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Austin I Told You So Rapid Bus Ain't Rapid

FTA issues report on Austin Metro Rapid

Thanks to Lyndon Henry for finding and posting the link to the PDF.

Some important quotes:

In the Route 801 corridor, the primary impacts of the BRT project were to (1) replace an existing limited stop service “Route 101” with limited-stop service upgraded to BRT standards and new evening service hours, (2) reduce the frequency of the existing local service “Route 1” by half, and (3) add a feeder route at each of the two new terminal stations to provide connections to Route 801 from a wider area.

[…]

In summary, the BRT project had impacts on transit service that were very different between the two corridors in two important ways:

  • BRT MetroRapid Route 801 was essentially a modest upgrade of an existing limited-stop route; in contrast, MetroRapid Route 803 introduced a BRT-standard limited-stop service into a corridor where no limited-stop service had existed; and
  • Service frequencies on the principal local route in the Route 801 corridor were significantly lower “half their former levels” after project opening; in contrast, service frequencies on the principal local route in the Route 803 corridor were only moderately lower after project opening.

[…]

In 2016, two years after project opening, ridership on MetroRapid Route 801 was 5,800 boardings per average weekday. Ridership on the reduced-frequency local Route 1 was 5,700 for a total of 11,500 boardings on the principal services in the North Lamar/South Congress corridor. Feeder Routes 201 and 275 added a total of 1,700 weekday boardings in the corridor, some of which were transfers to/from Routes 801 and 1. The combined ridership on all four corridor routes was 2,400 fewer weekday boardings than the combined ridership of 15,600 weekday boardings on corridor routes before project opening. This ridership loss is attributable to three factors:

  • The significantly reduced frequency “by half” of the Route 1 local service which meant that riders who found the new MetroRapid stop locations to be inconvenient for their trips faced longer wait times for Route 1 buses at local stops;
  • The presence of limited-stop service on Route 101 before the introduction of MetroRapid which meant that MetroRapid was only a modest improvement over existing service; and
  • The higher fare for MetroRapid service compared to the fare charged on all other services both before and after the introduction of the MetroRapid routes.

The result was that MetroRapid attracted only a modest number of new transit riders to the corridor while the reduced local service caused a somewhat larger number of existing riders to abandon transit in the North Lamar/South Congress corridor.

tldr version: The 801 changes caused ridership to DROP in this corridor. The FTA concluded so based on Capital Metro’s own numbers. It’s time for the water-carriers like “Novacek” to abandon their attempts to spin the unspinnable.

And it was easily foreseeable as I pointed out in this post from 2014…