Six months after the opening of the MetroRail… Downtown Austin Blog contributor, Nicole Sanseverino, hops on board the Red Line with an update on just how well the $110 million dollar project is doing.
The MetroRail makes its way from Leander to Downtown Austin on 32-miles of existing freight tracks. It’s a commuter rail that runs only during peak traffic hours in the morning and evening. UT students ride for free using their IDs. But, some students don’t even know it exists…
“The MetroRail… I don’t know anyone who takes it,” said one UT student.
According to Cap Metro, less than one percent of the UT community take advantage of the rail. One student who lives in Round Rock says the rail is a convenient way to get to class.
“It’s quick, it’s calm, sometimes I can sleep on it. I don’t get sick like on the bus,” said UT student Anke Sanders. But, she does wish the rail operated at other times during the day. “If it could ran more often especially during weekends maybe to go downtown for dinner or something that’d be ideal,” Sanders said.
If the City’s proposed Mobility Bond passes in November, it will launch an effort to expand the rail. CapMetro approved mid-day service beginning in January, but doesn’t have any concrete plans to increase the actual infrastructure of the rail.
“We don’t have any immediate plans for building more. I think what people would see first would be maybe purchasing more vehicles, expanding these rail stations,” Cap Metro spokesperson Misty Whited said.
After its first six months, the MetroRail is averaging 800 riders per day, but the city of Austin and CapMetro hope that as the population increases, so will ridership.
“We think it’s a great success,” Whited said. “We’re operating very well and efficiently, we just would like to see some more riders of course, but with any new service it takes time to develop that ongoing ridership patterns that you would like to see.”
Despite some bumpy tracks near its beginning, the rail chugs along.