Down, down, down.
Don't buy the hype that this was purely due to school either - the two trips I took to the MLK station in early May while school was still in session had 2 people disembarking at 8:25 (train starting at Howard) and 15 people disembarking at 8:02 (train starting at Leander) - and these were the best times (not too early, not too late) - there were probably a total of no more than 30 riders disembarking at MLK in the morning put together. Overall ridership excluding UT is gradually dropping as well.
As for Capital Metro themselves - their response is to take the unused shuttlebuses from the downtown and MLK stations and repurpose them for the Kramer Station, hitting the Domain, IBM, and maybe NI and a couple other employers.
This is, of course, completely useless - nobody who isn't willing to ride the bus to those places today will be compelled to hop the train when it requires another bus ride at the end of the trip - for the same exact reason that relatively few UT people and almost zero downtown folks were willing to shuttle. Don't expect Capital Metro to admit this, of course; it'll be double-tracking that'll solve all our problems after this fails (post in the hopper for later this week).
2012 now. At the earliest. And don't be fooled; this is a direct result of the abyssmal ridership on the Red Line, demonstrated in April as it fell off a cliff even while the bloom was supposed to still be on the rose.
I was actually not going to bother with a blog post on this since this is so demoralizing and I'm pretty damn busy with my real life and (NON-POLITICAL) real job, but two of my facebook 'friends' insist that it's unbecoming to demand that those who have attacked and belittled for all these years sack up and admit they were wrong. I don't take direction well.
From this post in 2004:
The danger here is that a starter line that is bad ENOUGH will completely destroy the momentum among the public (that actually WANTS rail right now by at least a slim margin, in Austin itself). This is what happened in South Florida with a system which is identical in every way that matters to the one proposed by Capital Metro.
From another 2004 post:
The second message, and the one I'll talk about today, is the idea that we can get light rail in the urban core "later" if we approve this plan now. The genius of this message is that it does a fairly good job of lumping opponents like me in with kooky pie-in-the-sky non-pragmatists who are unwilling to get something running on the ground because of the pursuit of the perfect solution.
The problem is that this message is misleading at best, and a lie at worst. The reason to oppose this plan is because it's deadly to future transit operations in this city. IE, not just because it doesn't do enough right away, but because it will actively prevent more effective solutions from ever happening.
Hey, decision-makers? How about we stop listening to the guys who were wrong, and start talking again to the guy who was right? You have my email address; some of you even wrote back once or twice.