Meet Ileana Rodriguez.
She's an architectural designer and an accessibility specialist. Ileana rides METRO to the office, restaurants and wherever she needs to go.
This former swimmer with Team USA Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee, rides the 82 Westheimer regularly. All of our buses are 100 percent accessible. These "kneeling" buses can be lowered close to the street, and they offer ramps. Our trains are also 100 percent accessible.
Ileana grew up in Cuba in the seaside city of Matanzas, known for its beautiful beaches. She swam in the bay and joined the city's swim team. She left swimming to study ballet but at age 13, developed a rare spinal condition that forced her to use a wheelchair.
After her family moved to the United States, a high school coach encouraged her to swim again. She went on to set a U.S. record in the 200-meter breast stroke in 2008. She also earned a BA and MA in architecture at Florida International University.
Watch this short clip on how Ileana gets around town riding METRO. You, too, can discover what's next by riding METRO.
This is a guest post by Darla Bell, manager of Strategic Analysis in Communications & Marketing.
Suddenly the weather screams "summer!" I'm not sure that I'm ready for 90 degrees plus yet, but you can't escape it in Houston. So, get out the sunscreen this weekend; I've got more outdoor events for you. The Greek Fest is a must-do, and I'll be the person grabbing all the baklava. There's also a free outdoor movie, but it's in the evening so should be a bit cooler. For those who prefer their entertainment in air-conditioned surroundings, don't miss the Houston Grand Opera's mariachi opera – the first one in the world. How's that for an eclectic group of events?
You can also expect air-conditioned surroundings when you ride METRO to reach these events. Just hop on the bus or train, and skip the hot walk from the parking spot that's always too far away. Use our Trip Planner for guidance on routes and schedules – you'll be surprised at how easy it is to get around town with METRO. Now, go on; it's time for some fun.
Event: Houston Greek Fest. This event always provides a wonderful time for all. You'll find lots of great food, live music, and dancing – what more can you ask? You can tour the church, shop, and just celebrate Greek culture. Living history reenactment group "The Warriors of Greece" will be there on Friday and Saturday, and the kids will enjoy seeing the group's armor and weapons. Admission is $3 or three cans of food for the Houston Food Bank.
When: Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Where: St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church, 1100 Eldridge Pkwy.
Bus – 75 Eldridge
Event: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The kids will enjoy this adventure film about teenagers being sucked into a jungle-themed video game. This is the 21st century version of the drive-in movie, only you don't bring a car – outdoors on a big screen, but admission is free. Bring your blankets or chairs, and you can buy refreshments. There are activities before the film starts, and the "Flea by Night" market is also open from 6 to 10 p.m. Am I the only one who misses the drive-in's singing/dancing hot dogs encouraging us to visit the snack bar?
When: Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Where: Discovery Green Conservancy, 1500 McKinney St.
Bus – 40 Telephone/Heights, 41 Kirby/Polk, 413 Greenlink Orange
METRORail – Green and Purple lines (exit Convention District Station)
Event: Cruzar la Cara de la Luna. Houston Grand Opera presents a truly unique event, the world's first mariachi opera. The production is bilingual, and it's a moving immigration story chronicling the joys and struggles of three generations of a family divided between countries and cultures. Tickets can be purchased online, and a 10 percent discount is available on selected tickets with promo code HGO365.
When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: HGO Resilience Theater, George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas
*Suggested connections as provided by our Customer Care Center; more convenient routes may vary per individual needs.
This week we honor all the men and women in blue who serve to protect the public.
This is National Police Week, and it's the perfect opportunity to say, "Thank you" to those who risk their lives to make sure we are safe. Here at METRO, we have about 227 uniformed police officers.
"Law enforcement officers and citizens take time this week to remember law enforcement personnel who died in the line of duty – those who paid the ultimate sacrifice while honoring the oath to serve and protect," said MPD Chief Vera Bumpers.
In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memoria Day and the week in which that day falls as National Police Week.
