Mar 2, 2023 - News

Austin CapMetro CEO Dottie Watkins' best Austin day

Cap Metro CEO Dottie Watkins stands in front of a train.

Dottie Watkins, CEO of CapMetro, pictured in front of the transit agency's trains. Photo courtesy CapMetro

We caught up with Dottie Watkins, recently named CEO of CapMetro.

  • An Austin public school product — she attended Reilly, Kealing and McCallum — Watkins grew up in the business. Her father was a CapMetro vehicle mechanic and she started working for the agency as a part-time driver in 1994 when she was a University of Texas undergraduate.

How would you characterize CapMetro's performance?

​​The bread-and-butter of what CapMetro does is connect people to opportunities, to work, to play, to social events, so they can take kids to the park and get to doctor’s appointments. When our service quality is not great people don’t rely on us. ... A year ago, 3-5% of our service wasn’t being operated. Today, we're regularly meeting our goal of less than 1%.

What challenges does the transit agency face?

Keeping the system moving and safe. A lot of complaints we receive start as quality of life issues, someone sleeping on the bus or loitering at a stop. Those situations don’t necessarily require a police officer. We've hired community intervention specialists with a social service background, to direct people to services — and explain that living at the bus stop isn’t okay. And we've got a public safety ambassador program, where we train civilian employees in conflict resolution.

It's your best day in Austin. Where are you having breakfast?

The Kerbey Lane on William Cannon, with my 8-year-old daughter. I love the buttermilk pancakes and the breakfast tacos.

What do the two of you do after breakfast?

This past summer I fell in love with Martin Pool. It's got a proper deep end.

How about lunch?

We'll head downtown to the Austin Public Library. We can just get locked in the library forever. We stop at the cafe for a nibble and then walk to the lake for the ducks.

How do you like to wind down your day?

One of things I do, my meditative space, is I still play French horn. I've been playing my horn since sixth grade, at Reilly Elementary. I played all the way through the Longhorn Band. While I’m playing I’m fully engaged and not thinking about the rest of things in life that stress me out.
Monday nights I practice with the Waterloo Wind Band. We play free concerts around town several times a year, including at Central Market.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Reilly Elementary School.

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