Filed under: Austin, design, go green, politics, travel | Tags: Austin commuter trains, Austin light rail, Austin MetroRail, Austin Red Line, Austin transit, CapMetro, CapMetro Red Line, MetroRail, Plaza Saltillo
People usually have lots of nice things to say about Austin. It seems that townies and tourists alike have similar good feelings about the city. They say the people are friendly, the arts & music scene is thriving, and life in general seems to be pretty darn good around here. But there’s one compliment you’ll never hear from either group: that our public transit system is anything worth writing home about.
If CapMetro and the City of Austin has it’s way, that’s all about to change. On March 30th, 2009, Austin’s first light rail train will make it’s way from Leander to the Convention Center on CapMetro’s new Red Line. During the month of February CapMetro is testing it’s 6 MetroRail trains on segments of the track, and today kicked off the first of several open house events scheduled for the public prior to the official start of service. For those of us who have been around since the trains were purchased in the fall of 2005, today’s open house at Plaza Saltillo was a long-anticipated unveiling.
There were plenty of people milling around the Red Line’s last stop before downtown this morning. After years of much discussion about the project, the public’s curiosity had clearly peaked. Till today the plaza was a creepy ghost town. No people, no train. Just an empty depot. Today the last piece of the train station puzzle had been placed: one $6 million dollar diesel-electric train. For the first time in years, Plaza Saltillo didn’t seem so creepy anymore.
There are 8 other similar ghost town depots along the red line, and many of them plan to hold their own open house events in the coming weekends. Check out CapMetro’s website for a full list of stations and open house details. While you’re there, check out the proposals for future commuter rail lines. It’s an exciting time for Austin transit – if you’re in favor of the movement, go out and show your support at an open house or by trying out the new MetroRail!