The bus station for Greyhound is located in North Austin at the junction between the 290 and the 35. There doesn't seem to be much around there. The Amtrak Station is in South Austin on Lamar. It's the 5th busiest station in Texas and had just over 31,000 passengers in 2010. The station seems to be pretty run down and is just a platform with a simple station building. I think for one the facility could use some improvement. There is no checked luggage service, which, I think, limits the train use by long term travellers. Both facilities seem to be far away from each other, and the bus station is honestly a long ways from anything except the Highland Mall. And the Metro Rail station at Highland is somewhat near, but all the way at the far side of the mall from the bus station! So close, but not quite convenient. I think Austin could go a long way to improving the use of long distance bus and train. Right now they just seem to be independant transportation systems instead of part of a complete integrated way to travel to, from, and within Austin.
One thing that kills the use of trains and long distance bus is the so called 'final mile'. Basically these are travelers who have not brought personal vehicles with them. Many times the factor against travelling to a destination by train or bus is the fact that you are unable to reach the final destination, be it a hotel, a museum, etc once you arrive in town. So people in those situations may opt to drive their vehicle, if they have one, instead of taking a train or bus. If you get off the Greyhound bus, you have to use a cab if nobody is picking you up. If we had a bus station in downtown, like a lot of large cities do, I think a lot of travellers could just walk to where they were going or have access to greater public transportation. Also think about the UT students who could use the bus to travel. I didn't have a car most of the time I was in college and when not getting rides from friends or family members and usually relied on the train and bus for out of town trips. The Car2Go is in the downtown area too and can be utilized to get to and from the station. To me the ideal would be that an out of town traveller could get off the train or bus and right away walk or be taken to their destination in Austin quickly and inexpensively.
The addition of some kind of long term parking could also help encourage residents to take the train or bus instead of actually driving the distance to Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio like we often do. This would help reduce traffic along the 35. Or just some kind of integration of these resources into our transportation plans. I think it sounds easier to have a new bus station in downtown than put a train station some place better along the existing track. Or possibly improve an existing Cap Metro Bus Terminal for use by Greyhound and other long distance buses.
I'd like to see more dedicated bicycle lanes separated from vehicular traffic by a raised curb. There is a great article in the link above about how Copenhagen has done just that.
The Night Owl should run every 30 minutes. Especially with the new parking measures going into effect, a greater number of people will be relying on downtown bus service at nights. This would be both a good safety measure and could help normalize bus riding for people who might otherwise not take it. The city could help CapMetro provide this as a pilot service for a year or therabouts.
In transit-oriented development interim regulations, minimum parking requirements are reduced to 60% of what they otherwise would be. However, due to the currently limited schedule of MetroRail vis-a-vis MetroBus, many other parts of the city are currently better suited to transit-oriented, car-free living (e.g. virtually anywhere on the #1 bus route from Oltorf to 45th).
Allow restructuring developments to provide for 40% of their minimum parking requirements through a combination of negotiating mass bus pass licenses for their residents with CMTA and providing bicycle parking. This would create organic, mini-TOD sites wherever developers believe they can attract transit-oriented, car-free residents. Additionally, it would help reduce congestion and provide predictable revenue to CMTA.
If vans were used, it would be cheaper to do routes more frequently. If buses/vans came more frequently, more people would use Capmetro. Besides, most of the time on most routes, there's only enough people in the bus to fill a van. If you have an empty bus or only two people in a bus, it actually is more wasteful of fuel and makes traffic worse because buses are large and slow. A van would use less gas and would take up less space.
Provide street sweeps on heavely used bike routes/lanes on a weekly or monthly basis. Provide sweeps on bike lanes in the downtown area and anwhere that is longer than a 1 mile stretch. Examples are Parmer leading up to Ronald Reagan Hwy to Andice. Provide a calendar with information pertaining to these street sweeps: When & where they were performed, the next scheduled street sweep for that area, upcoming street sweeps (time & date). Give users the ability to nominate other bike lanes & routes for a scheduled street sweep.
Travelling from the Ben White area to Barton Springs Road along South Lamar can be an exercise in terror. Bike lanes are narrow and scattered with debris. Often the lane ends with little warning and cyclists must merge with drivers who aren't paying attention. Drivers become belligerent when cyclists occupy a lane, which is really the safest route along this stretch of roadway. Clean, consistent, and widened bike lanes would enhance safety for both cyclists and drivers and make area businesses more accessible to all.
It's great that Austin is putting things in place to allow citizens to use public transit rather than to crowd our busy streets. I'm not sure, however, why there aren't more bike lines in place to make the use of public transit simpler. Consider adding bike lanes to Lakeline Blvd., Avery Ranch Blvd., etc. and to turn the Parmer Lane shoulder into an official bike lane. If this isn't done, you really have only implemented a fraction of a good public transit plan and won't see the use of Lakeline Station that you could see. Once commuters are in their cars, they're less likely to stop and park to change their mode of transportation. If they can safely ride their bikes, they'd be more likely to take the metro.
A lot of the time I don't use the bus because it's uncomfortable to stand outside in the rain or the cold, not because it's pricey. Making buses more accessible and more hip to use by adding benches (ideally covered) at every bus stop would cost a lot less than a new rail transit system. Adding a bus line map to every stop would make it easier for pedestrians to figure out how to get across town.
Start a public information campaign (or an improved one) about the rules of the road for BOTH drivers and cyclists - adding more bike lanes won't work if drivers don't accept bikes on the roads and cyclists keep riding on the sidewalks.