New Year, New Network: Connections 2025 Looks Fresh, but Feels Oh-So-Familiar

After months of analysis paralysis, Connections 2025, Capital Metro’s shiny new transit system, is almost here. I witnessed the board of directors approve the first set of service changes back in November. The new local bus network is slated to roll out in June 2018.

In the spirit of other transit network redesigns, Connections 2025 will transform Austin’s bus network from a collection of downtown-oriented radials to an intuitive, connected grid with vastly expanded frequent service. Capital Metro will become much more useful for non-commute trips; journeys not involving downtown will be much more convenient to take, while weekend service will be largely on par with weekday service.

At least, that’s the pitch. And if you’re a transit rider or public transit advocate, that all sounds like pretty good stuff. Austin clearly needs a new bus network; Capital Metro’s decades-old system is inconvenient and frustrating to use.

But as excited as I am for the new network, it has some flaws that will probably leave it just short of achieving its full potential. I have two main quibbles with Connections 2025, and I think the root cause (as I wrote, awkwardly, last year) is Capital Metro’s consistent failure to engage with its riders and its constituents. Continue reading “New Year, New Network: Connections 2025 Looks Fresh, but Feels Oh-So-Familiar”

2025: the Mistake Capital Metro Shouldn’t Make

Capital Metro’s ongoing Connections 2025 study promises to restructure Austin’s transit network to be more frequent, reliable, and efficient. It’s in the vein of other successful network redesigns, particularly the one in Houston last year. And as with any redesign, it’s been a lightning rod for controversy, as I observed first-hand in the November board meeting. Schoolchildren, those with disabilities, the elderly, and business owners pleaded with the board to reconsider changing their bus routes.

As I have previously noted, I think that 2025 is a mostly good plan. The results of other network restructurings like Houston’s have been astounding, and I’m excited at the prospect of similar opportunities for Austin. And given the archaic design of Capital Metro’s bus network, some sort of ground-up redesign was long overdue. Routes meander slowly in a hub-and-spoke pattern from suburbs to downtown. Service is duplicated, hurting efficiency. Headways are long and inconsistent, meaning a printed schedule is mandatory, even for a route used on a regular basis. To a rider, the whole thing is difficult to decipher and frustrating to use. Continue reading “2025: the Mistake Capital Metro Shouldn’t Make”