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The Buses Aren't Empty, Part VIII

Dear libertarian ideologues: If you mainly see buses on the ends of their routes in the godforsaken burbs, and they're NOT empty, Capital Metro would be doing something wrong. Morons.

The right place to measure ridership is along the whole route - but if you have to pick just one spot, pick somewhere in the middle and you will invariably find a very different story than the typical suburban idiot narrative of "the buses are always empty". Try standing-room-only, at least in the morning rush. (I took the 2-bus trip to my awful new office twice in a row in late March and on both mornings, I had to stand on the #5; I never wrote up the TFT because I was too busy, but maybe I ought to).

And, dear disabled friends, media coverage of our very low FRR ratio thanks in large part to your gold-plated taxi-limo service is eventually going to kill the rest of the system - which will also kill your golden goose. Think long and hard about what you do next.

Also, dear bus-riding friends, if you keep opposing modest, long-overdue fare increases, sooner or later the majority of voters (who, sad to say, don't ride the bus) will cut the sales tax support, one way or another. You may think people like you are the majority - but there's 5 people who drive and never take the bus, not even once a year, for every one of you. Seriously.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Empty Buses , Funding of Transportation , I Told You So , Republicans Hate Poor People , Republicans Hate Public Transportation , Republicans Hate The Environment , Texas Republicans Hate Cities , Transit in Austin , Transportation


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Man, they should publish those half-empty routes so we know which buses to take!

Dear Capital Metro, if you continue to ignore the fact that the Austin area's expansion is not all to the north, and if you continue to put all of your efforts into a boondoggle of a commuter rail program rather than to expand bus lines out to people who would like to use them (like, for example, me), you will squander what little public support you have left. Try and get a fare increase passed after that happens.

I think I've said this before, but if not, please listen: if Capital Metro runs buses out past a certain level of density, the buses actually WILL be empty (like the libertarian wankers always accuse them of being). That's an incredible cost to bear for those who chose a life of low-density sprawl; and many of those areas they'd be driving by aren't even in the service area (i.e. aren't paying taxes).

Absolutely, Mike, you have said that before. That doesn't change the fact that Capital Metro is putting all its eggs in the commuter rail basket, and they seem not to care about making even little changes to facilitate riding.

For example: you know I'm just out of range of reasonability of riding the #3 (because I've said that before as well). The #3 begins near a mostly empty parking lot (former Albertsons). Why couldn't Capital Metro make some sort of arrangement to use part of that lot as a mini-Park-n-Ride? This is not asked rhetorically, so if there's a good reason why this is not feasible, I'd love to know, since that's more feedback than Cap Metro gives me.

(Given your previous comment, I won't even ask why they don't develop a Slaughter Lane crosstown route...)

They have deals with lots of parking lots for use as park-and-rides; I would actually recommend you call them and try to get through to them on this one. They can't do this overnight; there's substantial negotiations required; but they've done it before. (They even got a semi-permanent park-and-ride at the Triangle, for instance).

Of course, the owner of the strip mall can just say "no", and many apparently do. There's not a lot of upside for them if you think about it (unless Cap Metro pays them rent, at which point it's probably a non-starter).

As for Slaughter, yep, you guessed it. There's no future in running a bus which might have one person on it, on average (not the one person at the very very end of a downtown-centered route most suburbanites complain about which actually averages a load of 10-15 people, but one person on _average_).

As for rail, BTW, the problem isn't too many eggs in that basket; it's actually too few eggs (or too small a basket). For instance, the 2000 light rail plan would have provided service with capacity and performance that would justify redirecting some bus routes to train stations out northwest and eliminating some others, allowing those buses to be used elsewhere in the city.

Commuter rail is so awful that it's requiring additional buses to service, and the existing semi-parallel service must continue. The performance is bad enough, but the capacity is even worse (2000 per day, maximum).

LRT in 2000 projected 46,000 riders per day, for comparison's sake.

So rail isn't the problem. Shitty serve-the-suburbs-but-not-the-urbs-commuter-rail is the problem.

Well, yeah, that's what I meant. (hence my saying "commuter rail")

And I know they're estimating only 1000 riders per day when they start, but my instinct tells me they'll get a lot of curious riders the first week (along with Ben Wear, Bettie Cross, Kate Weidaw, and Quita Culpepper), and then ridership will plummet to about 400 a day, tops.

And the calls to remove the ΒΌ-cent sales tax they get will start four months after the commuter rail begins its operation.

No disagreements with any of that - I just wanted to applaud the effort to actually get the one-fourth character in there ;+)

I was sent this link simply because it references my organization, the Bus Riders Union of Austin, Texas. I haven't read all of the post and comments, but I'd like to talk about our recent proposal for free and faster buses vis-a-vis your post.

The common fallacy is that higher fares = better service. That's not the case since at least half (if not all) of the money collected in fares goes to just pay people and maintain fareboxes that count the money. In addition, other departments, like marketing, could be easily cut since their goal is to increase ridership. However, fare-free policy is proven to be the most effective policy to increase ridership, bar none.

If you read our plan at www.busatx.org/farefreeproposal, you'll see that the plan provides for a net *gain* in hard money, and it could also provide such other huge benefits like avoiding non-attainment status (meaning cleaner air) and increased productivity.

It's a pretty solid plan that we spent several months on. I have one gigantic favor to ask: before any bile is spewed at us, JUST READ THE PROPOSAL. More often than not, we've had responses from baseless assumptions about fares and ridership, etc. Just read it, then say whatever you want.

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