Evaluating CapMetro's MetroRapid infill stations

Capital Metro has bids out for 16 infill stations on the MetroRapid 801 and 803 lines. We're excited! The stop spacing on the MetroRapid lines has been too far apart. In AURA's Connections 2025 position statement we called for standard stop spacing every quarter mile. We were encouraged to see additional stops proposed.

However, also in that response, we asked that the stations be brought online as quickly as possible. Riders should not have to wait on construction of expensive “branded” stations. The current stations are difficult to implement due to the need for electrical connections to power their countdown clocks and wireless internet. While these are great amenities, we would rather have the infill stops implemented quickly.

Unfortunately, on and off the MetroRapid lines, Capital Metro has a poor track record of building bus stations that do not protect riders from the elements. The MetroRapid stations were created out of a special design process, but are particularly bad when it comes to shielding from sun or rain—worse than the stations on the regular bus lines.

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In 2016, we published our Transit City report, which outlined AURA's vision for transit in Austin. One of Transit City's calls for immediate in the action was improved bus stations:

Build generous stations similar to those at Houston’s MetroRail and Dallas’s DART rail platforms at Austin’s busiest bus hubs like the 4th Street/Republic Square and West Mall stops by 2017. They should be sufficiently long and wide to comfortably provide shelter to all riders at peak times. Substantially increase the number of stops with basic shelters throughout the city. The design of these shelters must prioritize effectively shielding riders from sun and rain at a reasonable cost so that as many as possible can be built.

Last year, when we evaluated Capital Metro's progress toward the Transit City goals, we found that bus shelters were an area that could still use improvement:

Capital Metro has a new, cheaper design for bus shelters, which will enable the agency to deploy them at many more stops. Unfortunately, these new shelters still do not consistently provide shade or protection for the elements. AURA calls for CapMetro to find a shelter design that can be widely implemented and actually provide basic shelter.

Unfortunately, the bid documents for the MetroRapid infill stations demonstrate that Capital Metro will be using the same "branded" MetroRapid station design for the new stations. These stations are expensive and difficult to construct, meaning riders will have to wait longer for badly needed additional stations. Furthermore, they provide little to no protections from the elements. Riders would be better served if Capital Metro could move to a simpler station design that could be implemented quickly, while providing better shelter.

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