The Austin Chronicle

MetroRail Progresses; 'Dillo Regresses

By Lee Nichols, July 24, 2009, News

Looking to trim costs, Capital Metro has proposed eliminating Downtown 'Dillo service in October. "The 'Dillo routes represent about 3 percent of total bus service but result in less than 1 percent of total ridership," says Cap Metro spokesman Adam Shaivitz. Ridership decreased dramatically last year when Cap Metro began charging a 50 cent fare to ride the 'Dillo, which had previously been free. "While it was hoped that changes to the 'Dillo routes last year would boost ridership and increase productivity, the 'Dillo routes currently serve only two passengers per trip and just eight passengers per hour on weekdays, both figures among the very lowest of all routes in the system," Shaivitz says. The proposal – which Cap Metro hopes will prevent cuts to more highly used routes, says Shaivitz – is subject to public outreach and approval from the board of directors. As it was announcing the proposal, Cap Metro was also inviting media to watch employees simulate boarding and deboarding of passengers on the new MetroRail system (which would connect with the 'Dillos, if they're still there). Chief Devel­op­ment Officer Doug Allen said the agency is still trying to work out timing issues on its crossing guard arms, but problems have been resolved in all but "two or three" of the remaining gates. Allen wouldn't commit to a firm starting date for the Leander-to-Down­town commuter rail system; asked if some time this year is a reasonable expectation, he said, "I would anticipate that."

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