Transit services rapidly changing

Hannah Jane DeCiutiis

     Getting around the Austin area means decisions. Trains, buses, cars and bicycles are all common options. The city has provided the public with choices for several of these, such as the Capital Metro’s train and bus lines. Texas toll roads have become conventional options in the everyday routes for the citizens of Cedar Park. Often times, these methods of public transportation encounter issues that affect the way they are run and it is time for an update.

     One such update is the change of contracts for the MetroRail operator from Veolia Transportation to Herzog Transit Services. The change came after Veolia Transportation was asked by Capital Metro to complete a set of programming changes to the rail’s signaling system. Issues sprung up between the two companies concerning which company would take responsibility for any liabilities involved with the system. Herzog Transit Services agreed to process all claims with the backing of a $100 million liability insurance policy, under which Capital Metro is listed as Named Insured.

     After Herzog Transit Services was hired, they immediately continued work on the signal system, as well as making a detailed assessment on the track and bridges which called for strengthened  maintenance and inspection procedures. It should come as no surprise that with all of these changes and improvements, the rail was being thoroughly tested and not predicted to run again until the first quarter of 2010.

     “It’s about time,” Sean Knight, senior, said. “They’ve been delaying this commodity for way too long, and disregarding the transportation needs in the Cedar Park area.”

     Those who choose toll roads and buses over trains are affected by much more visible changes. Fare increases on both systems directly impact citizens: bus fare increased to one dollar and TxTag holders are now required to pay $1.55 instead of $1.35. Pay-by-mail recipients on the toll roads are now paying $2.07 instead of $1.80 as of January 1.

     “The toll roads were supposed to be cheaper overall, but it’s not changing anything,” Jay Megehe, junior, said. “All the transportation systems they’re building are just taking too long, and they’re using us to make up for it.”

     These transportation updates can often be a hassle and even be downright irritating especially when it comes to increased fees in hard economic times. However, passengers can be assured the cities of Austin and Cedar Park are doing their best for the safety and efficiency of their patrons.