SXSW puts Austin’s transportation system to test - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

SXSW puts Austin’s transportation system to test

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Austin's public transportation system is being put to the test by SXSW.

CapMetro officials are reporting a record number of riders trying to avoid the festival gridlock. MetroRail trains have become a popular rolling venue during SXSW. Planners adjusted the Red Line scheduled to increase the flow of trains in anticipation of more people buying tickets to avoid the downtown gridlock.

"We never know what to expect but we knew it was going to be big numbers," said Capital Metro Spokesperson Francine Pares.

Ridership is way up. Between March 8 and 12 CapMetro logged 20,000 trips -- that's about 7,000 more boarding than what the red line had last year. At times the ride can get a little tight. The trains will stop running mid-night Saturday and there is no service on Sunday.

But those on board Friday, who we spoke with like Jeff Luci and his wife, gave CapMetro good marks for its transportation plan.

"If there were more trains on the weekend would be better even outside of SXSW, but it's nice having every half hour makes it more convenient for the locals to get around," said Luci.

During F-1 CapMetro provided weekend rail service but the extra cost was paid for by a sponsor.

"So moving forward, we are looking at special event and kind of charter type of things for service during special events coming up in the future so we are looking into that," said Pares.

Special night owl buses will be available until 3 a.m. Sunday morning as well as the E-Bus to UT. But catching tunes along Congress is a lot easier than catching a bus. CapMetro closed several stops to reduce the number of buses clogging the city core. Routes were shifted to Lavaca and Guadalupe. On its website, CapMetro has several pages dedicated to transportation routes during SXSW. There is also something new, a Smart Phone App to locate the best option for you.

"These are all of my available options right now," said Joseph Kopser, CEO and founder of Ride Scout.

The free App, which was developed here in Austin, uses smart phone GPS technology.

"If we can do it and show them all the options, buses, car to go, taxis, then they might be able to use their car less or even leave it a home," said Kopser.

This logistics App could have helped music icon and rap pioneer Chuck D during his SXSW visit.

"I got my car towed yesterday, my rent a car towed, so you know it goes along with how this city has grown and also makes its own changes to that grow , because when I first came here it was two blocks, SXSW, now it's the whole downtown area," said Chuck D.

The city does issue extra transportation permits during special events for shuttles, limos and charters. The city has issued seven electric low speed vehicles permits. Thirteen for horse drawn carriages and 52 permits for airport shuttles. But the number of taxi permits are limited to 756. That can make catching a taxi a real challenge especially as the last notes of SXSW are played and parties start to shut down.

LINKS:

To routes:

http://www.capmetro.org/sxsw2013/

Ride Scout:

http://aboutridescout.com/

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