of pitting one issue against another at CapMetro. It serves no purpose and does nothing to move this agency forward. I am confident with a new, engaged board and new executive leadership, CapMetro is on the road to success so that we can become an agency that not only earns the public trust, but also commands national respect.

Martinez has really hit the ground running since taking over the CapMetro board chairmanship. The previous chair, County Commissioner Margaret Gomez (recently victorious in a primary challenge to her seat) was not widely regarded for her leadership on that board. It is great to see him being so transparent about his leadership of the CapMetro board, and working hard to achieve tangible reports.

Consider this a good sign for the health of CapMetro, and hopefully a positive harbinger of things to come.


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.


  1. If only…
    If only this were progress; it's actually likely the end of rail transit in our city for a generation or more.

    Existing express buses (and even in one case the local bus) are demonstrably faster than the Red Line will be, because essentially everybody will need to take a shuttle-bus (to get to UT, the Capitol, and most of the office buildings downtown).

    Capital Metro chose to do commuter rail instead of light rail because it was easier – never mind the fact that essentially nobody works within walking distance of any of the stations for this thing.

    Same mistake Tri-Rail made in South Florida in the late 1980s.

    Same thing I've been warning about since 2004.

    We're about to learn whether suburbanites can read their watches (I'm betting they can); whether people who won't ride the bus today will ride the bus if you call it a shuttle (I'm betting they won't); and whether voters will give you another chance with urban rail after fence-sitters look at this POS and declare “rail doesn't work”.

    One would think after six years on this, a mention or even a link might have been nice.


  2. metro
    It would be nice if it went to where the most people are:

    UT and the State Govt. complexes….

    Since it doesn/t, it would be nice if there was an easy, frequent bus connection from it to those places..But, no they cancelled the Dillo, didn't they.

  3. Train to nowhere
    I noticed that myself when I looked at the rail line. As m1ek pointed out CapMetro pulled the “existing rail line” trick and avoided dealing with a lot of issues that face transit systems  wanting to do rail lines today. The cost and disruption of a rail system is so great you can't afford to do the right thing.

    San Antonio is exploring a rail system, albeit a street car system. For the 2 miles planned, it is expected to cost $90 million. What's worse is that the street car system won't really serve anyone. I live in the downtown area and commute to the Medical Center area like over 50% of the downtown residents. Will this serve us? No, it serves people along Broadway to King William and doesn't even come close to any major business hub (BTW, for those who think downtown San Antonio is a major business hub come visit us again).

    I'm beginning to think the days of good city planning are gone.

  4. just agreeing with the general sentiment
    The Metro Rail is only going to run during rush hour – well, it is kinda near where I live but won't take me to work. In fact, if the testing is any indication, it will be an impediment to my commute. Yay.

    I saw a News8 story on the Rail that had 1 person saying that the schedule had never been realistic to begin with…. I may be remembering this wrong, but wasn't one of the delays because shortly beore one of last spring's opening dates, they suddenly remembered that people needed training??? They should have been doing training all along, so that isn't a valid reason. Obviously there were other problems, but that one always bugged me.

    Anyway, I wish them well, but I won't be using the Metro Rail. Doesn't go anywhere I want or need to go, and runs at times I'm busy doing other stuff.

  5. Austin behind?
    I can't believe Dallas and Houston had light rail lines before Austin. Is Austin lagging behind in its progressive weirdness? 🙂

    I can't speak for Houston, but the Dallas lines do go somewhere. Sure, they don't service everyone. But they service those who live and work near them. I have also used it to avoid spending $15-20 to park at the American Airlines Center. A $3 roundtrip and being let out at the the AAC's door sounds better to me. I've noticed on my Red Line trips it is used quite a bit in the middle of the city into downtown and southward. Not so much in the northern burbs, but it is what it is. The new Green line into Carrollton that will connect to a DCTA line to Denton will serve even more people.  

  6. Keep expanding the rail.
    We are learning lessons from all of these various stabs at rail. Sure we can do better, but we can't stop now. Yes it's true it will make traffic unpleasant when we start tearing up the drag to put a train in, but it's an investment.  Ultimately we need to get rid of a few lanes and create some traffic headaches in the short term, so in the future less cars need to be on the road.

    Not to mention the jobs created by large scale public infrastructure projects, but who cares about jobs?

    If a city like Amsterdam can have trains, bike lanes, pedestrians paths and cars run through their much older and more narrow streets… below sea level and over canals, then we can do it here in Texas.

    Even if our various municipalities make different choice about what works for them locally, we can connect them and make it work. One of my favorite things about Berlin is the integration of East and West Berlin's transit systems.  

    Honestly it's shameful that China has faster trains than Texas, and that European cities have effective mass transit and we don't. Everything is bigger in Texas except for our vision for transportation. That does not seem very Texan.  

    • Red Line FAIL
      Thanks to the Red Line, we will likely not see rail on Guadalupe in front of UT in my lifetime – the justification for taking a lane on that corridor rested on picking up forty thousand or so passengers, from BOTH frequent service out to the burbs on what's now the Red Line's northwest 2/3 of service AND the urban areas like the Triangle and Hyde Park.

      With just one (or with forcing a transfer from the Red Line to light rail at Lamar/Airport), ridership is likely too low to make this happen.

      I've only been talking about this for six years. Maybe you missed it.


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