Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Response to MetroRail Expansion

As I read this article by Shashank Desai, I found myself unable to disagree with his position on expanding the MetroRail. Capital Metro, the company in charge of the city of Austin's public transportation system, invested a large sum of money to get the ball rolling, and they have seen little in the way of profits. Desai is right. Capital Metro needs to find a way to increase the (currently awful) rate at which citizens use the MetroRail.
As he states, the MetroRail is one of the most effective methods of getting from one part of Austin to another, because it is both energy efficient and time efficient. I agree with Shashank in that Capital Metro really needs to emphasize to the public that the Rail has stark advantages over other modes of transportation. In my opinion, one of the MetroRail's biggest advantages is that it never has to compete with traffic. The PR group at Capital Metro needs to start advertising the MetroRail's advantages if they hope to increase consumerism. I recently rode the MetroRail when I went to watch President Obama speak, and it was incredibly efficient. I went from North Austin to 4th street in about half an hour, and it was cheap. Unfortunately, it was relatively empty. We really need to encourage the increased use of this system. Another problem is that nobody actually checks a person's ticket on the Rail, so some people probably take advantage of this and ride the rail for free. With these problems fixed, the MetroRail shows an amazing amount of potential.
Desai notes the importance of the MetroRail's other advantages, such as energy efficacy and cost. He even mentions the important recent cost cut to prices in the MetroRail. He forgot the simple advantage of convenience as well. The MetroRail now allows people to park their bicycles safely at MetroRail stations. If used properly, the MetroRail could be one of the best resources the city of Austin has to offer, but the marketing and execution of this plan has been poor thus far.

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