Peda-quette: Tips for Faring Well on Austin’s Mass Transit

An ongoing series about how pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists, and drivers can get along.

Austin has one of the best transit systems for “sunbelt” cities its size in the US. With over 118,000 riders per day, Capital Metro has the highest per capita ridership in the state, and reaches much higher levels of ridership during Austin’s many special events. Capital Metro provides express, bus, paratransit, and commuter rail options to Austin and several of the surrounding suburbs. Austin seems to be regularly looking for new ways to make transit use a more valuable and pleasant experience. But in fact, there’s a very easy way for you – a transit rider – to improve everyone’s transit experience. Just follow a few simple tips.

On the Bus

Generally speaking, transit etiquette is a matter ocapmetro busf common sense. During peak hours, folks are just as tired and in as much of a hurry to get to work or home as you are.

  • Move out of the way:  move to the back of the bus or the middle of the train car; if you can’t find a seat, stand out of the way to allow other riders to enter and exit quickly.
  • Step out of the doorway: at rush hour crowding can lead to standing in the door, simply step out onto the street/platform and allow exiting riders to leave, then get back on.
  • Be chivalrous: it’s not as dead as you think; if you see an elderly person or pregnant woman, offer your seat. They may decline, but it’s important to offer.
  • Seats are for people: we know your backpack is heavy, but put it in your lap or on the floor.  Sharing is part of the transit experience. So get the pack or big purse off the seat next to you.
  • Electronic devices: listening to music (except through headphones) and talking loudly on a mobile phone is just rude and obnoxious.
  • Keep it to yourself: if you have to sneeze or cough, don’t spread the germs; do it into your sleeve or a tissue.
  • Keep it clean: talk as if your grandmother were standing next to you and watching your language. If someone else is using offensive language, talk to the driver. If it is threatening language dial 911.
  • Not allowed: open liquid containers, pets and tobacco products are not allowed at any time on Capital Metro vehicles (although you may be allowed to bring your painting of cigar-smoking dogs playing poker).  Smoking is now prohibited within 15 feet of a stop.

Bicycles 

Cycling and transit make a sweet commuting twosome, just be sure to:

  • ed-on-bikeWatch out when exiting: when you’re getting off the bus or out of the train, you are basically walking out blind; a cyclist may be zipping down the street or sidewalk without you knowing it, so look both ways when exiting — bikes aren’t allowed to be ridden on the train platform, so please think about others’ safety.
  • Transporting your bike: When leaving the bus or the train remember to take your bike with you and for buses raise the rack if yours was the only bike in the rack. Capital Metro buses and trains are equipped with bike racks. The bus rack is external and fits two bikes (some buses fit three) weighing up to 55 pounds; try to get your bike on as quickly as possible to speed up the route. Each MetroRail train is equipped with hanging bike racks located near the entrances that can fit four bikes per car (eight per train). Capital Metro also offers free bike parking at most bus stops and at all Park & Rides.

Cars

It may seem self-explanatory, but it is very important for riders to be aware of cars when exiting the vehicle, particularly buses.

  • Oldies but goodies: assume every driver will threaten your life if given the chance. When exiting a bus, look both ways; after getting off the bus, it is best to wait until the bus continues on its route before attempting to cross the street, as this gives you an opportunity to see if any cars are attempting to go around the bus.

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