Austin MetroRail Ridership Stays Low

The City of Austin is spending how much of our tax dollars in a tight economy on a city wide light rail system that continues to have low ridership hovering around 850 daily weekday riders?  The latest report from CapMetro tells a telling tale.

File this under reason 850 that we need single member districts for Austin City Council seats so the voters have a chance of electing some new blood into the Austin political system.  It just so happens that single member districts might result in a gasp, moderate, or even more shocking a Republican elected to the Austin City Council.

Keep in mind that the about 850 average daily weekday riders represents a potential trip to and from home, so that 850 daily riders figure potentially only represents about 425 actual individuals taking presumably round trips on MetroRail.

How low do you think the MetroRail ridership is on the weekends?

Compare the MetroRail ridership to the comparatively successful CapMetro programs below.

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5 responses to “Austin MetroRail Ridership Stays Low

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Austin MetroRail Ridership Stays Low | The Right Side of Austin -- Topsy.com

  2. To be precise, Austin doesn’t actually have a light rail system. Metrorail is essentially a commuter rail system. It runs on heavy grade track, rather than the narrower track or a true light rail system, and it serves a wide catchment area extending far into the suburbs. Light rail generally makes frequent stops within a smaller area.

    Ridership is and will remain low until development at transit notes increases. The fact that the hours of operation are limited also hurts ridership. Ultimately, the cost for this service probably doesn’t justify the return…yet. Development tends to follow transportation, so in a few years the analysis might be more favorable, though public transportation never ever pays for itself. Despite this, the cost for this service is so minimal. The whole system cost a couple of hundred million. Its cost several BILLION to build one station in NYC. But NYC couldn’t be NYC without the subway. Transportation systems define the built environment and if you seek to increase the value and worth of land, you have to build transit systems that promote density.

  3. Zachary,I could not have said it better myself….”public transportation never ever pays for itself” and for a city like Austin a “couple hundred million” is a substantial amount of taxpayers dollars to be spent for no return.

  4. There is a return though, for the 425 people that ride it daily.

    The system is flawed yes, but I believe it to be a necessary step towards the future. Austin metroways are notorious for their congestion. So, why not offer a quicker, cleaner and faster solution to stop-and-go traffic?

    At the rate Austin is growing… we need a metrorail. So, stop whining, by a ticket and climb aboard. The trip downtown is peaceful. And with the extra support, much needed additional stops can be put in place.

  5. Why MetroRail sucks is because its stops are in the middle of nowhere, and it runs without stopping in densily populated areas. A rail system entirely based on park+ride is deemed to fail.

    The investment costs have been relatively low, but I’m pretty sure that in the long run it would be far more profitable to build a low-floor streetcar-based light rail system from scratch, for about $10M / mile (typical cost in West Europe), running from Downtown via UT and the hospitals north from UT to a suitable interchange terminal (most preferably in a place with high density urban planning), where the MetroRail, MetroBus and the streetcar would meet. Naturally the streetcar would need its own lanes free from other vehicles, but that’s not a problem: a 200-passenger streetcar every 5 minutes equals 2400 passengers per hour, and a typical four-lane boulevard can handle about the same number in their own cars. There’s plenty of roads leading to downtown in Austin, just sacrifice one of them for a profitable light rail system.

    With greetings from Finland, EU.

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