AUSTIN (KXAN) - The final weekend of South by Southwest brought a record-breaking weekend for riders on the Capital MetroRail .
"We broke a one-day record for ridership. 7,000 people, 7,000 trips provided on MetroRail this last Saturday," said Capital Metro CEO Linda Watson.
"We expected large crowds. But, we really surpassed our expectations. We added an extra train on the route. And we added up to seven buses in some cases to handle the overflows. And that's compared to adding three buses last year," she said.
"It was a whole lot more crowded than it normally is," said Joe Bailey. "Kind of packed in like sardines."
"It was too much. It was too crowded. It was uncomfortable. People were too close together. Bumping into each other," said Anne Roberts. "And you could smell people's body odors and it was not nice."
But according to Bailey and Roberts, both regular riders of the MetroRail, the trains are even getting crowded on weeks when there are no big events in town.
"In the mornings lately, I'm lucky to get a seat," Roberts said.
Bailey said, "It's normally standing room only on the crowded afternoon ones."
Cap Metro is working on making adjustments to the schedule starting in June, which could help alleviate some of the overcrowding issues.
"We'll be able to shave off nine minutes off the trip time. That's a 15-percent reduction in trip time. And because of that we'll be able to add an additional train to alleviate the crowding that we're seeing on the peak morning and afternoon trips," Watson said.
The City of Austin recently approved spending $5 million to extend operating hours for the Capital MetroRail into the weekend for the next two years. But, the service ends at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, keeping the late-night bar crowd having to find other options of getting home.
"It's always possible that we adjust the schedule to accommodate later trips. But, we have great bus service for the very late evening hours, our night owl service, which provides service through 3 a.m., and we think that's sufficient to handle the crowds. But we can always re-evaluate later," Watson said.
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