Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Austin’s Cap Metro ponders Saturday service

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Austin, Tex., may soon get weekend passenger rail service on its Red Line, if details with Capital Metro can be ironed out.

The city seeks to expand service by April 1 to all stations within its city limits, including service both Friday until midnight, and on Saturday from 4:00 p.m. until midnight. 

The Red Line at present runs on weekdays between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday service is not envisioned in the proposal.

Austin Assistant City Manager Robert Goode told the City Council that Capital Metro would use the quarter-cent of sales tax revenue it usually sends to the city. “Capital Metro has a quarter-cent program that they had been funding to the city of Austin for transportation projects,” said Goode. “And that was a likely source of funding for this initiative. And that’s the major deal point we’ve agreed to at staff level.”

A vote by the City Council is expected Thursday.

Though hailing the move, one Austin rail advocate tells Railway Age, “The real problem is going to be capacity, given the siding/signal limitation of one-car trains and 30-minute headways, only six DMUs, and platform lengths for only one car. We know from some special events revenue-service experiences that we are jammed so badly that we have to run buses for the overflow.”