On August 16, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) will unveil its much anticipated, New Bus Network The unveiling marks the beginning of a 5-year plan to revitalize Houston’s bus system, which has changed little since the 1980’s.
The agency’s approval process for a better bus system began in early 2015, when METRO’s board of directors approved an innovative system of routes designed to work together to create a network, with better connections to job centers and popular destinations around the city, instead of connecting primarily to the city’s downtown core. The goal was to provide a faster, more efficient, and easier to use mass transit service without raising costs to the public.
With the help of leading transit designers and input from the community, the result was a new, completely redesigned bus network that would, first and foremost, offer more riders increased access to job centers and other frequently traveled destinations. METRO’s New Bus Network will connect one million Houstonians to one million jobs ─ nearly double the number today.
This aggressive implementation plan involves everything from changing bus stop/shelter locations, posting new signage throughout the system, modifying bus operating facilities, to a comprehensive public education, marketing and media plan. METRO anticipates generating a 20% increase in ridership within two years.
METRO’s New Bus Network improvements include:
- A frequent network grid connecting 1,000,000 people and 1,000,000 jobs
- Increase current riders served by frequent service from 25% to 75%
- 58% of trips between 30 key destinations faster by 10 minutes or more
- 94% of riders can board at current stop
- Every route operates 7 days a week
- 20% increase in ridership after 2 years
Additional Service improvements include:
- Seven-day-a-week high frequency, 22-route bus network integrating with METRO’s 3 light-rail lines
- About 2/3 of all passenger trips should be faster
- 37% more Saturday and 93% more Sunday bus service
- Freight railroad crossings reduced by 30%… a major source of on-time performance woes
- Running times on all bus routes verified and updated to further improve on-time performance
But better access isn’t the only improvement. METRO’s New Bus Network will be more convenient and user-friendly. No longer will riders have a need for a bus schedule as METRO’s “frequent network” will bring more than 1 million Houstonians into within a half-mile of a bus route that runs every 10-15 minutes for at least 15 hours a day, seven days a week ─ double the current number of people with such access. METRO will be a welcome cost saving, user-friendly alternative that many who haven’t considered public transit before.
METRO’s New Bus Network will be more reliable. Currently, delays often result from buses stopped by freight trains and are compounded by long, complicated routes. The New Bus Network reduces the number of street level freight rail crossings by 30% each day. New routes are shorter, come more often, and have virtually no branches so bus operators can do a better job of keeping buses running on time.
To view the New Bus Network, go to: http://www.ridemetro.org/Pages/NewBusNetwork.aspx
The Houston region is dynamic and growing. METRO’s New Bus Network is designed to serve the city’s biggest job and activity centers. The network not only improves upon today’s needs for commuters, but is also designed to anticipate emerging needs, and is ready to grow with the multi-centered region of the future. METRO’s New Bus System for the Houston region will help more people get to more places, more quickly, more of the time.