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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