Riding MetroRail

A smooth ride this morning

Riding MetroRail
photo by Lee Nichols

We tried out MetroRail this morning, from the Convention Center to Crestview Station – it proved a smooth ride. I felt like I was traveling in Europe. (MetroRail starts regular service March 22.) Chatting with Capital Metro interim CEO Doug Allen, we discussed how to get the Downtown stop two blocks closer to Congress. Here's one idea.

As discussed at the "Congress Avenue Experience" event, recently put on by the Downtown Austin Alliance, it would benefit Austin Urban Rail to get the MetroRail Downtown stop moved further down Fourth St., so it's closer to Congress Ave. – where the city line would run.

CEO Doug Allen mentioned they're still planning to move the Downtown stop on Fourth Street two blocks further west, to Brazos, so that it's only one block from Congress Ave (Instead of three blocks away, by the Convention Center, where Downtown stop is now.)

The only thing stopping them is funds. The estimated cost to get the two blocks to Brazos is a whopping $25 million. (That's largely due to the cost of major utility relocations.)

According to Google Earth, the planned extension to Brazos would require extending the line about 834 feet (from current center of platform to likely future center of platform) – or 10,000 inches.

$25 million, to extend the line 10,000 inches, comes to $2500/inch. That's expensive!

Still, could DAA businesses partner with CapMetro to raise the funds? Get 2,500 donors to chip in $10,000, or 10,000 donors to chip in $2,500.

It's $70/month for a MetroRail Pass, so $2,500 is equal to 3 years of passes. Sell symbolic lifetime passes, perhaps?

Better yet, get the city and the utilities to just pay for the utility relocations, in exchange for letting their employees ride MetroRail for free. The city is actually looking at ways to help its 10,000 employees choose more sustainable transportation modes. Somewhere in there, a synergistic funding scheme lies …

Allen listened, and laughed. And then it was time to disembark.

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