This week, METRO recognized its officers who have performed outstanding service in the past year. Congratulations to Off. Marvin Ledet, in Investigations, who won the "Officer of the Year" award.
This award is presented annually to an officer who consistently exemplifies outstanding and competent service, promotes a positive image, demonstrates professional conduct, possesses a thorough knowledge of the law and has no complaints from citizens or the department in the year he or she is recognized.
METRO's successful Summer of Fun program just got better.
At a press conference this morning, officials announced the program will now include all college students. That means all students – from kindergarten through college – can ride METRO buses and trains for free from June 1 through Sept. 1.
"Last year, METRO distributed more than 13,000 Summer of Fun fare cards to students throughout our region. Our agency works hard to provide great transit, and we're making it easy for students to get on board," said Jim Robinson, the first vice-chair of METRO's Board of Directors.
Sanjay Ramabhadran (Ram), the board member who came up with the idea of free summer rides for students, said if education is the most important thing to young people, then public transportation is a close second "because it gives access to education and opportunity. This program is about making public transportation a part of their DNA and their culture."
Several students from Westbury High School attended the press conference, testifying to the ease and convenience of riding METRO. Yelicza Mata, a ninth grader, said she rides METRO "to go everywhere I need to go – to school, the stores and to my house."
Jeremy Sanders, a senior with plans to attend Sam Houston State this fall, called the program awesome. "Having the opportunity to get something free, it will benefit a lot of us. I use METRO all the time – from home to school to work," he said.
Brandon Kucan, a senior with plans to attend HCC, rides METRO daily. "Free beats anything," he said. "It's extremely useful to me."
Linda Martinez, 15, said she plans to use her free rides to hunt for a summer job or volunteer position.
Ed Bell, marketing coordinator at the University of Houston, said the school is already processing dozens of student Q Cards. "The students love it. My office is getting phone calls. This morning, we processed 20 day passes and 40 Q Cards. We advertise, we have a blog, but when the students on campus talk among themselves, the momentum just builds up. We see an abundance of new riders during orientation."
Students who already have a Student METRO Q® Fare Card are good to go. Starting June 1, tap and all rides are free until Sept. 1. Students who need a card can apply online, by mail or in person at one of our RideStores at 1900 Main St. or 1001 Travis St. At the end of the summer, the Student METRO Q® Fare Cards automatically revert to a discounted card, allowing students to ride for half price.
METRO's Marketing division won five Crystal Awards from the Houston chapter of the American Marketing Association, edging out big-name competitors for the coveted awards.
The 2018 Crystal Awards ceremony at the Bayou City Event Center last Thursday celebrated the brightest and most innovative marketing talent in Texas for work produced in 2017 – an extraordinary year of flooding and snow and a world championship. The Crystal Award is the local equivalent of an Oscar. Not only must an ad look good, it must also produce measurable results.
In the Social Media Campaign: In House category, METRO won for the " Summer of Fun Pass" – Social Media. In Newspaper Campaign, it received top honors for "El Dorado Park & Ride Launch."
In the Outdoor category, METRO won for "Ride METRO to the Super Bowl" - a campaign of signage, flyers and banners. In the Radio category, METRO's spot on the "El Dorado Park & Ride Launch" captured the top award.
The fifth award METRO received was in the TV-Single: Non-Profit category for "This is My METRO – Catherine," featuring a real customer, a young ballerina-in-training who rode METRO to her dance classes.
METRO submitted eight entries and won five – the most it has won at any one awards event. Click here to see all the finalists who competed for the prestigious Crystal.
"There were hundreds of entries, and we took home top prizes for a wide range of promotions," said Jerome Gray, executive vice president of Communications. "I was very proud to join our colleagues and watch time after time as METRO was called to the stage."
In the photo above, standing (left to right) are : Sydney Scardino, Darla Bell, Rob Fritsche Jr., Jerome Gray, Lorena Chavez, Kelly Braverman and Esmeralda Davila. Front row are Nijalon Dunn and Jessica Gonzalez. Enjoy the short clip.
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