AUSTIN (KXAN) — People can hop a ride on a Capital Metro train later than normal when South by Southwest begins in person for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency’s deputy CEO, Dottie Watkins, announced expanded MetroRail hours throughout SXSW to make it easier for neighbors and visitors to get around the city and avoid what’s expected to be heavy traffic.

“Because of the extra traffic we’re expecting and the additional ridership, we are extending our MetroRail operations,” Watkins explained at a news conference Monday morning.

She said rail service Monday through Thursday will run until 12:30 a.m., while trains will go until 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Another notable change is that Capital Metro will offer Sunday rail service on March 13 during the first weekend of SXSW.

Austin police along with other city leaders warned people about SXSW road closures that could affect commutes downtown, so they suggested public transit as a way to avoid headaches on the roads.

For anyone who may be confused about how the rail system works, Watson said Capital Metro will position “ambassadors” at each MetroRail station to answer people’s questions.

Information is available online about MetroRail’s 32-mile Red Line route, which can take riders to and from downtown to north Austin and Leander. 

Watkins also reminded SXSW attendees that masks remain mandatory on public transportation because of Transportation Security Administration rules. She said the agency will provide a limited number of masks on its buses and trains if someone forgets theirs.