A look at Cap Metro’s July ridership gains

photo-11

Cap Metro’s July ridership was 8.9% greater than the previous July. The increases were seen across all bus services, including MetroRapid routes, Express routes to the burbs and the good ol’ local routes. The Red Line actually declined, no doubt due to the disruption of the downtown station due to renovations.

This builds upon the 5.5% ridership increase that Cap Metro experienced between July 2017 & July 2018. That first increase, along with most of the monthly increases Cap Metro has seen since implementing Cap ReMap in June 2018, could in some part be dismissed, since Cap Metro had essentially “bought” them by increasing service hours. Investing heavily in increased frequency and not achieving greater ridership would have been a catastrophe.

However, July 2019 is the first full month where we’re comparing year-over-year performance post-ReMap. So for whatever reason, presented with the same exact service, more people opted to take the bus this year than last. Hopefully that means that more people are giving transit a chance due to the increased frequency.

There’s one very obvious caveat: July 2019 had one more weekday than July 2018, which probably accounts for a couple percentage points of the higher total ridership. There may have been a couple weather differences too, although I’m sure both were miserably hot.

There are cheap ways to do even better

In a video promoting the increase, Cap Metro CEO Randy Clarke said, “Think about what could happen when we get dedicated lanes with something like Project Connect.”

Totz. I hope we do move forward on the ambitious plan for two high-capacity transit routes envisioned by Project Connect. But that likely won’t materialize until mid-way through the next decade, at the earliest. There’s a lot of work Cap Metro and, more importantly, the city, can do to further boost ridership on the existing system.

First, the city must aggressively seek opportunities for bus-only lanes on major corridors. Even small stretches of a road –– such as the new contraflow lane on Guad or the new transit/bike lane on W. 5th –– can substantially reduce the impact of traffic on bus service by helping buses avoid particularly nasty bottlenecks. Neither of the above projects cost much money or prompted armed rebellion, so there’s no need not to do a lot more of them.

And then there’s density. We need a lot more of it. Especially near transit stops.

This is just a sampling of what you get every weekday if you subscribe to the Austin Politics Newsletter. Sign up here to get daily breaking news and insider insights on local politics that you won’t get anywhere else in town.

One thought on “A look at Cap Metro’s July ridership gains

  1. Take note, the “increases” closely follow (and are coincident with) the FREE ridership for K-12. CM is stealing ridership from taxpayer funded AISD transportation to pad their numbers. The extra day is right, but you also need to adjust for population growth. Overall, public transit use was down last year nationally. Without tricks and free rides CM is no better.

    Project Connect is an expensive, obsolete scheme that rewards big rail engineering/manufacturers and sets up turf for powerful developers that will further erode affordability. It’s proffered in the headwinds of rapidly advancing technology and a transportation revolution. We must be progressive and embrace the future, not waste billions on a system that will be scrap metal a decade from now. Fixed Route/Fixed Schedule will ALLWAYS lose out to On Demand/Doorstep to Destination for the convienience and huge time savings.

Leave a Reply