Dillo Is Dead – For Real This Time

In Fact Daily is reporting that CapMetro’s board has officially killed the Dillo.   Friday, October 2nd, will be the last day of operation.


About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of TOWERS Realty and publisher of Downtown Austin Blog (aka. "DAB"), spends his time matching remarkable people with remarkable properties in Austin’s urban core. A resident owner in downtown Austin, Jude has served on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.


  1. Yes, the Dillo will be sorely missed by those that used it for a quick lunch trip. “Hey, let’s hop on the Dillo and run to Spaghetti Warehouse for lunch.” It was wonderful, and it ran every few minutes so you could get it into a reasonable lunch break.

    Of course, introducing fares killed it. People didn’t want to dig around for quarters, etc. and it erased that important feeling of spontaneity.

    Essentially the Dillo was a “freebie” from Cap Metro. It wasn’t heavily used (if you call 4,000 riders a month “not heavy”), but it was greatly enjoyed and appreciated by those who did use it. I guess it couldn’t last forever.

    So long, Dillo… R.I.P.

    Ron – Capitol Complex Dillo rider

  2. Oh, and the ‘promise’ made in 2004 (implicit, not explicit) was that commuter rail would cost us $45M, with the Feds kicking in $45M. Since then, CM decided not to even ask the Feds (they likely would have been rejected as the projected ridership for this thing is so low); and the costs have obviously skyrocketed. That’s the reserve impact which wasn’t ‘promised’.

  3. JMVC, the link to commuter rail is that the reserves have declined to nearly nothing, meaning there’s no tolerance now for additional money-losing on the operations side (it doesn’t help that commuter rail is costing money on the operations side too, while not actually generating any fares).

  4. Jude – In general, I agree, ridership and fares are pretty inelastic.

    It’s not the percentage increase (which from $0.00 to $0.50 was technically infinite) but the threshold.

    There’s big difference for the casual “let’s hop on a dillo” rider from being able to ride without thinking about it or paying, to having to pay anything.

  5. Fare hikes and ridership should have a pretty inelastic relationship, within reason. The difference between $0.00 and $0.50 and $1.00, is a big jump in percentage terms, but the vast majority of Austinites could never convince me that increase will break their bank.

    The Dillo is dead because of the route, not the rate.

  6. JMVC:
    Thanks for the post. I know that Dillo ridership has been low for a while, but I am still baffled that anyone thought that eliminating routes and raising fares would INCREASE ridership.

    The main thing riders want, more than anything else, from their public transit system is reliability. Changes and delays create uncertainty which keeps riders away in droves.

  7. A few thoughts…..I work for Cap Metro and ride the Dillo quite frequently. Dillo ridership was pretty abysmal before the most recent changes. In fact, the whole point of the recent changes was to INCREASE ridership by increasing frequency and simplifying the routes. Ridership unfortunately declined further after the route changes and fare introduction, but I would bet you that even if those changes had not been made, the previous Dillo system would have likely faced suspension due to poor performance and necessary service reductions.

    Priller: I am fairly certain that the Dillo has not run on the weekends for quite some time now. Additionally, while Cap Metro has spent quite a bit of reserves on MetroRail, I assure you that not all capital spending has been (or will be) on MetroRail. Capital Metro has also spent lots of money replacing buses, building park & rides, transfer centers, etc, etc…All things Cap Metro indicated it would do in 2004 as part of the All Systems Go! plan (including MetroRail). Not to mention all the projects funded out of 1/4 cent obligations to the City to build some of the Great Streets projects we all enjoy downtown, and a number of other worthwhile projects.

    I too lament the loss of the Dillos, as they functioned (for me) fairly well as a downtown circulator. However, I take solace in knowing that there are several other routes that do almost exactly what the Dillo does – I just may have to wait a few minutes longer, and/or make the effort to consult a schedule. – jmvc

  8. The problem, I think, is that the Dillos were old and needed updating, but CapMetro has no money to replace them with something more efficient. Everything is going into the commuter rail money pit.

    Yeah, Amber, we try to do car-less weekends. Much harder without the Dillo.

  9. This is going to make my carless downtown “errand-ing” much more slow and frustrating.

  10. I’m a big big fan of the idea of good mass transit. But, I walk around downtown a lot and I hate walking past a Dillo – those things belch nasty exhaust. The routes are needed, as are cleaner machines.

  11. They restrict the route, raise the fares and then when ridership inexplicably plummets, they cancel the service.

    This was beyond dumb.

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