The current Downtown Station was always intended to be a first step, and we're finally getting close to taking that next step toward a permanent station. The original facility was the smallest, yet busiest of our 9 MetroRail stations. Our goal is to create a great
public plaza that ties together Downtown Station, the Convention Center and surrounding hotels and businesses. The first platform of the new station opened October 19!
A Mobility Hub
While the new Downtown Station and adjacent plaza will enhance the area's public space, its primary function will be to make easy connections between MetroRail and other kinds of transportation. Customers will be able to connect to:
- Local MetroBus service (Route 17 on Cesar Chavez and Route 4 on 7th St.)
- Electric Cab
- Austin's bicycle trails
- With more to come through Project Connect
Construction began in March 2019, and the first stage opened in October (with the full station opening in early 2021). Check back here - as well as on Twitter and Facebook - to keep up to date, and see below for a glimpse:
What It Will Look Like
The station features parasol structures mounted on columns. The pentagonal roof atop each column not only offers a striking visual welcome to downtown, but it also provides overhead protection for riders as they wait for, enter or exit the trains.
Improving MetroRail Service
Another reason we're expanding the station is to let us build out the MetroRail Red Line to expand the capacity of the service. This will mean more customers can take advantage of a service that operates at standing-room-only levels during the morning and evening commutes.
A larger waiting area and improved crowd control operations are essential for the station. Normally, events like SXSW or Pecan Street Festival bring huge crowds to the station arriving and departing in short periods of time, and Downtown Station needs to be able to handle that rush. (Obviously that is different during the pandemic, but the crowds will return.) New waiting and ticketing areas reduce platform crowding during these times, and the tracks are set below street-level so the platform is even with the sidewalk.
Construction forced us to build a temporary station that was in use until the new Downtown Station opened. The first platform is now receiving trains and customers. Riders get dropped off at the new platform on 4th Street, located just west of the temporary station.