AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Starting next week Capital Metro's downtown MetroRail station will be shut down for a while. "We need to get the train traffic out of the way so that we can safely and quickly construct a temporary station and really prepare that site for the future downtown station," said Cap Metro VP of Bus Operations and Maintenance Dottie Watkins.
Watkins is talking about building the new, improved and permanent downtown MetroRail station coming in Spring 2021. "We'll have a shutdown of the downtown station from June until October," Watkins said.
The Red Line starts in Leander and ends in downtown Austin.
So commuters along for the whole ride...how to get downtown is the challenge. "Our regular rail riders will be able to continue to ride the rail at Plaza Saltillo -- the last station that it serves and we'll have a bus shuttle that will take them over to Trinity and 4th Street," Watkins said.
The distance between the two stations is about 6 minutes by vehicle, 18 minutes on foot.
Rachel Foard takes the train into downtown from The Domain area every day. As for stopping short at Plaza Saltillo... "If anything I'd take a scooter but I'm kind of scared of the scooters so I don't know if I'm willing to take that risk so I'll just take the shuttle," Foard said.
Watkins says commuters should prepare for a slightly longer ride when you factor in hopping on the shuttle to get to and from downtown. "We expect in the morning it to take about 10 minutes from the time you get off the train to hop on the shuttle bus and get over to 4th and Trinity. The afternoon traffic congestion is a little bit worse so we recommend that people allot about 20 minutes," Watkins said.
"Yeah I'm thinking it's going to add about 15 more minutes onto my daily commute so like 30 minutes total for each way," Foard said.
Despite the several-month-long inconvenience, Foard says the train is still the way to go. "I feel less stress commuting, as opposed to sitting in traffic in the morning then having to work a full day and then sitting in traffic on the way home," she said.
Cap Metro says they're also adding service on some of the MetroExpress routes so if you'd just rather take the bus from Leander to downtown, you can do that. Also, until the end of this year, Cap Metro is suspending the Saturday MetroRail service while they work on a new safety system.
So this Saturday is the last time to ride the MetroRail on a Saturday this year and it's also the last time to use the old temporary station -- all these changes will start on Monday.