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.