AUSTIN, Texas - Austin's temporary downtown MetroRail station on Fourth Street between Red River and Sabine opens Monday morning.
“All they’ve got to have is their smile and their tickets and we're ready to go,” said David Dech, vice president of operations at Capital Metro.
The downtown station was the smallest yet busiest of the nine MetroRail stations, which is why CapMetro said it was time to redesign it.
“We're very excited to bring them back down here, get them a little bit closer to the end of their commute,” Dech said.
“Makes it a little bit easier. We'll get to save about, hopefully, 5-6 minutes in a commute and so I'll take any amount of time saved I can,” said Gavin Menichini, a MetroRail customer.
In June, the ride for commuters who use the Red Line between Leander and downtown was cut short, leading to a 33 percent drop in ridership.
“It's just more steps to get to the office now. You’ve got to get on a train, off a train, on a bus, off a bus, take a walk,” said Vincent Gutierrez, also a train customer.
“You want to come right down to your destination. It's really just not the best experience to come down to your destination, get on a shuttle… as seamless as we tried to make it,” Dech said.
While construction on a permanent plaza-style downtown station is full steam ahead, the temporary station will serve downtown customers.
CapMetro has also been installing tracks where trains can pass each other so they can run more frequently, and working on other ideas to increase the number of customers they serve.
“We've had a tremendous amount of people tell us they'd love to take the train; it just doesn't leave late enough for them. It leaves too early,” said Dech.
Also Monday, a new 7:18 p.m. train will leave the downtown station, about 30 minutes later than the current last train.
“Sometimes you've got to stay at the office a little late or have a happy hour, or a lunch, or something with some people, and it gives us another option instead of having to take an Uber back that day,” Gutierrez said.
CapMetro said the new permanent downtown station is on track to open in Spring 2021.