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Capital Metro: Mass Transit, Mass Confusion

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Over the past 25 years, Capital Metro has come to lose public trust. They've gained a bad reputation from how they've handled their money, employee relations and communication.

Officials with Capital Metro say they're looking forward and fixing problems that have been wrong for so long.

"We have to be looking forward and not continuing to look backwards," interim CEO and President Doug Allen said. "I think we need to be looking forward and looking at what we're doing today and judging it based on what we're doing today."

In 2009 the Texas Legislature made some strict changes to Capital Metro. One of the changes requires them to turn their reputation around.

Mike Martinez is Chairman for the Board of Directors with Capital Metro. He said the problems have piled on top of one another and added "layers" of problems.

"It's very hard to remove those layers. What we are going to try to do is peel all of the layers back and look at all of the ugly parts that we have at Cap Metro and get to work on it right away and turn it around," he said.

News 8's Bob Robuck took an in-depth look at Capital Metro. He found out where most of the problems originated and what they're doing to fix it. Over the next week you'll be able to catch a re-cap of each piece of the puzzle as it unfolds.

As you watch the series, Robuck asks you keep in mind that Capital Metro works for you, the taxpayer.


January 19, 1985 -- Voters approve one-cent sales tax to fund Capital Metro buses running on Austin streets

Later in 1985 – Voters approved service expansion for areas outside of Austin

• Take a more in-depth look at how Capital Metro has evolved over the years.

1989 – Capital Metro Board of Directors voluntarily lowers sales/use tax to .75-cents

1995 – Capital Metro Board of Directors reinstate one-cent sales/use tax

1997 – FBI investigates Capital Metro

1997 – State Comptroller John Sharp audits Capital Metro

May 1997 — Texas Legislature changes structure of Capital Metro Board

2000 – Voters turn down light rail

• View more about how Capital Metro has managed the rail and where it stands today.

2004 – Voters approve Capital MetroRail

2005 – Union strikes against StarTran over contracts

• View more on how labor relations have been over the past years at Capital Metro.

2007 & 2008 – Union strikes against StarTran over contracts

Fall 2008 – Original Capital MetroRail start-up date

2009 – State approves legislation to change structure of Capital Metro Board of Directors

• View how taxpayers and lawmakers are trying to get Capital Metro back on an efficient, productive path.

2010 – Capital MetroRail service expected to be up-and-running by first quarter

2012 – Capital Metro Rapid Bus service expected to be operational
• View more on Capital Metro's problems with communication.

It's important to note that Capital Metro has undergone many changes. These changes have mostly been recent.

Capital Metro has completed their self evaluation. Now the Sunset Commission will be conducting meetings and hearings with the agency. They'll come up with a plan Capital Metro must implement to help with fixing issues internally and externally.

The Sunset Commission recently reviewed Houston's mass transit system. Lawmakers said the move has increased their transit system's operations greatly.

As of January 2010, the structure of the Capital Metro Board of Directors changed significantly. They're looking to get the rail back on track by the first quarter of 2010.

New requirements for the Board of Directors

    • Eight members
    • Reduction in number of elected officials
    • Requires professional experience for some members
    • Three members appointed by Capital Metropolitan Planning Organization(CAMPO) (including one elected official)
    • One representing small cities in service area
    • One member appointed by Travis County commissioners
    • One member appointed by Williamson County commissioners
    • Two members appointed by Austin City Council (One must be member of council)

Board of Directors for Capital Metro:

    • Austin Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez, Chairman
    CAMPO elected official representative

    John Langmore, Vice Chair
    CAMPO executive management representative

    Beverly Silas, Secretary
    Travis County citizen representative

    Chris Riley, Member
    City of Austin elected official representative

    • Leander Mayor John Cowman, Member
    Small cities elected official representative

    Frank Fernandez, Member
    CAMPO finance/accounting representative

    Norm Chafetz, Member
    Williamson County citizen representative

    Ann Stafford, Member
    City of Austin citizen representative

Contact Information:

    Board of Directors:
    Gina Estrada, Executive Assistant and Board Liaison
    Address: 2910 East Fifth Street, Austin, Texas 78702
    Email address:
    Phone Number: (512) 389-7458
    Fax Number: (512) 369-6504

    General Capital Metro:
    GO Line: (512) 474-1200
    TDD: (512) 385-5872 (service for persons with hearing impairments)
    Customer Comments: (512) 385-0190
    Lost and Found: (512) 389-7454
    Information Center/Ticket & Pass sales: (512) 389-7475

    Capital Metro Access:
    Reservations: (512) 478-9647
    Information: (512) 389-7480
    Cancellations: (512) 385-1268
    Open returns: (512) 385-1271
    "Where's My Ride" Line: (512) 389-2767
    TDD: (512) 389-3230 (service for persons with hearing impairments)

    Report Suspected Fraud or Abuse:
    Fraud & Abuse Hotline: (512) 385-0371
    Fraud & Abuse FAX: (512) 389-7559
    Anonymous Ethics Complaint

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