Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blog Stage 5

Many consider Austin to be a green city focusing on environmental issues and saving the world. An important issue that comes up from time to time is public transportation and its usefulness. Austin has CapMetro, the public transportation provider in charge of operating the bus and rail system. The bus system is vast and easily accessible, the rail system on the other hand, not so good. Today, I will be focusing on this issue. The rail system in Austin, MetroRail, began operation on March 22, 2010 (Source) but it started off slowly averaging only 800 riders per day (Source). So the question is, should Texas continue to expand this system? In my opinion, a city's metro system is only as good as the number of people who use it. In Austin's case, this is almost abysmal. Today on average, there are only 1800 riders per day (Source). If we calculate this, if each rider gets the most expensive single pass, $2.75, MetroRail is only making $5000 per day and less than $2 million per year and this is being optimistic. The construction itself was more than $100 million (Source). In other words, the rail system seems to be losing money fast. The only good thing that can come from this are for Austinites having the ability to say that their own city has a rail system, but at what cost? The metro lines only have a total of 9 stations, meaning a very small coverage area. Their target market is very small and because its relatively new most people might not even know about it. Austin is a very big city expanding across valleys, mountains and hills. The expansion of the MetroRail would costs millions, maybe even more than what it costs to start up and with its current ridership, there is no way that MetroRail could pay for all this even with help from the government.  As for now, it is clear that MetroRail should remain as is and not consider expanding. Austin is a rapidly growing city and transportation is always needed, however the MetroRail should only expand when the demand is high and right now, there seems to be a very high supply but very, very low demand.

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