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Write on METRO

Mar 22
Houston: A Transit Tale of Two Cities


Houston joins Seattle as the only two cities in the nation to increase bus ridership since August 2015.

That was also when METRO reimagined its bus routes, scrubbing the old routes and designing a grid-like system with buses that arrive every 15 minutes or better.

Before this makeover, METRO's ridership had declined 20 percent between 2007 and 2011. Christof Spieler, METRO board member, told Mobility Lab how three components led to success: frequent buses running every 15 minutes; routes that followed a grid rather than loops; and synching weekend schedules with weekday schedules by putting more buses on the road on weekends.

Spieler pointed out that the new METRO system map shows new bus routes connecting suburban residential neighborhoods to the many central business districts of Houston.

"On just about every freeway corridor, we have HOV and managed lanes that are peak directions," said Spieler, essentially offering commuter buses free access into the city while allowing local buses to operate in the grid system to work, home, shopping, and entertainment destinations scattered throughout the city.

In the first 12 months of the new bus network, ridership inceased by almost eight percent over the year before. In the first six months of FY2016, boardings increased by 3.3. million. SInce then, in the last half of 2016, METRO's ridership has flattened and in 2017, decreased from the year before. In August 2017, Harvey hit and directly impacted ridership.

Has your commute improved with METRO's new bus network? Are you riding the bus or train more frequently? Tell us your experience. We'd love to hear from you.



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Comment Title

Dear Mary,

Thanks for this interesting and helpful blog full of relevant topics to me, one of Harris County's quiet champions of our public transportation system. As a customer, I'm grateful to METRO for the incredible progress it's made in providing quick, easy, convenient mobility to our ever-increasing population. While I NEED to use public transportation to get around, I also CHOOSE to use it when I don't because I find sitting on a bus or train watching YouTube videos on my phone much more satisfying than sitting in traffic in my own car. Examples: I take the #2, 402, 9, 32, and 700 on a regular basis. Just do it.

Thank you. You're doing a great public service. I'm grateful!
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  • System Account
 on 3/23/2018 1:55 AM

Comment Title

How many are unlinked passenger trips? How does that data compare to passenger miles traveled. Do these numbers differ from the numbers before the reimaging of METRO routing? These numbers will give perspective on how and where METRO is truly heading. Passenger counts that were inflated due to elimination of the hub and spoke system need to be addressed properly to see any true benefits. Otherwise this is just a reshuffling of counts made to impress the public.
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  • System Account
 on 3/23/2018 11:13 PM

Comment Title

While I appreciate the changes made to bus routes around the city, what I would really like to see is traffic congestion on I-10 addressed (daily especially during peak times).  I would love to see a rail facility built around Katy that offered commuter rail 7 days a week.  Not only would I use the commuter rail to get to work, it would be nice to be able to take a train to the theater or symphony or sporting events.  Bottom line...traffic congestion on our freeways needs to be addressed.
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  • System Account
 on 3/26/2018 12:26 PM

Comment Title

Having lived in other cities with smaller public transportation systems, Metro does fairly well.  Richard, please understand that Metro has no need to inflate numbers to address the increase or decrease in ridership. These number are true , based on the county Metro services, and the yearly evaluation by the FTA.  Susan, I agree with the rail idea for Katy, however, Katy is not ready, so bus operations will be the resource for now. In addition, Metro does offer transportation to both theater and sporting events, via train or bus. Keep in consideration,  Metro won the APTA award in 2015.  We are the 4th largest city in the U.S.  with the largest bus network in North America.  Check out the website for further information.
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  • System Account
 on 3/27/2018 6:13 AM

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