Capital Metro Deserves A Fare Increase (NOT!!!!)

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Yesterday morning, the Editorial Board at The Austin-American Statesman posted an entry dated August 23 in favor of the 100-300% (for certain passengers) fare increase proposed by the Capital Metro administrative staff to the Capital Metro board… And last night at their open meeting, the public gave them a resounding NO. It seems not a single supporter showed, or if they did, they were so drowned out you couldn’t find them. Big surprise (really. especially considering the fact that this is the only city in Texas that regularly votes to increase their taxes by voting in one bond or another that results in a property or other tax increase.) Oddly enough, several of the people that did show were in favor of the increase at first, but then they began looking at the way Capital Metro (like all facets of the completely inept local Austin City/Travis County government) wastes money hand over fist and can’t figure out how to properly spend the money they have. (1.8 Million Dollars for “elite” bus stop signs meant to boost ridership? They have got to be kidding! As for improving accessibility at the stops, the majority of them are more than adequately accessible due to the improvements done by the city to the sidewalks. The money would be better spent providing some sort of protection from the elements for the poor souls like myself that are forced to wait 45-90 mins. for a bus. Solar powered fans, LED lighting at night for the poorly lit stops, and signs that accurately reflect the times the buses will be at THAT stop, not the times for other stops along the route, and plastic shielding on 3 sides would be a nice start.)

I still have to stifle a laugh every time I see the signs on the side of the bus, billboards, television ads, etc. with their slogan “Dump the Pump, Ride the Bus.” (or the similar ones touting the coming commuter rail service, which they promised would not result in raised fares or tax increases.) If I could afford to do so, I’d take the stress and expense of driving in Austin any day over riding the bus with its inefficient service and horrible schedules.

The board needs to have a rectocranialectomy (a surgical procedure to remove ones head from ones ass) and see that they’re going to have to do considerably more service wise before the people of this city will consider them worthy of a fare increase. If for no other reason than the fact that it takes hours to actually get somewhere if you have to change buses even once. Hell, it takes me 2.5 hours round trip to go check my mail at the post office. It’s a 4.5 mile trip one-way by car from Barton Heights to the West Austin Finance Unit… That’s 9 Miles round trip, or 3.6 miles per hour. Sure, I could probably walk or bike it faster… but that would mean some major uphill biking and i really don’t like smelling like a locker room, dehydration, or sunstroke… not to mention the dangers of being a pedestrian with the crazy drivers around here. Several times I have even been stranded miles from home because they stop running certain routes as early as 7PM, requiring me to walk several miles down the road in order to connect with a route that is still running or get a ride home or close to home. Don’t even get me started on their Saturday, Sunday, and Holiday schedules.

They badly need to consider a real solution such as Monorail or Elevated Train (I recommend the monorail idea…. it’s completely silent, electric, the pylons can be decorated however you want, it’s pre-fabricated so assembly of the tracks moves at break-neck pace, is above grade level so it doesn’t interfere with the existing traffic nightmare, would require a minimum of right-of-way acquisition, isn’t as affected by the weather, and has a 99.999% safety & reliability record as long as regular preventive maintenance is performed. Actually it’s our only option in Austin since a subway isn’t practical with the amount of rock and the number of building foundations downtown.

As far as I’m concerned, until CapMet is operating every route except the specialty routes 24/7/365 (Yes, Holidays Included) then they not only don’t deserve a rate increase, but they don’t deserve to be collecting Sales Tax revenue during the hours they aren’t in full operation.

Just my two bits… 🙂

</RANT>

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