CapMetro riders complain of congestion and long wait times with new MetroRail schedule


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Commuters utilizing the CapMetro Red Line have experienced longer-than-normal wait times and overly-congested cars as they adapt to the new schedule implemented on Sunday.

Commuters riding the rail on Tuesday said they were thrown off by the changes to the schedule and it led to confusion and busy rides during rush hour for the past two days.

Stephen Grant, who lives in Cedar Park, showed up to the Plaza Saltillo station for his previously-scheduled 4:10 p.m. train a few minutes before 4 p.m. KXAN informed him of the schedule push-back and that his ride wouldn’t arrive until 4:35 p.m.

“It’s important for me to get to work on time and not battle traffic,” Grant said as his reasoning for using the MetroRail daily.

Although he expressed disappointment in the schedule change, he shared his approval with the direction CapMetro is heading.

“I do see where they are going and I hope that they are making progressive changes based on the population,” Grant said.

The MetroRail schedule was altered and departure times were spread out to comply with Positive Train Control standards, a federal mandate that uses technology to regulate rail traffic to protect passengers.

CapMetro has until the end of 2020 to add the new technology. These systems monitor and control trains to try to prevent crashes and derailments. CapMetro qualified for a two-year extension to complete the work in 2018.

The 4:35 p.m. MetroRail pickup, which Grant boarded, was shoulder-to-shoulder. Plaza Saltillo is only the second stop out of nine for Northbound commuters which ends in Leander.

One rider said he feels the congestion is overwhelming and that CapMetro has been inconsistent lately.

“The train didn’t seem to be coming always when it said it would or leaving when it said it would,” Matt McCain said.

CapMetro Vice President of Rail Operations David Dech reported three trains were standing-room-only on Monday, referring to two trains during the morning commute and one train in the afternoon.

CapMetro officials said they plan to investigate and research ridership data to figure out how they can improve the current system and schedule for commuters.

Future projects

You still have time to check out CapMetro’s plans for the Green Line. That’s the route that will shape the future of Northeast Austin.

CapMetro already owns the rights to a freight line. The train can run from Downtown Austin to Manor. There is an online open house where you can take a look at the plans. It is available through this Friday, January 10.

KXAN is also awaiting a decision for a potential Blue Line. Over the summer, CapMetro said they might make a decision by this March.

It’s not clear whether a rail line, a bus line, or some other designated transit method is best.

The version for the Blue Line is to run from Downtown, to Auditorium Shores, to Riverside and out to ABIA. It would be part of the transportation bond on the ballot later this year.

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